California Area Historical Society

California Area Historical Society

Web Page
Mailing Address:
Post Office Box 624
California, PA 15419-0624
Phone 724-938-3250
Physical Location:
The Gallagher House
429 Wood Street @ 5th St.
California, PA
We're open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - 9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

Mission Statement

Calender of EVENTS

The California Area Historical Society "With Song and Celebration" Holiday Open House is December 15 and 16 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Gallagher House on the corner of Fifth and Wood Streets. Honoring those who lost their lives on 9/11 will be an Angel display in the living room featuring many angels loaned to the Society by community members. Of special interest in the parlor will be the Beyer Carolers from the collection of Kathryn Hart Sullivan. The dining room will feature a patriotic theme dedicated to freedom. Refreshments will also be served in the dining room.

Plan your visit at a time when you can enjoy some of the festivities listed below:
Saturday, Dec. 15 -
Noon... Linda Jukes (Guitarist / violinist)
1p.m. - 3:30 p.m.... The Valley Chordsmen, Craig Matty and Todd Sproul, soloists

Sunday, Dec. 16 -
Noon - First Presbyterian Church Choir, Director Edie Skekel.
1:15 p.m. -United Methodist Church Choir, Director Linda Jukes.
2: 00 p.m. California Area Middle School Carolers, Director Elyse Horath.

The Society welcomes friends and Families to this annual open house. There is no admission charge.
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The Gallagher House
One of California's finest examples of an early twentieth-century colonial revival house is the Gallagher House.  Built in 1903 by Jonathan Winnett Jennings, a Methodist minister in the Monongahela Valley area, the house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in March of 1996, and is dedicated as the site of the California Area Historical Society. The building is reserved for use by scholars of California and Washington County  history and houses collections of  local history, genealogies, and research material. The 2 1/2 story brick structure is located at the corner of Fifth and Wood Streets, California Borough, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

The house was owned by the Jennings family until 1919 when Margaret Jennings deeded the property to Charles  McCormick.  Shortly after, Louis Koller, a local merchant, purchased the house and resided in it until 1930 when  the Gallagher family acquired the home. Charles Gallagher was the general superintendent of the Allied Chemical  Corporation at Newell, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Peoples National Bank and the Board of  trustees at nearby California University of Pennsylvania.  In 1993, his descendants generously donated the property  to the Historical Society.

The first floor entrance of the Gallagher House features stained glass fleur-de-lis sidelights and transom and original  wrought iron chandeliers. Tall pairs of pocket doors open into north and south parlors where fireplace mantles, typical  of each room in the house, are adorned in classical details. The first floor of the Gallagher House is used for a reception  area and historical displays. The central hall stair leads to the second floor where the history library, archives room, and  office area are located.   Cherry and quarter-sawn oak pattern woodwork and mission-style mantels enhance the rooms,  once used as bedrooms and a nursery. A winding stair leads to the attic.

The Gallagher House is located at 429 Wood Street, California. It is open for historic research and study on Tuesdays,  Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  For additional information, call 724-938-3250.

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Membership Information
Members recieve The California Crier, the Official Publication of the Society, packed with historical data and news of the area and the Society, as well as other interesting and infomative stories. For more information on other member benifits, contact the Society.  To download a membership form, click here.

Meeting dates and times

The society holds a large number of photographs of many of it residents, both identified and unknown.  Photos of known persons, some of which date into the 1800's are indexed.  A sampling of these photos will appear here, in the future.

Available at the Gallagher House:
Sesquicentennial Items -  California 150 celebration commemoratives which were sold at various events are now available for sale at the Society.  The items include T-shirts and hand thrown pottery made by a local potter.  The pottery items are oven and microwave proof and include pie plates, pint jars and lamps.
The California historical scene coverletes. This beautiflil coverlet was commissioned by the Cal 150 Sesquicentennial Committee and created by We Love Country. It is 100% cotton, two-layer, Jacquard woven, in the USA, preshrunk, colorfast, and machine washable. It is handsome and practical measuring approximately 46 x 68 inches, and fringed on all four sides.  The coverlet features many of California's major historical and cultural attractions.
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Historical Tidbits
The following is a short historical background of the locations featured on the 150th Annivesary Coverlet:
Pennsylvania Railroad Station: Used for many years by commuters up and down the river, it is now the home of the California Public Library.

Borough Building: Dedicated in 1997, this building is a symbol of rebirth in our community.

The Academy: Built in 1852, it was the forerunner of the college, California University of Pa.

The Sailor: One of the largest and best known of the sternwheelers that plied the Monongahela. California was a well known boat-building site.

Gallagher House: Built in 1903, it was home to the Gallagher family for many years, donated to the California Area Historical Society, Inc. in 1993 as their home.

Veterans Memorial: This is dedicated to all veterans who have fought to defend our country and its ideals and principles.

Methodist Church: Dedicated in 1860, originally Kier's Chapel, first church building in California.

Horseshoe Bend in the Monongahela River: also known as Greenfield Bend, it gives a wide panoramic view of California Coal Center, and Newell.

Intermediate Unit I: Established by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1971 as a successor to the county school offices, Intermediate Unit I is one of only 29 regional educational service agencies in the Commonwealth. Committed to serving all the learners of Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties, Intermediate Unit I also committed to staying~in California Borough by moving into its new facility in 1993.

Center in the Woods: The Center in the Woods is a multipurpose senior community center serving older adults from a five county area. Programs include meals, transportation, adult day care, socialillation, recreation, education, exercise, intergenerational shared housing, and supportive service in three senior apartment buildings. Its newest program is the Health Clinic at Center in the Woods: which offers medical appointments with a geriatrician.

Old Main: The first building constructed at the college, now California University of Pa. and has always been the symbol of the school.

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List of the officers:
On Thursday, January 25, at its annual meeting, the Society elected the following officers and Executive Committee:
Mary Beth Graf, President
Donna Smith, Vice-President
Patricia Cowen, Secretary
Gerald Cowen, Treasurer
Dorothy Hambacher, Member At Large

  The Board of Directors now consists of the following people:
Gerald Cowen
Patricia Cowen
Jackie Dwyer
Mary Beth Graf
Martha Gregg
Dorothy Hambacher
Arthur Harris
Rev. Robert Higgs
Margaret Fleming Johnson
Helen Rapp
Donna Smith
Rev. David LIndberg, repesenting the California Area Ministerial Association
Wyona Coleman, representing the California Public Library
Janet Wargo, representing the California Chamber of Commerce
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The Library at the Society
 Coming soon.  A listing of the Holding in the Society Library. 
Visit the Mon Valley History and Genealogy homepage

          © Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 by Michael A. Donaldson
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