Celebrate National Historic Preservation Month

Celebrate Redwood City’s history through a number of ways during National Historic Preservation month this May!

Redwood City is rich in history and local lore. In 2017, the City celebrated its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary. As the oldest city in San Mateo County, Redwood City has a long and illustrious history. Originally, a port town during the Gold Rush (Did you know the Port of Redwood City is actually older than the City itself? Learn more here), Redwood City became the County Seat of the newly formed San Mateo County in 1856. Since its incorporation in 1867, the City has grown into a vital and diverse community with thriving neighborhoods, commerce, government, technology and manufacturing.

To celebrate our rich history, the City invites you to participate in some activities planned for National Historic Preservation Month! Read on in this blog to learn ways you can explore and learn about the City’s history.

Historic Downtown Tour

An annual Redwood City tradition is the historic downtown walking tour of Redwood City, sponsored by the Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC). Walking tour participants will see where Wyatt Earp occasionally came for a drink, where a Wells Fargo Express Office operated in 1875, Redwood City’s first new car showroom salon and auto repair garage, the finest theater on the peninsula in 1896, the former homes of prominent pioneer citizens and much, much more.

Join us for a walk back in time! The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. on May 12, in front of the 1863 Lathrop House at 627 Hamilton Street. The tour will last approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

Union Cemetery Historic Tour

Another annual tradition is the 1859 Union Cemetery Historic Site tour, sponsored by the Historic Union Cemetery Association. Union Cemetery serves as a permanent archive of San Mateo County’s history. Recorded on stone are the rich and colorful lives of many pioneer families including more than 40 Civil War veterans, buried in the old soldiers’ plot established by the Grand Army of the Republic. In recognition of Mother’s Day, the theme of this year’s tour is “Mother’s Stories”.

The tour takes place Saturday, May 19, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The cemetery is located at Woodside Road, off El Camino Real.

Historic Downtown Student Tour

For 22 years, Redwood City’s Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC) has sponsored a tour that takes all 7th grade students in the Redwood City School District to three of Redwood City’s downtown historic buildings including the 1863 Lathrop House, Fox Theatre, and the Old County Courthouse. At each tour stop, there are volunteer docents that provide the students with facts and tales about each site’s history. All three of these sites are not only designated local historic landmarks, but also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

San Mateo County History Museum

The San Mateo County History Museum features interactive experiences where you can explore the county’s rich and colorful history. At the museum, you can explore the story of the 1910 County Courthouse in which it is located, see exhibits that depict the history of the peninsula, and more.

During the History Museum’s Family Programs, guests can discover the past through crafts, activities and demonstrations. Adult Programs include presentations about local history and hands-on workshops.

The museum is located at 2200 Broadway and is open Tuesday — Sunday, 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors & students, and free for children 5 & under.

For an early sneak peek of the San Mateo County History Museum before National Historic Preservation month begins, admission is free on April 28 for Maritime Day, with free activities for the whole family beginning at 11 a.m. The free museum day is made in part by a sponsorship by the Port of Redwood City. For more about this free event, go here.

Historic Resources

With history now dating back over 150 years, these events help highlight Redwood City’s fascinating past and its prominent role in shaping the San Francisco Peninsula. As part of celebrating National Historic Preservation Month this May, we encourage the community to take some time and explore Redwood City. Spend an hour perusing the collection of historic photos in the Local History Collection at the Downtown Library, or take a self-guided Path of History tour around downtown. You can also visit our official history website to read blogs about City history, view collections of historic photos, see a timeline of the City’s history and more.