28314 Mercedes Street
Temecula, CA 92590
The signs are everywhere that Temecula has a unique and storied past. From the entryway arch of Old Town Temecula to murals immortalizing Old West scenes, it's not hard to figure out that history is remembered and promoted. No group seems to have more passion about doing so than the Temecula Valley Historical Society. They assist in running the beautiful Temecula Valley Museum which is owned and operated by the City of Temecula. It is located in Sam Hicks Monument Park and unlike other history museums, it actually is open most days of the week!
The museum also added Saturday walking tours, highly recommended, to enjoy Old Town and see it in a new way once you know some of the things that have gone down in this once, Old West town. While Temecula today is best known for Pechanga Casino Resort & Spa, dozens of wineries in close proximity, golf, hot air balloon rides, and special events to entertain tourists and locals, you'll gain a greater appreciation by seeing and hearing how Temecula grew up.
Inside the history museum are several permanent exhibits and lots of rotating and new exhibitions. Among our favorites is the permanent replica of the office of Erle Stanley Gardner (July 17, 1889-March 11, 1970). When I turned on my TV today there was a black & white episode of "Perry Mason" detective series featuring Raymond Burr circa 1960. Not only did Gardner create Perry Mason, at the time of the author's death at his Temecula ranch, he ranked as the best-selling American writer of the 20th century. This part of Temecula's history is contemporary, but certainly makes the city proud.
There likely isn't a history museum in California without a collection of local arrowheads, carved stones, woven baskets and other relics of the dominant native American presence dating back thousands of years.
Temecula Valley Museum can check that one off, as display cases, photographs and other items depict key stories, including the Luiseño Indians, Mission San Luis Rey period, establishment of the ranchos, and transportation influences including the stagecoach and railroads.
LUISEÑO ROCK ART
Nearly 2,000 500 rock art sites are documented in California and 500 in Riverside County depicting Luiseno key events in the cycle of birth, puberty, reproduction and death. Thoughts, feelings and ideas are generally represented through human and animal shapes. The red ochre paint pigment has faded significantly and Pechanga Cultural Resources Committee has undertaken to preserve as many of these sites as possible.
While the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians maintains its own collection of important historical items on its nearby tribal lands, the museum is fortunate to showcase life in the past (possibly 10,000 years or more,) long before Spaniards arrived to try to secularize local natives, and before anyone would ever imagine Pechanga Casino would become the largest private employer in the Temecula Valley with approx. 5,000 employees, and the second-largest private employer in Riverside County, behind Stater Bros.
Children's Touch History Exhibit at Temecula Valley Museum is a permanent educational area with a play stove, mercantile store, puppets for creative shows, a dress shop, Mormon Battalion Campsite where kids can pretend to build a fire, grind at a grinding stone and more.
The gift shop at the museum features colorful and fun items for all ages and helps support the museum. Be sure to drop by and shop, even if time doesn't permit for seeing the museum.
In addition to all this, the museum has permanent collections of photos and manuscripts, new exhibits, and incredible staff helping answer questions. The museum is a family experience not to be missed!