Featuring original and reproduction homes, businesses and landmarks highlighting Santa Clara Valley’s past, there is plenty to explore at History Park. It is open to the public seven days a week.
History Park, on 14 acres in Kelley Park, had its beginnings in 1972, and has grown to include 32 structures operated with 19 community partner organizations.
The land for History Park was originally purchased from Louise Kelley for the city of San Jose through Ernie and Emily Renzel and Alden Campen. Campen and the Renzels purchased 63 acres from Kelley for $142,000 for the purpose of a future City park. Later, using bond funds, the City purchased the remaining land that is today’s Kelley Park.
Louise Kelley continued to live on her Kelley Park estate until her death in the mid-1950s. Kelley wanted the park to be named Archer Park after her father, but it instead became Kelley Park.
The Trolley Barn is a reconstruction, built in the style of similar trolley-buildings from the early 1900s. It is used to display historic streetcars and other vehicles.
Streetcars were operating in downtown San Jose as late as 1938.
The Print Shop is an example of a typical building found in San Jose in the nineteenth century because of its “false front” appearance and distinctive corner decorations.
O'Brien's Candy Store is inside the Pacific Hotel lobby.
John and Etta Nelson bought the house in 1919. Their daughter Kristena lived in it after their deaths, and bequeathed it to the San Jose Historical Museum Association.
Built in the 1870s, this doctor's office was originally located at the corner of Main and Benton Streets, Santa Clara. It was the first building donated to the Museum, in 1972.
The Paulson House is currently home to the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County.
This painting, hung in the Paulson House, was a study for the larger painting donated to the California Statehouse on behalf of the California Pioneers.
Ng Shing Gung temple with guardian effigies during Da Jui, "Feast of the Hungry Ghosts." The huge figures made of paper mache were burned at the last evening of the festival to satisfy the spirits.
Most people who come to downtown San José have no idea that there was a Chinatown here. In fact, in the 1880s, it was one of the largest Chinatowns in California with over 1,000 residents.
The Umbarger House was built in the Italianate style, with "gingerbread" or carpenter's gothic features. The furnishings are true to the Victorian period but are not original to the house.
This kitchen would have served multiple functions during the later years of the Victorian era, including that of a family room. Note the hip style bathtub.
The Gordon House currently serves as the offices of the Rotary Club of San Jose.
Founded in 1914, the Rotary Club of San Jose is the community's most active and well known service organization.
A parade passes by the original Empire Firehouse, seen on the right side of the photograph.
The Santa Clara Valley was once the "prune capital" of the world.
Amadeo P. Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in 1904, opening the first office in San Francisco in 1908.
Bank of Italy’s first branch outside of San Francisco was in San José. The bank bought San José’s Commercial and Savings Bank in 1909 and converted it to Bank of Italy.
A. P. Giannini's banking practices reflected his commitment to previously under-served members of the community such as the working class, immigrant populations, and small businesses.
Bank of Italy later became Bank of America, and was based in this iconic San Jose skyscraper.
Exhibit created by Catherine Mills, Curator of Library and Archives, History San José, in conjunction with HSJ partners and affiliates.