Museum Estate Sale Raising Funds for New Blacksmith Exhibit
The Saratoga Historical Foundation is having an estate sale on August 12 from 9-4 PM to raise funds for a blacksmith exhibit. The sale will include a mixture of donated items: antiques, tools, kitchen items, dinnerware, household items, glassware, dishes, cookware, toys and children items, arts and crafts items, holiday gifts and decorations and more. The public is invited to donate items also—no large furniture, appliances, clothing or used shoes.

The Historical Park presently has the McWilliams House, an 1860s pioneer cottage formerly owned by James McWilliams, the town’s second blacksmith. Furnished with period items, the home is an example of how pioneers lived in the 1800s. The home is used to teach pioneer living to children in 2-5th grades. Other buildings on-site and used in the program include the museum and the one-room schoolhouse. The blacksmith exhibit will be a wonderful enhancement to the program.

Donations of items can be dropped off at the museum from 1-4 PM Friday and Sunday and 10-4 on Saturday prior to the sale. Or by calling 408-867-4311 if you have items that need to be picked up. Or you can donate money toward the blacksmith exhibit by sending a check to: Saratoga Historical Foundation/blacksmith exhibit at PO Box 172, Saratoga, CA 95071. Contributions to the exhibit of $5000 or more will be listed on a plaque on the outside of the exhibit. Or you can stop by and find a treasure on August 12.

The museum is located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga, CA. For more information go up to or call 408-867-4311. Walking tours, museum tours are available by reservation.

Free Film on President Theodore Roosevelt
Join us for a free viewing of the film “The Indomitable Theodore Roosevelt” on Tuesday September 12 at 7:30 PM at the Saratoga History Museum (20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga). The event will be hosted by Ray Cosyn, Director of the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

Roosevelt was an author, explorer, soldier, naturalist as well as the 26th President of the United States. He authored over 26 books, initiated the First US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment known as the Rough Riders, is one of four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore, won the Nobel Prize for Peace for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War and secured the route and began construction of the Panama Canal.

Free Film on John Philip Sousa-- March King
Enjoy a free viewing of “If You Knew Sousa” and delight in the marching music of John Philip Sousa on Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 at the Saratoga History Museum (20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga). The event will be hosted by Ray Cosyn, Director of the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

John Philip Sousa is known as the “March King” for his work. His best known marches are The Stars and Stripes Forever; Semper Fidelis, the official march of the US Marine Corp; and Liberty Bell to mention a few. Sousa also invented the sousaphone, a large brass instrument similar to a tuba. Find out more about this talented musician.

New Exhibit—Casa Tierra, House of Earth Opens July 28
Casa Tierra, House of Earth—a new exhibit opens July 28 at the Saratoga History Museum. The Saratoga house is 13000 square feet and is the largest non-secular adobe house in North America. The unique house was built from handmade bricks from the earth it stands on by two women in 1941. The exhibit will run from July 28-November 12.

The house is located on Quito Road and is listed on Saratoga’s heritage resource inventory.

Maude Meagher, 46 and Carolyn Smiley, 51 came to Saratoga in 1941 seeking a new home to live in and a place to publish their children’s magazine World Youth. They had successfully launched and published the magazine in 1936 in Boston for five years and decided to move west.

They liked the land they saw in Saratoga and purchased two acres on Quito Road. At that time the land was surrounded by orchards. Using string and stakes made from a crate of oranges they plotted the house they wanted to build. The earth was bulldozed and soon earth mixed with straw, water and oil in a mixing machine made from an old Studebaker stripped of parts and began to make bricks. The earth was hand shaped into bricks 18x12x4 and weighed approximately 75 pounds! It took five years to complete the house. Two local men helped lay the foundation for the home.

The over 800 windows provide natural light for the house. Because of the number and irregular size of the windows, the women chose discontinued plate glass windshields from a junkyard. Using a glass cutter, they hand cut the glass needed for the windows.

Over 23,000 handmade roof tiles were used to cover Casa Tierra. These tiles were the last of the replacement tiles used on California’s Spanish missions. The replacement tiles are almost identical to those original tiles made by the Native Americans. Under direction of the Spanish builders, Native American women would form the original mission tiles on their thighs. This gave the tiles a shape of wide at one end and narrow on the other.

The Saratoga History Museum is located at 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road in Saratoga. The museum is open from 1-4 PM Friday and Sunday and from 10-4 PM on Saturday. Admittance is free.

New Public Art for Saratoga Honoring Betty and Willys Peck
How does a city honor citizens who have been critical to the evolution and character of the city?? One way is by works of art. Saratoga’s well- known historian Willys Peck, now deceased, and his legendary teacher-author wife, Betty are such people.

The Saratoga Historical Foundation is sponsoring the creation of life-size bronze figures of Willys and Betty Peck sitting on their famous “Count Your Blessings” bench, with room for people to sit next to them. Noted sculptor Jerry Smith has agreed to render the statues using the “lost wax” process. Smith has created many sculptures including a bronze work for the Saratoga Foothill Club, Bellarmine College, Santa Clara University and more.

No public money is being sought for the project, instead it will be financed by private donations. Willys and Betty Peck have both contributed much to the community. Willys Peck a historian, lawyer, newspaperman, train buff and playwright died in 2013. Peck worked for the Mercury News for a total of 55 years. The lifelong resident of Saratoga documented his memories of Saratoga in several books and worked to preserve Saratoga’s rich history. Betty Peck, known as an innovative educator has spent over 55 years in early education. She created the first community garden in Saratoga. She is also an author of two books on early education.

Placement of the final work will be determined later, but two locations are currently being considered: Blaney Plaza facing Willys and Betty’s beloved town; the front area of the Saratoga History Museum. A committee, chaired by Hugh Roberts, has been formed to raise the funds. “The idea of creating the city of Saratoga originated in the Peck’s garden with a group of like-minded individuals, and the Pecks have always embodied the heart and spirit of Saratoga,” Roberts said.

The goal is to raise $70,000, half right away to get the project underway in order to have it completed within one year. Names of all contributors will be on a scroll given to Betty Peck. Contributions over $250 will receive a copy of Willys’ book, Saratoga Stereopticon, autographed by Betty Peck in appreciation. All contributions should be sent to the Saratoga Historical Foundation, PO Box 172 Saratoga CA 95071 noting ATTN Peck Bench. Tax deductible confirmation will be provided. More information can be found by e-mailing or contacting Hugh Roberts at:

The Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum
The Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum located at Saratoga Historical Park: 20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Saratoga, CA
Subscribe to our e-mail list
  • 2017 Upcoming Events
  • Aug 12 Museum Estate Sale Raising Funds for New Blacksmith Exhibit
  • Sept 12 Free Film on President Theodore Roosevelt; 7:30pm
  • Oct 12 Free Film on John Philip Sousa-- March King; 7:30pm

Tell Us About Your Saratoga!
The Saratoga Historical Foundation collects memories and information about Saratoga places, people and more. Please complete the form HERE and help us add to our records! Thank you.

Some Free Things To Do!
Get in touch with local history by taking our historic landmark walking tour, bicycling the historic house tour, and walking around our historic garden with a self-guided tour.

Get out your camera and your walking shoes! The Saratoga Historical Foundation offers docent-led walking tours or you can download the tour and take a self-guided one. The docent-led tours last about 60 minutes with lots of easy walking. Meet your fellow “time travellers” and get some exercise at the same time. Make an appointment today by calling 408-867-4311 and take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the history of your community.

Forget about driving and bicycle our historic house tour. See over 30 heritage homes on this self-guided bicycle tour. Want just a little exercise? Walk the historic garden in the Saratoga Historical Park—a copy of the self-guided tour is available outside near the Museum door or by downloading. The plants look different with each season so there is reason to return again and again. Find out how Native American children used ferns.

The walking tour, historic house bicycle tour, and the garden tour maps can be downloaded from this site.

Speaker Available
If you are in need of a speaker on history and local Saratoga history—contact Saratoga Historical Foundation Historian Ray Cosyn. Cosyn has developed the following presentations—most 30-40 minutes in length with quality slides using historic images:

  • Saratoga: A Lumber Town, traces the history of Saratoga from the Ohlone’s to the present historic village. The excitement of the once rollicking lumber town to the battle for incorporation is of interest to every Saratogan.
  • The Interurban Railway, yearn for the days of a trip by rail to San Jose or Palo Alto on the sleek Interurban Railway? The mass transit train, carrying packages and people, once quietly traveled the Santa Clara Valley.
  • Prohibition—sit back and enjoy hearing about the driest town in the valley – a period of time that lasted over 40 years. Interesting stories about the effect of Prohibition on the local wineries (including Paul Masson) will make you smile.
  • Lincoln’s Funeral Train- miracles and sadness traveled with the death of Present Abraham Lincoln as his funeral train made it’s last journey.
  • Flying Tigers – find out more about these intrepid Americans who fought an air war prior to WWII for freedom in China.
The presentations are appropriate for groups of all ages. Cosyn has given presentations to those interested in the Civil War, railroads, winemakers, high schools, as well as local history and other organizations. If you are interested in having Cosyn speak before your organization, you can contact him HERE. More information on lectures HERE.

Plans for a New Blacksmith Exhibit
The recorded sounds of a blacksmith forge might ring in the hills as the Saratoga Historical Foundation raises funds to convert an existing outside area into an interactive blacksmith exhibit. The blacksmith exhibit ties into the nearby 1850’s McWilliams House because the owner, James McWilliams was Saratoga’s second blacksmith.

The blacksmith exhibit will house tools and items normally worked on by a blacksmith. Some interactivity and possibly sound effects will be available. Also planned is a nonfunctional outhouse—as part of the turn of the century theme of all the structures in the Saratoga Historical Park. All the structures—McWilliams House, one-room schoolhouse, museum, and soon the blacksmith exhibit are used to teach pioneer living as well as Saratoga’s rich history.

If you would like to contribute to this exhibit ($5000 contribution and higher will be part of a plaque on the outside of the exhibit), please send your contribution to: Blacksmith Exhibit, c/o Saratoga Historical Foundation, PO Box 172, Saratoga, CA 95071. Your donation is tax deductible.

Support the Saratoga Historical Foundation with AmazonSmile

The Saratoga Historical Foundation is now on the AmazonSmile list. Visit when you want to purchase an item and select the Saratoga Historical Foundation, by doing so, .5% of your purchase will be donated to the Saratoga Historical Foundation. No extra cost to you-- it is part of a program initiated by Amazon to give back to the community.

Community Service
Saratoga High School students looking to fulfill community service requirements can contact Linda Hagelin at the Saratoga History Museum. Please e-mail HERE with the date you can work. The museum is open Friday-Saturday and Sunday from 1-4PM.

Saratoga Historical Foundation  ·  20450 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Saratoga, CA 95070-5935  ·  #408.867.4311