The Morgan Hill Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend with activities for the entire community. The nonprofit’s list of accomplishments includes preservation of historic landmarks and archives as well as multicultural education and enrichment programs that serve youth and adults in Morgan Hill, Coyote, Madrone and San Martin. It’s an impressive history made possible by an all-volunteer organization.
“When you give people a sense of local history, they start to feel more connected to each other and to the place they call home,” said Roger Knopf, current Board President and a long-time member of the Historical Society. “That’s what we offer to the people of Morgan Hill and surrounding areas.”
On Saturday, Sept. 11 from 11am to 5pm, the Historical Society will welcome visitors to a History Open House at the iconic Villa Mira Monte history park. The day’s events will include docent-led tours of the Hiram Morgan Hill House; Morgan Hill Museum; and the Centennial History Trail.
Visitors will hear history talks by local guest speakers. Geologist and Historical Society member Peter Anderson will discuss how geologic forces moved El Toro Mountain (aka Murphy’s Peak) 5,000 miles from the South Pacific to its current location in Morgan Hill over a period of about 100 million years.
Author, professor, former Morgan Hill mayor and Historical Society member Beth Wyman will recount her travels across America while researching the life of our city’s namesake, captured in her book, “Hiram Morgan Hill.” Writer and history buff, Mike Monroe, will talk about the early indigenous history of our region before European settlement.
Also on Sept. 11, the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to join Historical Society board members in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30pm. Families can enjoy a guided walk around the picturesque Centennial History Trail, with its 100 tiles commemorating milestones in Morgan Hill history. Visitors can bring their own picnic lunch. A no-host beverage service will be provided.
Visitors already familiar with Villa Mira Monte will find new exhibits to explore.
“Our Museum Director, Kathy Devine, has curated a new exhibit in the museum focused on the mariachi music that is integral to our Mexican heritage,” Knopf said. “In the Morgan Hill House, she has installed a retrospective on 50 years of our work to preserve and share local history going back to Pre-Colonial times.”
On Sunday, Sept. 12 from 3-5pm, the Historical Society will debut the first of three films of a new docuseries, entitled History Makers, at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse. This year’s film tells the story of people and events that inspired the founding of the Historical Society, the evolution of the Villa Mira Monte history park, and the development of the Historical Society’s many programs and events now offered throughout the year. The film includes a virtual tour of the history park narrated by Michelle McKay and Larry Carr, interwoven with interviews with eight people closely involved in the Historical Society’s work over the years.
Historical Society board member Kathy Sullivan said, “The series is called History Makers because in the course of living our own lives, generation after generation, each of us is making history every day.”
This year’s History Makers film was created and produced by local filmmakers Robin Shepherd of Selah Productions and Nils Myers of 152 West Productions with help from their film crew including Amaobi Ajawara and Bobby Kwong. The History Makers docuseries is funded through a grant from a generous local family.
“Thanks to our partnership with Selah Productions and 152 West Productions, we can share history through the power of documentary film,” Sullivan said. “Along with screening events, we make our films accessible on-demand on our website.”
The film screening will be followed by a wine and cheese reception and a chance to meet the film’s cast and crew. The reception is supported by community partners including the City of Morgan Hill, Guglielmo Winery, Edward Boss Prado Foundation and Rosy’s at the Beach.
“We are grateful to Christina Turner, Chris Ghione and other Morgan Hill city staff and to our long-standing partners who share our love of history and support our work on behalf of the community,” Sullivan added.
Learn more at www.morganhillhistoricalsociety.org.
50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
History Open House
Sept. 11, 11am to 5pm
Bring your own picnic lunch
Villa Mira Monte, 17860 Monterey Road
“History Makers” Documentary Film Screening
Sept. 12, 3pm to 5pm (doors close at 3:15pm)
Wine and cheese reception
Morgan Hill Community Playhouse, 17090 Monterey Road
Events are free and open to the public. County Covid-19 guidelines will be followed.