Creation of the Glendora Historical Society Museum

H. Paul Keiser became the first curator of the Historical Society, April 15, 1947, at the first official Board of Directors meeting, he was also the Chairman of the Board. At that time there was no museum. The society, formally established in 1947, had a growing collection but no permanent place to keep it. From the Monday March 29, 1948 minutes recorded as stated by Ruth Kimball; "....she advised that the greater portion of all Historical Society funds would be used to purchase cabinets and files to protect the historical data collected by the Society." Some items were displayed in the Reading Room of the library which then existed at City Hall, the other part of the collection had no official home.

Other minutes during 1949 discuss storing items in a vault at the "old bank building" then used by the "Glendora Independent Irrigating Company". At the May 16, 1949 meeting Board President Les Warren "suggested that the Historical Society furnish a fire proof door for the vault...". From the ninth regular meeting of the Historical Society held May 23, 1949 Mr. Keiser stated; "We are now preparing a proper place to keep these things. We have procured a fireproof vault from the "Glendora Independent Irrigating Company" and hope that people will be even more liberal with their gifts in the future and thank everyone for contributions of the past."

At the Board meeting of January 30, 1951 "A discussion was held regarding a future home for the records and archives of the Society, Mr. Keiser mentioning the present American Legion Hall, when the new building is complete." During 1951 Mr. Keiser died in an accident while trimming a tree. At the October 22, 1951 meeting held at Donald Pfleuger's home, there was a "discussion of what should be done with the possessions of the Historical Society which have been in Paul Keiser's keeping. The basement of the Library and the former Legion building were suggested. Don Pfleugar resigned as a Board member and accepted the post of curator "on the condition that a permanent place be found for the society's possessions." At this meeting it was suggested the museum be named after Paul Keiser.

By January 14, 1952 the Society was in the process of leasing the building at 314 Michigan Ave (now Glendora Ave) The small building was built in 1913 and contained Glendora's original City Hall, Volunteer Fire Department, and holding cell (temporary jail) until 1922 when the current City Hall was finished. What is now the historical kitchen held the holding cell. When the Historical Society leased the building from the city it was being used by the Frank J. Gard Post 153 of the American Legion and the Church of God as a meeting place. At this meeting there was talk of using the building as a permanent display but the lease had not yet been received from the city. But by March 24, 1952 the Board met in the now former American Legion building. During the August 6th 1952 meeting renovations of the building were considered, and Mr. Pfleugar "moved that the name be the Paul H. Keiser Museum, Glendora Historical Society." The motion was seconded and carried.

The October 20, 1952 minutes stated that "The building has been redecorated and repaired by the carpenter, and is now ready for occupancy as a museum." Donald Pflueger resigned as curator and the naming of the Museum was reconsidered. At the January 29,1953 open meeting at the Glendora Woman's Clubhouse it was officially decided to call the new museum the "Glendora Historical Society Museum".

From the May 24, 1954 minutes: "With our Museum about ready to open, the Board hopes that many will either give or loan articles pertaining to Glendora's history." And finally the first open house was held on Sunday January 9, 1955. More than 200 visitors came to see the new museum and have tea. The next open house was not held until July 10, 1955. During the Museum's early years it was open only occasionally to the public. Miss Grace Sutherland, who became a resident of Glendora in 1909, was the first curator of the museum in its present location and now the has the original wing of the museum named after her. By 1963 it was open the third Saturday of each month and quite crowded with items.

The Society continued to work with the library to have historical items on display. The Bidwell Memorial Library opened in 1956 (now the City Council Chambers) but it quickly ran out of room and the current Glendora Library and Cultural Center opened on February 28, 1972. The Museum had its own room in the new library for displays until the Museum was restored for the 1776-1976 National Bicentennial Celebration. The work took longer than anticipated and the open house and dedication was held on December 4, 1977. Mrs. Ruth (formerly Kimball) Richardson, the first Historical Society President, attended this festive function.

In 1986, because the museum was again running out of space, a fundraising drive was started in order to enlarge the museum. This corresponded with the city of Glendora's Centennial 1887 to 1987. Many people and the City of Glendora contributed a great deal of time and money to this effort to increase the Museum's size and modernize the facility. The cost was $134,962.00 and the new improved museum was dedicated June 10, 1989. The new wing was named after Merrill West a former mayor, packing house manager, and Historical Society President who had proposed the expansion, but did not live to see it accomplished.