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The Sacramento Valley Museum Association is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and promoting interest in the historical development of the Sacramento Valley from the mid 19th through the mid 20th century. This collection strives to connect a rich multi-cultural history of the area with the community that has been built since and exists today.
History of the SVM
The building that houses the Sacramento Valley Museum was built in 1911 to serve as Williams Union High School. The school graduated classes until 1956, when a new high school was built. It sat dormant for six years until Sacramento Valley residents took up its cause.
On August 15, 1962, architect Alvin Fingado visited the Williams High School building to ascertain its condition and determine what work would be needed to put the building in good condition. Fingado concluded that, among other things, the roof and skylight needed replacement and repair and the electrical wiring, the heating plant, and the plumbing system were in need of attention. He estimated that in total the work would cost between $20,000 and $25,000 to put the building in good condition, however it would cost considerably less with volunteer labor and donations. By February 1964, Lulu Salter, president of the Sacramento Valley Museum Association, put it aptly, “Our building has tremendous possibilities . . . all we need is manpower and money.” Lulu Salter was not only the president of the Association, she was the impetus for organizing a regional museum in Colusa County. If not for Lulu Salter and numerous board members, staff and volunteers, the Sacramento Valley Museum would not exist today.
A building of such a massive size and in need of such extensive repairs would indeed take a long time to complete. Repairs to the old building would turn out to be long-term; however, the museum would open long before those repairs were complete. In February 1963, The Williams Farmer reported that, “It is very seldom, in these modern days, that an organization can muster men, women, and children in a large body to perform voluntary projects.” Indeed, over the course of two years from 1962 to 1964 groups of volunteers worked hard to repair the building and put together exhibits. The group of citizens who made up the first board of the Sacramento Valley Museum Association, in an effort to encourage interest in the developing museum, opened for viewing in March 1963. This was not even one year after architect Alvin Fingado stated the long-term repairs necessary to make the building inhabitable. The Museum was open for six months and then closed for repairs that were more extensive. The Museum officially opened in June 1964. In addition to exhibits of historic material, there were art exhibits and a room dedicated to art classes for the community.
Van Zant’s sentiments were true at the time and remain the focus of the Museum today. Nothing at the Museum would be possible, however, without the dedication of the board members, volunteers, and staff who served the Museum faithfully through the years. Although we can never do justice to their long hours of hard work and determination, we would like to thank the men, women, and children who have worked so hard from 1962 to the present to keep the Sacramento Valley Museum a place where the history of the region is on display.
 Alvin Fingado, “Examination of Physical Premises of Williams High School – 1911,” 7 November 1962. Author Unknown, “Museum Lists Progress Report; Plans Opening for Spring,” The Williams Farmer, 20 February 1964. Author Unknown, “Sacramento Valley Museum Plans Opening; Committee Names Van Zant as Director,” The Williams Farmer, 14 February 1963. Frank Van Zant, “What is a Museum?” The Williams Farmer, 7 March 1963.
Board of Trustees
2019 - 2020
President: Arno Martini
Vice President: Slim Edwards
Treasurer: Brett Perry
Secretary: Cindy Gobel
Dixie La Grande