Merced County Historical Society celebrates 50 years of preserving history

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comJune 11, 2012 

Whether it was a display of old-school tractors or a line of classic cars, history was alive Saturday in front of the Courthouse Museum, as the Merced County Historical Society celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Hundreds of residents young and old attended the event, which was organized as a "thank you" to the community for years of support.

The society was established on Feb. 19, 1962, with the goal of securing funds to build a history museum and archive, according to the group's website. The society, in partnership with the county, currently operates the Merced County Courthouse Museum, which over the years has grown to become a popular regional attraction for visitors.

The group also provides educational programs and activities for schoolchildren, and has led the charge for preservation of the county's history.

Carlene Cunningham, the society's president, thanked the group's members, board and supporters for keeping the organization viable over the years. "A lot of our historic buildings and documents get thrown away. We want to preserve as much as we can for future generations so they will know what went on before they were born in Merced County," she said.

"It's a good thing to honor our supporters and bring everyone together," said Grey Roberts, the society's treasurer and the group's longest serving board member (29 years). "We really appreciate the things they do for us, and we've had a lot of support over the last 50 years."

Sarah Lim, Merced County Courthouse Museum Director, said the group started with Bill Woxberg and a group of local history buffs who recognized the importance of saving the county's history. "They started with a little history museum by the fairgrounds," Lim said.

The museum relocated to the old Merced County Courthouse in 1976 and the building was dedicated in 1983.

The celebration included a brief ceremony, with performances by the Harmony Valley Chorus, Sol de Valle Dance Troupe, Hacienda Valencia Dancing Horses and the Hilmar Community Band, among others.

Michele Deco sang the national anthem during the event.

For information about how to become a member of the historical society or how to volunteer, call (209) 723-2401.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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