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  Walnut Creek Historical Society

Shadelands Museum today
Shadelands Museum today
Penniman home, circa 1903
Penniman home, circa 1903

About the Museum
Events
Volunteer Positions

In the mid-1960s, local historian Isabelle Spencer Brubaker proposed to the Walnut Creek Women's Club the idea of forming a local historical society. The first meeting of the Walnut Creek Historical Society was held Nov. 6, 1967, and a Charter Night banquet was held Feb. 14, 1968. In November 1970, the Gospel Foundation of California gave to the City of Walnut Creek the remaining one and one-half acres of the former Hiram Penniman ranch, including the 1903 family house, at 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road. Mary Liddecoat, director of the Gospel Foundation, suggested the house be used as a historical museum. The Walnut Creek Historical Society worked with the City to officially open the Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum on November 18, 1972.

Today, the Society is a proactive organization that works with the local community and government to carry out its mission to preserve and interpret local history. Building community connections and pride, the Society welcomes your support and participation. Members of the Walnut Creek Historical Society receive a quarterly newsletter, announcements of special events, and a discount on items sold at the museum. To become a member, call (925) 935-7871.

Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum

  • Address: 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road (near Shadelands Business Park)
  • Map to Shadelands
  • Phone: (925) 935-7871
  • E-mail: wcshadelands@sbcglobal.net
  • Hours: Wednesday and Sunday (tours offered) - 1 to 4 p.m. Closed late November through early February.
  • Office hours: Mon-Thurs, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Admission: $3, adults; $1, students ages 6-17, free; children under 6 and WCHS members. Reservations for 10 or more by appointment.
  • Walnut Creek Historical Society membership: $25, individual; $40, family; $100, sustaining; $500, life.

Events & Opportunities

Shadelands Antiques Show
Over 80 dealers will be selling their antiques and collectibles at the Shadelands Antiques Show on Sunday, June 14, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum grounds, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road. The event benefits the Walnut Creek Historical Society. Admission is free. Call 925-935-7871 for more information.

Living History Program 1906
In the fall and spring, local third graders are invited to participate in the Living History Program 1906. Classes spend a day at the museum and relive Walnut Creeks history. Docents play characters who lived at the Shadeland's Fruit Ranch in 1906 and help students do chores, play games, tour the chocolate colored redwood house, visit the Japanese workers bunkhouse, see the water tower, examine the basement, collect herbs, and plant seeds in the slow food garden.

Volunteer Positions Open

  • Events Coordination Assistant - Update calendar of events. Be available to help Event Coordinator with details of advertising, shopping, calling volunteers, and other tasks, as needed.
  • Public Relations Assistant - Update the media list and track the appearance of articles about WCHS in the press and on the Web. As needed, be responsible for e-mailing and/or faxing news releases to the media.
  • Docents - To give museum tours on Wednesdays and Sundays. Training is required. You must be willing to dedicate 3-12 hours per month.
  • Living History Program Docents - Interpreters are needed to assist in the all-day Living History Program for third graders. This activity takes place in the spring and fall. Interpreters would be required to donate their time once a week during those periods.

Call 925-935-7871 to ask about volunteer opportunities.

About the Museum

Built by Walnut Creek pioneer Hiram Penniman, this 1903 redwood-framed house is a showcase for numerous historical artifacts, many of which belonged to the Pennimans. It also houses a rich archive of Contra Costa and Walnut Creek history in its collections of old newspapers, photographs and government records. The Sherwood Burgess Room is open Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. for individuals who wish to do research on local history.

The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and belongs to the City, but is operated by the Walnut Creek Historical Society. The Museum is closed each year from the beginning of November until the first Sunday in February. The annual hiatus allows the organization to hold its Holiday Faire and Victorian Teas and to refurbish the interior of the house in January.