Front of the future Pittsburg Post Dispatch building in the 1930's

Museum Founding

The founders of the Pittsburg Historical Society could never have envisioned such a grand museum as we have at 515 Railroad Avenue. The group that came together for a common purpose, preserving the history of Pittsburg, had deep roots in this colorful river town and wanted following generations to know about its people and evolution through ranching, mining, fishing, canning, military base, and the large industries which had come here for its location on the river (water and transportation), railroads, and people willing to work from many backgrounds and ethnicities.

The Pittsburg Historical Society

With no space of their own, the museum began to display exhibits temporarily in various places including the Junta house on Black Diamond Street. This small but hardy group, recognized by the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce on October 18, 1961, was composed of the pioneer Buchanan family, Norma Daly, the O’Hara and Davi families, Marie Harper, the Milton Killoughs, and Theresa Gatto Freed.

Needing to find some permanent space, the founders obtained a former Chevron clubhouse which was moved to the edge of City Park near Railroad Avenue where for many years their collection grew to the point of overflow. In the 1990s it was arranged to secure the closed Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. On the eve before ownership transfer the building was destroyed by fire. The group, by then 35 years old, began looking for other property.

Then-President Pat Firpo and then Curator Marti Aiello had their eye on the vacant Pittsburg Post Dispatch building. They worked with the Lesher family and purchased the building in 1997. The building was constructed in 1926 for Coast County Gas & Electric, which eventually merged with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). They were unable to open the new building to the public until it was retrofitted for earthquake stability.

Color illustration of the Pittsburg Post Dispatch building


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