By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Mantecas museum in 25th year
Visitors browse the ever-changing displays at the Manteca Historical Musuem. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Dave Winegarden’s life-long fascination with museums led him to serving as the president of the Manteca Historical Society.

His first visit to a museum was arranged by his father.

“This is where you learn,” Winegarden recalled his father saying.

As a boy, however, Winegarden admitted his main interest wasn’t learning but rather looking over displays such as guns. It was, however, the start of being a history buff. As a 12-year-old his parents would drop him off at the local museum and he’d spend hours exploring exhibits with his friend.

Today the museum that piques his interest can be found at 600 West Yosemite Avenue just west of downtown Manteca.

Winegarden shared with Manteca Rotarians meeting at Ernie’s Thursday the history and offerings of the museum that was founded 25 years ago by a group of people headed up by Ken Hafer. They were  dedicated to preserving the area history.

“It started with garage-style meetings that attracted 400 people at a time,” Winegarden said.

That broad base of support was critical not only to launching the museum but sustaining it. Winegarden noted that $20,560 or 48 percent of the annual operating budget or comes from membership dues.

With only one part-time employee — museum manager Clancy Rogers — the museum relies on a small army of volunteers to do everything from ever as docents and maintain exhibits and the building to raising funds.

The first board consisted of Hafer as president, the late Bill Perry as vice president, Lois Page as secretary, and Ron Howe as treasurer.

The first museum was in the old Christian Science Reading Room at 214 Polar immediately north of the Center Street tennis courts. The museum’s collection quickly outgrew the 800-square-foot building.

Thanks to a $92,000 community block grant and a donation of $50,000 the museum was able to move into its present home that originally was the Methodist Church that was built in 1918. The new location opened on Feb. 7, 1993. The historical society’s 8,000-square-foot home was unable to accommodate a number of agricultural-related exhibits prompting the addition of what is today known as the Mabel Brocchini Exhibit Building.

The newer building houses farm-related machinery and other agricultural exhibits as well as the City of Manteca’s 1918 LaFrance fire engine that is on permanent loan. The fire engine appears at various city events throughout the year including the holiday and Fourth of July parades.

Winegarden noted there are numerous exhibits including specific ones dealing with Spreckels Sugar, Manteca Hospital/Doctors Hospital, Delicato Vineyards, the military, schools, City of Manteca, and more.

“People think that a museum is (just about things),” Winegarden said. “It’s about people.”

And those people, he noted, are involved because they want to celebrate history — learn about it, read about it, and talk about it.

The museum is available for group tours and meetings. Regular hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. as well as Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Annual membership fees range from $5 for students, $15 for individuals and $25 for couples and $50 for families to $100 for organizations and above.

For information about membership go to or call 825.3021.

The next fundraiser will be the selling of fireworks for the Fourth of July in the museum parking lot.