The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

Today is Wednesday, March 22: Open 11am – 5pm
Directions & Admission
The MAH is open during Abbott Square construction. Enter only on Front St.

MAH Journal Unites Congregations

Posted by on November 14, 2016

by Joan Gilbert Martin, editor Do You Know My Name?


On Sunday, November 6, the MAH History Journal, Do You Know My Name? became the catalyst for uniting two congregations, one white and one black. This came about because of articles in our journal on the founding of Calvary Episcopal Church in 1863 and the founding of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church a hundred years later in 1963. As it happens, the churches are neighbors: the Calvary Church at 523 Center Street and the Progressive Church across the street at 517 Center.

After reading about the churches, members of the Calvary Church had an idea. They asked me and two other journal authors to speak at a gathering in their Parish Hall about the history of these churches. And then they asked the congregation of the Progressive Church to join us for the talks and refreshments. The Progressive congregation came, and it was a joyous occasion.

samuel-jacksonAs editor, I discussed the journal’s focus on the history of unknown people who lived in our county. Then I passed around a copy of the journal to see who could find the cover photographs of Eliza and Joseph Boston, founders of the Calvary Church, and the Reverend Samuel Jackson, first pastor of the Progressive Church. The congregations joined forces and picked them out from the many cover images that included a number of white women, several black pastors, and a few black baseball players.


Dana Bagshaw who wrote the article “The Bostons,” spoke of her research on the young couple who founded the Calvary church. She told how Eliza and Joseph started a church despite great personal difficulties including madness and suicide in the family and the death of their only son. Dana’s research also led her to the strong possibility that young Eliza (Miss Lizzie Bull) became an abolitionist while growing up in Canandaigua, New York, and that both the Bostons were abolitionists while living here in Santa Cruz.

Stanley D. Stevens who wrote the article “African American Churches in the City of Santa Cruz,” told two personal anecdotes. He spoke of standing in the rain after a rally and holding out his umbrella for Martin Luther King, Jr.—as he said, he didn’t actually meet the great man, but he did come close. He also told of attending a memorial for Reverend King at the Progressive Church shortly after King’s death. When then Reverend Cassius Ellis, asked him if he was a Christian, Stan replied: “No I am not, but I believe in the teachings of Martin Luther King.” Ellis replied: “That makes you a Christian.”

After the talks, the congregations mingled, discussing with us their newly discovered histories and enjoying the food prepared by the Calvary Church. Then we all went from the Calvary Parish Hall to the church itself, where the two congregations spontaneously raised their voices together to sing the African American Spiritual: “I’m so glad, Jesus lifted me.”

Following the event, Reverend Eliza Linley of Calvary Episcopal Church wrote me to say, “I have the sense that this will not be the last joint effort of our congregations. So thank you, thank you for bringing us together!!”


1 Comment »

The MAH represents at the History Fair

Posted by on October 17, 2016

Santa Cruz County History Fair 2016

The second Santa Cruz County History Fair, hosted again by Friends of the Cowell Lime Works, took place on October 8. It was at Louden Nelson Community Center, and featured displays and activities by more than 30 local museums, historians, historical societies, and other groups. The MAH was well represented by volunteers from many of the museum’s history groups: Publications Committee (selling the new history journal, Do You Know My Name?), Historic Landmark, and Evergreen Cemetery. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who staffed the event!

This year’s fair commemorated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Santa Cruz as an incorporated city, and the City of Santa Cruz was a co-sponsor of the event. The fair filled most of the available rooms and even hallway space at the Community Center.
“Friends” president Frank Perry (Coauthor, Lime Kiln Legacies: The History of the Lime Industry in Santa Cruz County, California) again took the lead role in organizing and running the event, as he did at last year’s inaugural History Fair. Frank estimated this year’s attendance at about 400 – about a third more than last year’s fair. The four history talks were well-attended and well-received, with standing-room-only audiences estimated at 50-70 for each presentation.


No Comments »

Journal Launch Santa Cruz County History Journal 8: Do You Know My Name?

Posted by on September 19, 2016

Front Cover of Santa Cruz County History Journal 8, Do You Know My Name?

Front Cover of Santa Cruz County History Journal 8, Do You Know My Name?

By Joan Gilbert Martin, History Journal 8 Editor

On September 2, 2016, a large First Friday crowd gathered in the MAH auditorium to hear short talks by three local historians who contributed to the latest MAH History Journal, Do You Know My Name?Martin Rizzo asked do you know the names of the Native Americans who assassinated Padre Quintana at the Santa Cruz Mission? Lisa Robinson asked do you know the names of some early eccentrics who enlivened the history of the San Lorenzo Valley? Conor O’Brien asked do we know the names of a Santa Cruz family who entertained themselves with games and visits and movies in the early days of the twentieth century.

These are just a few of the questions answered in this lively journal that tells the stories of men and women who were not in the mainstream of Santa Cruz County history, who were unknown, overlooked, or discriminated against.

Other stories answered other questions: Who were the group of squatters evicted from Rancho Bolsa del Pájaro (site of the city of Watsonville) following a quarrel between two brothers? Why did an early Hispanic settler in the Villa de Branciforte lose his standing in the community following statehood? Why did so many of the children buried at Evergreen cemetery die of so-called “natural deaths?” What were the names of the men who played on an all-black baseball team here in Santa Cruz? Who were the men and women who established the first black church in Santa Cruz? And, who were some other folk who once lived in our community, but whose stories have never been told?

Louis Berry, catcher on the all black Santa Cruz baseball team, the “California Giants,” 1909. (McKean Photo)

Louis Berry, catcher on the all black Santa Cruz baseball team, the “California Giants,” 1909. (McKean Photo)

The plan for this unorthodox history journal began over two years ago when Lisa Robinson, chair of the MAH Publications Committee, attended a memorial for the late historian Phil Reader. Phil was a local boy who spent his life researching and writing about people marginalized in their lifetime and often neglected or misrepresented by later historians. If Phil thought someone had been victimized, even if it was a hundred years ago, he set out to research their life and bring them retroactive justice. Hearing about Phil’s people, Lisa said, “Here are the subjects of our next journal.”

At the launch ceremony, authors were on hand to sign journals for the audience. Joan Gilbert Martin, editor of this eighth journal, presented Phil’s widow, Lorraine Reader, with the gift of a hardbound edition of the journal. Joan is a longtime member of the Publications Committee, a contributor to many of MAH’s preceding seven journals, and also was editor of History Journal 6, Pathways to the Past.

We are thrilled that so many attended in appreciation of this important addition to the unknown history of Santa Cruz County.

No Comments »

Martijn Stiphout turns trash into surfboards.

Posted by on September 14, 2016


This Friday, come get trashy with Ventana Surfboards at an evening of Lightning Talks at the MAH.

The theme of the night is ‘Made in Santa Cruz,’ so you’ll get to hear me and 7 other speakers give fast-paced, visual talks about local innovations. See the full list of speakers here.

In my lightning talk about Ventana Surfboards, I’ll showcase amazing local craftspeople and companies, and how we’ve turned their trash into wooden surfboards and more.

Surfers love to think of themselves as protectors of the sea, but surfboards, wetsuits and even the t-shirts surfers wear are terrible for the environment. At Ventana, we set out to create a better example for the industry.

I think of myself as the trashiest surfboard builder in the world. What started as a way to save money on materials has evolved into a passion to discover the most beautiful, exotic and historic reclaimed woods around in order to build surfable works of art.

Come get trashy with me this Friday!

Martijn Stiphout is the co-founder, master craftsman and board design visionary of Ventana Surfboards & Supplies. He was born in South Africa, moved to Germany when he was still small, then on to the Netherlands a few years later. He finally came to settle in California in 1993. See more of his bio here.

No Comments »

Abigail Han: Uprooting, Immigrant Stories, and an Inspired Recipe

Posted by on August 24, 2016

Abigail Han is a practicing artist originating from Singapore, and one of 11 Art Works residents in the MAH’s Solari Gallery during Summer 2016. Follow Abigail’s continued work at her website


Temporarily relocating from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz for this residency was by no means easy, for a number of reasons. When I first arrived, I lacked the words to fully describe my experience in this city. Having moved from Singapore to Minnesota for 4 years to attend college, I could only describe Santa Cruz as reminiscent of Minnesota by the sea. I noticed quickly, that the presence of Asians in this quaint city was far and few between. The lack of racial diversity became obvious for me because I am used to the diversity in Los Angeles where I am currently based. However, the lack of racial diversity does not necessarily mean ignorance as I quickly found out through conversations with visitors to the museum that there are many who know about the presence of the Japanese Internment camps and the Ohlones people, helping me greatly in my research of recipes relating to these two groups.

While reading up on the history of Santa Cruz, the most interesting historical fact I found was the existence of a fairly sizeable Chinese community that used to inhabit this area. Curious about the presence of the Chinese that seemed less visible in contemporary Santa Cruz, I asked some visitors who are long time residents of the area why there seems to be lesser Chinese present today. Many of them talked about the pervasive racism that plagued Santa Cruz in the past that resulted in the demise of the four Chinatowns that used to be a refuge for the Chinese in Santa Cruz, who worked mostly as domestic workers. In 1880, when the population of Chinese immigrants was on an incline, the Santa Cruz City Charter instituted the following ordinance: “No person upon any sidewalk shall carry a basket or baskets, bag or bags, suspended from or attached to poles across or upon the shoulders.” A visitor with whom I was chatting with commented on this ordinance: “They practically banned individuals from being Chinese.”

The oppressed Chinese community of historical Santa Cruz inspired me because my forefathers were also Chinese immigrants to Singapore (where I was born and raised). A difference in the choice of location for migration simply meant that in Chinese-dominant Singapore, my ancestors were treated with respect and honor affording me the racial privilege that I have now, one that can be compared similarly to the white privilege that white individuals enjoy in contemporary America.

I was particularly interested in what the Chinese ate during the time they were present in Santa Cruz. Reading about this history helped me realize that the Chinese were close to the Italian community of fishermen who went out to sea frequently. They bought fish and other types of seafood from these fishermen to include in their diet. One of the things they would purchase from them would be octopus. Having never cooked octopus myself, I decided to try my hand with this ingredient, an ingredient that would be considered a delicious delicacy for the Chinese during that time. I approached this dish using the Italian technique to soften the tough octopus (a tip of the hat to the Italians in the past who caught octopus to sell to the Chinese), cooked it in lard (a Chinese favorite!), and used local contemporary ingredients to tie in contemporary Santa Cruz.

abigail_1 Abigail_2

An Ode to Those Who Carried Baskets On Poles
Serves 2 people

2 small to medium size octopus (can be purchased at local Asian markets)
2 tomatoes (from the farmer’s market!)
2 capsicums (1 green and 1 red, from the farmer’s market!)
2 tablespoons of lard (from a happy pig!)
2 shallots
2 bay leaves
1 lemon cut in half
3 cloves of garlic
1 good bottle of dry white wine
White rice to serve
Sriracha for a little kick of spiciness
Italian parsley to garnish

  1. In a large pot, bring the octopus, dry white wine, lemon, cork, garlic, bay leaves to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the octopus until it is tender, anywhere from 60 – 90 minutes. Remove octopus and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into two. Cut capsicums shallots into thin strips.
  3. Heat a stovetop grill and add 2 tablespoons of lard to the grill. Toss tomatoes, capsicums, shallots and octopus on to the grill, cook till they brown on both sides and grill marks appear.
  4. Serve on a bed of steaming white rice with sriracha to taste (if you like it spicy!). Garnish with italian parsley.



Abigail Han

Abigail was in the gallery from July 12th – August 22nd, 2016

Taste the recipes of historical and contemporary Santa Cruz in our gallery kitchen. Abigail Han is a practicing artist originating from Singapore and currently living and working in Los Angeles. She makes experimental films and uses performance, video, installation, and drawing in her work and is interested in exploring concepts of collective memory, fragmentation of identity and language. Her work has been exhibited in Singapore, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Hong Kong, Paris, and the Czech Republic. She recently graduated with an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Abigail bridges the private space of the kitchen with the public space of the museum. Exploring Santa Cruz’s place on the coast as a hub for trade routes, the gallery kitchen will feature how historical recipes are an amalgamation of cultural roots. How does culture shape the food we eat? How does the food we eat shape culture? Given Abigail’s Singaporean roots, food has always been an interest to her. But the food’s place of preparation has remained a mystery, an offstage space. A void of historical and cultural knowledge. During her residency, Abigail charters the kitchen to the surface where she will explore historic and contemporary recipes with the public.

No Comments »