History Before the Historical Society
The work of contemporary historians depends on those who valued and documented the past. Particularly important are those who lived that past. Much of our knowledge of early Eagle Rock is derived from these chroniclers. On the occasion of this anniversary we honor three of the most significant.
ERVHS History Part One:
The Collection and the Museum
After the “Progress” celebration of Eagle Rock’s 50th anniversary, in 1961 at a community improvement Committee meeting at the Women’s Twentieth Century Clubhouse Mrs. Eleanor Zimmerman reported “probably the most valuable contribution that came out of effort was a request for the formation of an historical society”. The first meeting of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society was held at the clubhouse Wednesday October 25, 1961. Mr. Henry Welcome was elected President; Mrs. Zimmerman, Vice President; Mrs. Carl D. Basler, Secretary and Mr. Cecil Davis, Treasurer.
The earliest years of the society were occupied with the gathering of a wide range of materials from local sources and larger archives to document our history. When the society was presented the opportunity to establish a museum by then Councilman Arthur Snyder, our efforts focused on organizing and displaying the collection. The museum was open to the public weekly with a docent from the society to guide and entertain visitors. Ralph Sherman and later Donna Adams curated the museum and kept it open.
The society began publishing a newsletter quarterly in concert with meetings to discover history with local and regional speakers. A survey was made of buildings thought to be significant, and Henry and Betty Welcome wrote the earliest short history of Eagle Rock. Many short histories were compiled by Donna Adams and shared with the local library.
The most important acquisitions during that period were the complete run of the Eagle Rock advertiser, discovered above a bank vault in the former Westernlore Press offices, and the microfilm archive of the Northeast Newspapers donated to the society by the publisher, Oren Asa. These resources are still being explored today and many are available online at the California Digital Newspaper Collection.
ERVHS History Part Two:
A New Home, Historic Preservation, Collaboration and Distribution
The Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center (now known as the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock) was chartered in 1996, as the City elected to conform the management of the refurbished old Eagle Rock Library to a citywide push to form community arts organizations. Generously, then as now, this organization hosts the Historical Society. In our new home, the most pressing initial priority was to properly house and inventory our materials. As long-time president John Miller was nearly the last of the older generation still active, a new generation of leadership was needed. As we looked at our holdings it became clear that the Northeast Newspaper and Eagle Rock Advertiser archives were key holdings that needed to be shared with the public. An ongoing conversation began with our neighbors in Highland Park Heritage and Occidental Collage to accomplish this. At the same time, increasing concern led us to examine our role in historic preservation efforts. Our public presence continued to evolve, with the addition of the Ice Cream Social event, hosting the community, in addition to our quarterly meetings (continuing on Zoom) and our newsletter. We seek new collaborators in the community to enhance our effectiveness and continue our archival and educational work.