About


Tomales Regional History Center

Post card of the enlarged and remodeled Tomales High School. The school’s Mission Revival style section (right) was lost to a fire in 1977, but the front-gabled gymnasium/auditorium was saved and is now home to the History Center. Photo by Ella Jorgensen, circa 1921.

The Tomales Regional History Center began in 1978, inspired by two Bicentennial events: a local PTA Founder’s Day and the research conducted by two eighth grade students on the area's early schools.

Reflecting this initial inspiration and connection with our schools, TRHC's region of interest parallels the original Tomales High School district, extending from the Point Reyes Peninsula north to Bodega Bay. As the district's only secondary school, THS has traditionally united this large geographical region. Thus it is fitting that today we occupy the old school’s 1921 gymnasium / auditorium.

Our museum occupies the primary level of this building where, among our exhibits, much of our interaction with the public occurs. Here we share and interpret pieces of our collection, answer questions (and sometimes ask our own), and hear our visitors' comments, stories, and memories.


Our Mission

A 1921 Tomales High School Calf Club event. The club operated at the school before the FFA chapter was formed in 1929.

A 1921 Tomales High School Calf Club event. The club operated at the school before the FFA chapter was formed in 1929.

The mission of the Tomales Regional History Center is to preserve and inspire interest in the region’s history through collection, exhibition, and interpretation, and to develop an awareness of the role we all play on the greater continuum of that history.


Our Building

Closer detail of the enlarged Tomales High School. Photo by Ella Jorgensen.

Closer detail of the enlarged Tomales High School. Photo by Ella Jorgensen.

The building we occupy also serves as our largest artifact. It was constructed in 1921 when the two-room 1912 Tomales High School was enlarged and remodeled. Decades of graduations and proms, basketball games and school assemblies were held here before the school moved to the new site just east of the town.

In 1977 the abandoned high school’s main building was destroyed by fire; the "new"1947 gymnasium was torn down in 2003. Thus the auditorium, restored in 1998 by the History Center as its headquarters and museum, is the only remaining representative of the original Tomales High School.

The interior of the building’s main floor is little changed from its days as a high school auditorium and gym. The rows of large double-hung windows are all in working order. The original fir floor and tongue-in-groove wall paneling have been retained, and the stage is intact. The roof is supported by exposed trusses from which hang the original light fixtures. The basement level, once the school cafeteria and extra classroom space, now includes a secondary archival storage room and a comfortable meeting room, available for small community events.


Our Growing Collection

These early Tomales High School Commencement programs seem of remarkable style and quality for such a small rural school.

These early Tomales High School Commencement programs seem of remarkable style and quality for such a small rural school.

The History Center’s Collection began almost simultaneously with the organization itself, as neighbors, friends, and family members donated photographs, artifacts, and archival records of all kinds.

Over these forty years, our Collection has continued to grow. It now includes thousands of items, most of which serve as primary or secondary sources to enhance our research and illuminate the region’s past.

For more information about our Collection, or if you have something you would like to donate to it, please see the Collections section on the Study Hall page.


Governance

Tomales High School’s cafeteria occupied the auditorium’s lower level. Today a section of this space serves as the TRHC’s meeting room.

Tomales High School’s cafeteria occupied the auditorium’s lower level. Today a section of this space serves as the TRHC’s meeting room.

The Tomales Regional History Center is governed by a Board of Directors, each member serving for a two-year term. The Directors are selected by the members at our annual General Meeting, traditionally held on the first Sunday of November in conjunction with our Open House.

2019-20 Board of Directors

  • Elizabeth Mitchell, President

  • Kip Spragens, Vice President

  • Georgia Marino, Secretary

  • Linda Mendoza, Treasurer

  • Paul Elmore

  • Kathryn LeMieux

  • Alice Redding

  • Kathleen Sartori

Exhibits & Collection

  • Ginny MacKenzie Magan, Curator

To contact Ginny or a member of the board, please use the form on the Contact page.


To me, history … isn’t just part of our civic responsibility. To me it’s an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.
— David McCollough, Interview, National Endowment for the Humanities