El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society

Exhibits

February 10 – December 31, 2017

SHARED HISTORIES 3:  More of R. J. Arnold’s Portraits of the Central Coast

Arnold 2017 Display

In 2011 the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society received over 1,400 19th-century glass plate photographic negatives; the largest collection of historic items received by the Society to date.  The collection is the work of photographer Richard J. Arnold whose studio was located in San Luis Obispo from the mid 1880’s to the early 1890’s.  The glass plates were cleaned, cataloged, scanned and printed to produce the outstanding photographs on display at the Carnegie Library throughout 2017.  The exhibit presents a rare look at life in San Luis Obispo County at the end of the 1800’s.

Complimenting the exhibit are cases featuring the history of the almond industry and agriculture in Paso Robles. Once known as the “Almond Capital of the World”, the Paso Robles area became the world leader in acres of almond trees planted.  In 1922 the Paso Robles Almond Exchange built a cement warehouse on Riverside Avenue (later Farmers’ Alliance, now Derby Wine Estates) with a capacity of one thousand tons of almonds.

February 2 – December 31, 2016

“OUR PIONEER BEGINNINGS:  Adelaida, Bryson Hesperia, Creston, Estrella, Shandon”

Bryson Hesperia Exhibit 1

Histories, photographs, artifacts and items of interest chronicling the early development of these five areas surrounding Paso Robles.  Many of these settlements were, by 1800’s standards, very remote and homesteaders had to travel by horse and wagon many miles into nearby towns to purchase needed supplies.  Thus, over time, Paso Robles with its growing population, variety of stores, hotels and most importantly a railroad station, became the destination for those requiring supplies of all sorts for their ranches and farms.  Our exhibit celebrates those hearty pioneers who worked the land, raised their families, built their local churches and schools, and through their support, helped Paso Robles to prosper into the thriving community it is today.

May 15, 2016

LIVING HISTORY PROGRAM

“MYRTLE EDGAR WALTON: My Life on the Estrella Plains”

Walton, Mary Myrtle Edgar 001 cropped

Visitors to the Carnegie Library enjoyed hearing of Myrtle’s life as a young woman on the Estrella Plains.  Myrtle lived to be 105 years old and had many fond memories of growing up in this area.  She spoke of  how her life and the lives of the early pioneer families centered around the little Estrella Adobe Church.  Also in attendance for the performance were 5 generations of the Walton family!

February 24 – December 31, 2015

“SHARED HISTORIES 2: More of R.J. Arnold’s Portraits of the Central Coast”

An exhibit of vintage photographs produced from glass plate negatives dating from the late 1800’s. The work of photographer Richard J. Arnold whose studio was located on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, California from 1886 to 1892.

Evolution of the Exhibit:

In 2011 the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society received over 1,400 19th-centry glass plate photographic negatives; the largest collection of historic items received by the Society to date. The collection, the work of photographer R.J. Arnold, was donated by Jacqueline D. Marie in memory of Randal Gene Young. In April of 2012 Brother Lawrence Scrivani S.M., archivist for the Cooper Molera Adobe in Monterey, California, came to Paso Robles to instruct Historical Society volunteers in the proper methods for cleaning, preserving, storing and cataloging the glass plate negative collection. A group of dedicated volunteers then set to work in the basement office of the Carnegie to clean and catalog the negatives, which had been stored in less than ideal conditions for many years.

In December 2012, Anthony Lepore, Master of Fine Arts, Yale University, came to Paso Robles and spent several days going through the negatives, carefully making the selections that would become the basis for the Historical Society’s first exhibit SHARED HISTORIES: R.J. Arnold’s Portraits of the Central Coast. The fragile glass plate negatives were scanned in high resolution allowing us to produce large prints. At the time of their creation these negatives would only have been printed at their actual size (5″ x 8″) but current technology allows us to look even deeper into these astonishing portraits. The collection of photographs also points to the diversity of native and immigrant cultures prevalent in San Luis Obispo County during the second half of the 19th Century. In November 2014, Mr. Lepore returned to Paso Robles and made the selections for this current exhibit.

Through the years the identities of the individuals pictured in the exhibit have been lost leaving us to speculate about their personal stories and what life was like in this area over 125 years ago.

Many of the original glass plate negatives were damaged or in poor condition when received. The decision was made to print the photographs for the exhibit with these imperfections as they represent the current state of the plates and allows us to view them in their proper historical context.

About the Photographer: Richard R. Arnold (pdf)

PERMANENT EXHIBITS

“Uncovering Buried Treasures”

There is an active group doing metal detection in northern San Luis Obispo County. The Hiner Group (Dale Hiner, Bob Ellis & Jimmy Wilkins) have created a unique display case at the Carnegie Library featuring items they have discovered during their metal detecting adventures. Dale Hiner frequently stops by the Carnegie to share with our visitors many exciting metal detecting stories and explanations about the extraordinary items featured in the display.

Dale Hiner and his uncovered treasures

Dale Hiner and his uncovered treasures

“Paso Robles Most Famous Resident”

Without question, Ignacy Jan Paderewski is Paso Robles’ most famous resident.  The world famous pianist and composer came to Paso Robles in 1914 for the healing waters of the hot mineral springs and stayed on purchasing two large ranches to the west of town where he planted wine grapes, almonds and a variety of fruit trees.  On display is a selection of photographs, performance programs, and memorabilia of Paderewski’s life and his time in Paso Robles.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Ignacy Jan Paderewski

“Bearcat Corner”

A section of the Carnegie Library dedicated to the Paso Robles High School Bearcats.

Bearcat 2

 

PAST EXHIBITS:

2015

May 1 – 3, 2015

“CALIFORNIA UNEDITED! THE ARCHIVES OF R.J. ARNOLD.”

Paris Photo Los Angeles is the U.S. edition of the world’s most celebrated art fair for works created in the photographic medium. The Fair is held annually each spring at Paramount Picture Studios, and features the photographs of artists from around the world including the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Each year there is an historic component to the Fair. Last year photographs from the Los Angeles Police Department archives were on display. This year they have selected 50 images from the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society’s Randal G. Young collection of Richard J. Arnold’s glass plate negatives. The exhibit is entitled ‘CALIFORNIA UNEDITED! THE ARCHIVES OF R.J. ARNOLD.” Last year’s Fair attracted over 16,000 visitors during its three day run. This is a wonderful opportunity for Mr. Arnold’s beautiful photographs to be seen and enjoyed by visitors from all over the world. Paris Photo Los Angeles 2015 will take place at Paramount Picture Studios, May 1 through 3 and will host 80 leading galleries and art book dealers from 17 countries worldwide.

2014

“The History and Development of Paso Robles”

To commemorate the City of Paso Robles’ 125th Anniversary, the Carnegie Library featured an exhibit showcasing the history of Paso Robles from the original Spanish Land Grant, to the development of the mineral hot springs, the arrival of the railroad, the sale of the first town lots, the growth of early businesses, building the Carnegie Library, the arrival of Paderewski, and much more.

 

History of Paso Robles Exhibit

History of Paso Robles Exhibit

May 4, 2014

“Living History Program”

An afternoon of history at the Carnegie Library told by those who lived it. Paso Robles’ founding father Daniel Blackburn & his wife Cecelia, Louisa James (wife of founding father Drury James) & her nephew notorious outlaw Jesse James, Andrew Carnegie and Ignacy Jan Paderewski shared stories of their life and times in Paso Robles.

LtoR Paderewski, Daniel Blackburn, Cecelia Blackburn, Andrew Carnegie, Louisa James

L to R Paderewski, Daniel Blackburn, Cecelia Blackburn, Andrew Carnegie, Louisa James

2013

“SHARED HISTORIES: R.J. Arnold’s Portraits of the Central Coast”

The Historical Society’s first exhibit of vintage photographs produced from glass plate negatives dating from the late 1800’s. The work of photographer Richard J. Arnold whose studio was located on Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, California from approximately 1886 to 1892.

2012

“A Celebration of Thomas Jefferson in His Birthday Month of April”

An exhibit celebrating the life and times of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had two vineyards on his property in Virginia and has been described as America’s “first distinguished viticulturist,” and “the greatest patron of wine and wine growing that this country has yet had.”

Also on display: “The Pittsburg Pirates in Paso Robles” and “Farming Families of Paso Robles”

April 14, 2012

A free lecture at the Carnegie Library on Thomas Jefferson, often referred to as the father of American viticulture.

2011

Month of May featured a display celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May 14, 2011

“Ah Louis: Pioneer of San Luis Obispo” – Free program and lecture on the life of Ah Louis and his contributions to San Luis Obispo County.