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Palo Alto History Museum (PAHM)

March 24, 2014

A large group of museum supporters attended a study session with the Palo Alto City Council. Museum Board President, Rich Green, and several members of the Board addressed the council regarding current status of fund–raising and the need to move forward. The Council will take this up at a future session.

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Reprinted from the Autumn 2010 PAST Newsletter

Written by Steve Staiger:

In addition to appearing in the Autumn 2010 PAST Newsletter, this article originally appeared in the September 2010 Palo Alto Historical Association’s newsletter The Tall Tree—but it is so relevant to PAST’s mission that we wanted to print it here, too. For those who receive both newsletters, we beg your indulgence!!

Most of you are aware of the proposed Palo Alto History Museum to be housed in the Roth Building of the old Palo Alto Medical Clinic on Homer Avenue. In the past I have used several of these columns to detail our plans and dreams to create a local history museum telling the story of Palo Alto and Stanford. Some of you may be wondering whether the museum is still alive. As the president of the Palo Alto History Museum, I want to tell you about our achievements to date, and about the near term plans to open the museum.

From the time that the City (as the owner of the Roth Building at 300 Homer Avenue) granted us the option to lease the building, we have been working hard to fund the cost of the building renovation and the creation of a suitable museum (cost estimated at more than 5 million dollars). Our fundraising strategy, as developed in consultation with retired Stanford fund raiser Dudley Kenworthy, has been to seek contributions from major donors before going after gifts from the community supporters. Our successes to date include a 2 million dollar pledge from the Peery Family Foundation.

We are still $1.8 million short of our goal, and are working to attract several more major gifts before the end of the year. We are all aware that this is not the best of times to seek funding. In these hard times, major donors are flooded with requests from supporters of numerous good causes. However, we do have good news to report.

We have engaged an architect and contractor who are working together to design a museum space within the walls of the old clinic building, keeping in mind both cost effectiveness and historic preservation of the building's earlier life. The permit process with the City has begun and we are discussing the proposed plans with city staff.

The Roth Building was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, joining several other Palo Alto structures such as the Norris House, the University Avenue train station and the Post Office on Hamilton Avenue. This achievement was the result of hard work of several museum volunteers. Aside from the honor of such national status, the listing also allows us to qualify for significant tax credit funding to be used in the renovation.

But a museum is more than just an old building. It is collections and programs designed to tell the stories of Palo Alto and Stanford. We continue to collect donations of Palo Alto "stuff," material that will be used to illustrate the various stories that make up our history. Museum volunteers are working to develop programming to support proposed exhibits.

The museum is in discussion with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce to house their operations in the Roth Building as a rent paying sub–tenant. The Chamber is developing their visitors bureau service to encourage and support out–of–town visitors, and considers the Roth Building to be an ideal location to promote this service. The Chamber's presence in the building would aid the museum both financially and by providing a certain level of staffing for extended hours.

I hope this article updates you with the news of the Palo Alto History Museum. And I hope we can count on your support.


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