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McHenry Museum

McHenry Museum


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Located a block away from the McHenry Mansion, McHenry Museum in Modesto, Californis, is a perfect site for history buffs.Since its founding in 1972, it has been preserving items that reflect the early life and culture of Modesto and Stanislaus County from its pioneer days through the mid-20th century.Originally, the building was a city library and was given to the City of Modesto in 1912, by the McHenry family. The museum property is owned by the City of Modesto.Included in the National Register of Historic Places, the museum provides hands-on exhibits that enrich the historical significance of the Modesto area.Permanent exhibits include a complete dentist's office, a recreated blacksmith shop using wood and square nails from a century-old house, a general store, gold mining paraphernalia, original fire fighting equipment, and a collection of cattle brands from Stanislaus County.Hallmark ornaments from the collection of Gail Barnes also are exhibited. A series on pioneer families within the county; ethnic and religious groups; and exhibits of quilts, local businesses, silver, fans, and dolls are on display as well.


Historical Society

The first organized “historical societys” appear during the mid 1960’s. In 1965 the Citizens’ Cultural Center Committee came into being and was affiliated with the City of Modesto. The Stanislaus County Historical Society, affiliated with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors was established in 1966. Both of these organizations had over lapping interest in documenting, collecting and preserving Stanislaus County/Modesto History. Even though both had fledgling collections neither had a facility that could be open to the public so that the artifacts could be made available to the citizens of the county.

In the early 1970’s the City of Modesto partnered with the Citizens Cultural Center Committee to renovate the vacant McHenry Library and rename it the McHenry Museum where their collections of historic memorabilia and artifacts could be made available for public viewing. In 1972 the McHenry Museum had it’s official opening.

As the activities of the Citizens Cultural Center Committee became more focused on the preservation of history and historic artifacts a name change seemed to be in order. The organization became the McHenry Museum Society that was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization.

During this same time the Stanislaus County Historical Society was still active but without a home to display its collections. With this lack of facilities the “Society” began to emphasize the recording, written preservation and publication of county history.

In the late 1980’s the two organizations, Stanislaus County Historical Society and the Citizens Cultural Center Committee, agreed rather than continue their parallel activities (collecting, preserving, etc. of county and city history) they should join together and capitalize on the strengths of each organization to develop first class museum. The resulting organization became know as the McHenry Museum & Historical Society

The bylaws were revised to accommodate and clarify the societys’ mission, the names and responsibilities of the three support committees. Subsequently the bylaws have been revised/amended to include a 4th support group. (See below)

The McHenry Museum & Historical Society
is charged by its bylaws to fulfill the following objectives and purposes.

1) To maintain and support the McHenry Museum as a cultural and historical entity of the City of Modesto.
2) To maintain and support the McHenry Museum edifice as an historical landmark of Stanislaus County.
3) To foster and encourage cultural activities and appreciation of the history of Stanislaus County.
4) To encourage the collection and preservation of historical artifacts and archives of the county and its cities.
5) To do all things necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the above purposes.

In support of the McHenry Museum & Historical Society the Support Committees responsibilities are:

The Acquisitions Committee
Acquisitions: (a) evaluates all donations to the Museum and make a recommendation to the City of Modesto as to whether to keep, sell or return said donation (b) evaluate all donations of artifacts to the Society and determine whether to keep, sell or return said donations (c) can purchase items to display in the Museum and elsewhere and (d) sell artifacts that are Society/Acquisitions property with Board approval.

The Docents Association
The Docents have the responsibility of conducting educational tours of the Museum greeting, welcoming, and informing visitors of the historic value of the building and items displayed, and performing other services as requested.

The Guild
The Guild, will have the purpose of providing financial support and promoting community interest in the museum and the Society. The Guild will raise funds and conduct various social and cultural functions for the Society and the Museum.

The Press and Publications Committee
Press and Publications will have the purpose of preserving history in its written form, through publishing an historical journal Stanislaus Stepping Stones and various historical books and papers concerning Stanislaus County. These books, periodicals, historical articles, and objects d’art will be made available to the membership and general public through the Museum Store. The proceeds from the store will be used to publish books, monographs, and other historical data that will authenticate the history of Stanislaus County.


History

The McHenry Museum (the building) has a history going back to 1912. In 1906 Oramil McHenry* died and his will left $20,000 and interest in three city lots for the expressed purpose of constructing a public library in the Modesto. The city was unwilling to begin the library facility until the probate of Mr. McHenrys will was complete. By 1911 all the pieces began to fall into place. The probate was complete and the city indeed would receive the monies from the McHenry estate. In July of 1911 the city opened bids for the new building and Robert Trost of San Francisco was low bidder. W. H. Weeks was chosen as the architect and his plans for the library were published in the “Modesto Morning Herald” on August 3, 1911. Construction began in January of 1912 and continued until completion in April 1912. The City of Modesto formally took possession of the building and opened it doors to select visitors on April 29, 1912. The official opening of the McHenry Library to the general public was on May 1, 1912.**

The McHenry Library continued to serve the citizens of Modesto until 1971 when a new library building became available one block north leaving the McHenry Library just another vacant building. A vacant building with a vibrant history that needed to be preserved forever! Individuals and organization had anticipated the need for a museum and art center and were making plans for such a facility.

A Citizen’s Cultural Center Committee was formed in 1965 to raise funds for a Museum and Art Center. By 1971 contributions from individuals, organizations and foundations had progressed to the point where the City of Modesto felt sure enough of the ultimate success of the project to convert the vacated library building into a Museum and Art Center. The committee’s first step was to carefully restore the building to its original beauty. The Central California Art League occupied four rooms in the basement and developed galleries to display local artists work. The main floor was developed into the McHenry Museum. One room became the changing exhibit room, another to display historic painting, and the third was devoted to “permanent” displays. The displays were vignettes of vintage rooms such as a kitchen, living room, blacksmiths shop, etc. The auditorium was also part of the museum and was used for a variety of events from musical presentation to city council meetings.

The museum continued in that configuration until 2003 when the Art League moved to new quarters and the museum was able to utilize the entirety of the building. That also meant that much remodeling had to be done in the basement to transform it from an art gallery to a museum. A fund raising campaign by the McHenry Museum & Historical Society provided funds to transform the art galleries into museum vignettes. The use of the new space required a complete reorganization of both the main floor and basement spaces.

The museum property is owned by the City of Modesto and is under the direct supervision of the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department Cultural Services Manager, Wayne Mathes.

* For more informtion on the McHenry family go to: http://www.mchenrymansion.org/history.html

** ”From Reading Room to Public Library, the Evolution of the Library Spirit in Modesto, 1892-1912” by Heather Hajek, Stanislaus Stepping Stones. Vol. 27, No. 4, pages 1365-1373.


"This Material is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use, as defined in the United States copyright laws.

By downloading, printing, or otherwise using this Material, whether accessed directly from this website or via other sites or mechanisms, users agree that they will limit their use of such files to non-commercial, educational, personal or for fair use, and will not violate the Museum's or any other party's proprietary rights.

Downloading, printing, copying, distributing or otherwise using this Material for commercial purposes, including commercial publication or personal gain, is expressly prohibited."

"Financial support for this project has been provided by the following organizations: McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society, McHenry Public Library District, Nippersink Public Library District, and Richmond Spring Grove Area Rotary Club, Marengo-Union Library District, Marengo Women’s Club, Union Lion and Lioness clubs, Marengo Society for Historic Preservation, Woodstock Public Library, McHenry Area Historical Society and RAILS (Reading Across Illinois Library System) grant and individual supporters."


O! say can you see.

by the dawn's early light, a large red, white and blue banner? Whose broad stripes and bright stars. were so gallantly streaming. over Fort McHenry! The valiant defense of the fort during the Battle of Baltimore on September 13-14, 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that became the U.S. national anthem. The fort's history holds many other stories too, from the Civil War to WWII.

Plan Your Visit

What is open? What is closed? Are there fees? What can I do there? Find answers to all of these questions and more!

Fees & Passes

Find information about fees and passes to Fort McHenry

Virtual & Self-Guided Tours

Explore the fort and its grounds through virtual and self-guided tours

NPS App

Let a park ranger be your guide! Its your mobile visitor center! The NPS App is the brand new official app for all 420+ national parks.

Photos & Multimedia

Fort McHenry social media links along with the visitor center film and other presentations.

Events Calendar

Check the calendar for upcoming special events and programs.

Kids & Youth

Kids can have a great time at Fort McHenry! Find information on field trips, activities, and materials for the classroom.


McHenry Museum - History

The Life and Times of Robert McHenry

  • Born July 23, 1837 in Cambridge, Lamoille County, Vermont.
  • Direct descendent of William Brewster, Mayflower passenger, leader and preacher in Plymouth Colony.
  • Brewster family moves to Ohio in 1833.
  • Robert enlists in a newly formed Ohio Army regiment in 1846.
  • Assigned to guard forts along the Oregon Trail.
  • With the start of the Mexican-American War, his regiment is reassigned to fight.
  • Robert Henry Brewster deserts.
  • Robert McHenry listed in 1850 census, living in Stockton, California.
  • Leonard Oramil Brewster arrives in California in 1852 and locates in Stanislaus County by 1855.
  • Robert McHenry and Leonard Brewster are partners in butcher businesses in Chinese Camp and Jacksonville. They also work together as business partners in Stanislaus County.
  • Robert McHenry is elected a Stanislaus County supervisor in 1855. He is a homesteader, landowner and rancher.
  • Marries Matilda Hewitt of Farmington, formerly of Ohio, in 1859.
  • Oramil McHenry, son, born in 1861 on the Bald Eagle Ranch.
  • Family moves to Modesto after its founding in 1870. Robert starts Modesto Bank.
  • Builds McHenry Mansion in 1883 at 15th and I Sts.
  • Helps establish Modesto Irrigation District.
  • Dies June 25, 1890 - two years after suffering a debilitating stroke.
  • Leonard Oramil Brewster dies Dec. 31, 1891.
  • Oramil McHenry dies in 1906 and bequeaths land and money to build a library in Modesto.
  • Modesto boasts McHenry Avenue, once the road between the McHenry Mansion and the family's Bald Eagle Ranch the McHenry Library, later established as the McHenry Museum and the McHenry Mansion, a Victorian-era remnant of old Modesto.

The McHenry Monument at Modesto's Acacia Cemetery

There are not many photographs of Robert McHenry even though he is one of the foremost figures in the history of early Modesto. He seems to have shied away from being the subject of early tintypes or photographs. He and his son, Oramil, certainly left their marks on the city - from the Victorian-era mansion that remains the centerpiece of Modesto's earliest history to the Bald Eagle Ranch in the northern part of the outskirts, as well as the many streets and buildings bearing the McHenry name. The fight for irrigation had no greater champion than Oramil. Yet Robert appeared early in the lore of the Stanislaus area, arriving around 1850. He was born in Vermont in 1827, but, as McHenry Museum archivist Janet Lancaster discovered, there were no McHenrys in Vermont at the time of his birth. This picqued Lancaster's interest and what she eventually discovered changed the historical biography of Robert McHenry.

Two Different Trajectories for One Life

Robert McHenry was actually born Robert Henry Brewster in Vermont on July 23, 1827. Lancaster discovered the deception after a three year investigation, which turned up a fascinating study of an important Modesto historical figure whose life had two completely different trajectories. He was both the well-respected rancher and businessman who provides the basis for much of Modesto's early history, and he was a deserter from the U.S. Army, who changed his name to avoid capture after dodging his military obligation and duty to fight during a time of war.

To add to the conundrum of how history should treat him, Brewster (or McHenry) was related distantly to Mayflower elder William Brewster.

Brewster signed up with a newly formed Ohio Army regiment in 1846 as a rifleman. The term of duty was five years. His primary responsiblity in the Army would be guarding forts on the Oregon Trail. Unfortunately for the regiment, they were called to fight in the Mexican-American War, which apparently was not in the scope of things for Brewster. According to his military records, he deserted. Wartime desertion, even now, is a military crime punishable by death.

The Brewster Brothers Join Forces

Eventually, according to Lancaster's research, Brewster made his way to Stockton, California where he joined his brother, Leonard Oramil Brewster, and dropped his last name, adding "Mc" to his middle name. By 1855, both Leonard and Robert resided in Stanislaus County, where they shared business ventures and assisted with local elections.

Robert accumulated large land holdings, becoming wealthy. He married Matilda Margaret Hewitt and in 1861 fathered a son, Oramil. In 1883 he built the McHenry Mansion, which stands at 15th and I Streets, as a testimony to his accomplishments and his place in Modesto's history. With the added research by Janet Lancaster, Robert McHenry's story is complete and provides a lesson in how hidden information may take over a century to surface, but the truth is always out there.


Historical Photographs

The McHenry Museum’s holdings include a treasure trove of historical photographs of Modesto and the surrounding region. These photographs, owned by the city of Modesto, are available for purchase.

Below are a few examples of the type of photos available from the Museum.

To purchase a historical photograph, contact the Museum to determine availability of the desired photo content. Once it is determined that the requested photographic content is available, the City of Modesto will determine the cost to provide a copy of the photograph.


The McHenry Museum of Art And History

The McHenry Public Library of Modesto, California, was constructed after Oramil McHenry, a local businessman, died of cancer at the age of 44 and left a will that allocated money for the construction of a grand library.

Oramil McHenry, who owned the McHenry Mansion in Modesto, was one of multiple businessmen financing libraries in the United States between 18th and 19th Centuries. On May 1, 1912 the McHenry Public Library was completed and opened to the public. Presently, the former library serves as the McHenry Musuem of Art and History, which has exhibits regarding the city of Modesto and the inner valley of California.

The town of Modesto, California was originally named Ralston, after bank president and resident William Chapman Ralston when it was founded in October 1870. William Chapman Ralston was modest and declined to have the town named after him, so the town was renamed to Modesto, which is Spanish for modest.

The McHenry Musuem of Art and History has a collection of historical photos of downtown Modesto on display.

In addition the musuem has an article about the hanging in 1875, which occurred in the downtown lawn.

Author’s Note:

Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the most libraries, out of any American businessman, in the United States. Carnegie financed a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929.


TheStar&ndashSpangledBanner

On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States national anthem. Key’s words gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which generations of Americans have invested the flag with their own meanings and memories.


Category: The McHenry Museum of Art And History

The McHenry Public Library of Modesto, California, was constructed after Oramil McHenry, a local businessman, died of cancer at the age of 44 and left a will that allocated money for the construction of a grand library.

Oramil McHenry, who owned the McHenry Mansion in Modesto, was one of multiple businessmen financing libraries in the United States between 18th and 19th Centuries. On May 1, 1912 the McHenry Public Library was completed and opened to the public. Presently, the former library serves as the McHenry Musuem of Art and History, which has exhibits regarding the city of Modesto and the inner valley of California.

The town of Modesto, California was originally named Ralston, after bank president and resident William Chapman Ralston when it was founded in October 1870. William Chapman Ralston was modest and declined to have the town named after him, so the town was renamed to Modesto, which is Spanish for modest.

The McHenry Musuem of Art and History has a collection of historical photos of downtown Modesto on display.

In addition the musuem has an article about the hanging in 1875, which occurred in the downtown lawn.

Author’s Note:

Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the most libraries, out of any American businessman, in the United States. Carnegie financed a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929.


Watch the video: McHenry Mansion Video Tour - Historic McHenry Mansion Christmas Decorations - Modesto, California (June 2022).


Comments:

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  4. Kardal

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