I spent this past Friday and Saturday in the small town of Williams, CA. For those who don’t know it, it is on I-5, at the exit for Clear Lake. It’s primarily a farm town – but its history is long and well preserved in the former school house, now known as the Sacramento Valley Museum. My family’s roots go back to this particular town to at least 1920, but we were in the surrounding area as early as 1885.
The museum is a large two-story building and it contains all manner of historical every-day objects. It had a special Veterans Day memorial on view (which included example uniforms and paraphernalia from every major conflict). The permanent exhibitions areas include farming equipment, Williams High Alumni collections (including band uniforms), Masonic paraphernalia, as well as rooms organized by theme: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, children’s rooms as well as businesses such as apothecary, general store and happily for me, the clothing boutique (all including objects from varying time periods). Shocking -and somehow comforting-to know just how long the same pharmacy (Fouch’s) has been in existence here.
Of particular note were the Model-T car, the dusters in the tack room (circa 1900), and some fine examples of corsets, dresses, and women’s accessories. Somehow, the things worn and used by real people (rather than the rich-and-famous) are always of greater interest to me. They seem more authentic, and by extension, more important to study and understand.
If you ever find yourself in the area, I’d encourage a visit – it’s a unique way to step back in time and smaller, lesser-known collections need your support to survive. Hope you enjoy these quick snap-shots: