SoCal Historical Society spotlights Fillmore Historical Museum

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The interior of the original Fillmore Historical Museum.

Courtesy of Fillmore Historical Museum

Join us Thursday, November 17, 2022 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. via Zoom for A Hidden Gem: The Fillmore Historical Museum, sponsored by the Historical Society of Southern California.

The Historical Society of Southern California highlights the Fillmore Historical Museum and its local history in its Community Focus series. Learn about the history of the museum as well as an insight into our local history. Presenters will include museum director Martha Gentry, museum volunteer Sue Zeider and local historian Michele Ybarra McKinley. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. Register now at https://forms.gle/TcQzbTqjX8kWDjXY9.

In 1972, the Fillmore Chamber of Commerce approached a retired Spanish teacher, Edith Moore Jarrett, to create a historical museum. Mrs. Jarrett was not just any retired Spanish teacher. She had written the Spanish textbooks, El Camino Real I. II, and other books. The textbooks became the most commonly used series of Spanish textbooks in the United States for several decades beginning in the 1940s and well into the 1970s. She also loved travel and history. She was a Fillmore native, graduating from Fillmore Union High School in 1916 and the University of Southern California in 1921. After graduating from USC, she returned to Fillmore and taught at its schools until on his retirement.

Ms. Jarrett agreed to the Chamber of Commerce’s request. A space was rented on the ground floor of the Masonic Temple building on Central Avenue and the people of the area were informed that they were looking for objects for the museum. She was overwhelmed with donations and soon ran out of space.

In 1974 the Southern Pacific Railroad was ready to demolish the depot they had built at Fillmore in 1887. It had not been used except for storage for many years and was in very poor condition. Edith Jarrett bought it for $1 plus ₵5 tax on the condition that she immediately move it from its original site. She petitioned the City, which provided a lot on Main Street. Mrs. Jarrett then paid for the move and renovation of the Depot by donating to the town of Fillmore.

Fifty years have passed since the Fillmore Historical Museum opened its doors. After extensive damage in the Northridge earthquake in 1994, the depot was again moved and renovated.

The new museum site was only a block away from the old site, but there was now room for a 1905 bungalow, the 1919 Rancho Sespe dormitory, a 1960s caboose, and several buildings smaller. An entirely voluntary operation, it receives no funding from any government agency.

The Museum is open four days a week and by appointment. It regularly hosts interns from local colleges and universities as well as local school children. Its website, fillmorehistoricalmuseum.org, includes information about the museum and its programs as well as more than a hundred stories about the Fillmore, Bardsdale, Sespe, and Piru communities.

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