Thursday, April 14, 2016

Village Green Heritage Center, 4/06/2016

Located in a park-like setting amid hotels, restaurants, and shops on famous Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, CA, two 19th century pioneer homes can be seen at the Village Green Heritage Center. Also located here is the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

The Cornelia White House, constructed of railroad ties was built in 1893 on the Palm Springs Hotel property. Cornelia (1874-1961), born in upstate New York, was one of eleven children. She was an independent woman who toured Europe, traveled the Nile in Egypt, and migrated to Mexico in 1912 as a colonist on a tract of land purchased for American development. The next year she and her sister (Dr. Florilla White) escaped Mexican revolutions via a railroad handcar traveling 80 miles to the coast of Mexico. Cornelia and her sister moved to Palm Springs where they lived for the remainder of their lives. 

Cornelia was usually seen dressed in riding breeches, leather jacket and boots (which are on display at the house). She and her sister joined several cattle drives in the area as well. 

The house was moved to Tahquitz in 1959 and Cornelia lived in it until her death in 1961. In 1979 is was moved to the Village Green as it is the second oldest building in Palm Springs. 

Much of the furnishing in the house was owned by Cornelia. The rest are period pieces of the time.

There is no admission see to tour the house.

McCallum Adobe, the oldest remaining building in Palm Springs. It was built in 1884 of adobe by John Guthrie McCallum when he and his family (wife and five kids) moved to here for the dry, warm climate (due to his son's tuberculosis). He made a living by selling crops he grew and parcels of the land he originally purchased when he arrived. They were the first white settlers in the area. 

Today the building houses a museum with various exhibits about the history of Palm Springs (no admission fee although a $1 donation is suggested). 

The first known inhabitants of the area were the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians known for the beautiful basketry. 

Frank Sinatra began vacationing in Palm Springs in the 1940s. He loved the area so much he quickly engaged an architect to design a home for him here. He was a very visible desert citizen participating in many local events and raising large sums of money that he contribute to various medical centers. There is a timeline exhibit in the museum that outlines his 50-year stay in the area.

Many other celebrities made Palm Springs their home as well. On display here is a dress designed and used for the movie, High Society, featuring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra (all residents of Palm Springs). In the background is a photo with Bob Hope when he was "honorary mayor" of the city.

The Palm Springs Road Race was first held in 1950, showcasing the fastest and most beautiful sports cars of the time. It attracted celebrities (James Dean, Clark Cable, etc.) and fans alike. In 1956, well known race car drivers John McAfee and Carroll Shelby participated driving two Ferraris. The following year, Shelby won driving a Maserati. The race is held today on a 3-mile track at the Palm Springs International Airport. 

The building for Ruddy's 1930s General Store Museum was built in 1987 and donated to the city of Palm Springs by James F. Ruddy. 

Ruddy collected general store merchandise from the 1930s and early 1940s. This museum displays one of the largest and most complete collections of unused general store merchandise in the US. Admission is 95 cents.

More than 6,000 unused items and individual products are displayed and 95% are filled with their original contents. 

Our final stop at the Heritage Center was the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Founded in 1991 to preserve the culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and other Native American people, the museum holds educational and cultural programs and displays various exhibits at this location. Opportunities to study the museum's collection is available by appointment to researchers and students. The Board of Directors has launched a $65M capital campaign for a new 110,000 square foot museum that will be located in Palm Springs. 

The current exhibit is IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in America focusing on the complex lives of people of dual African American and Native American Heritage. 

The exhibit was produced by the National Museum of the American Indian in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture with the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Series. We found the exhibit very interesting as it presented information totally unknown to me on the journey of these people in our country's history experiencing discrimination by white settlers and some Indian tribes. 

Admission is free to the museum. A gift and book shop can be found in the lobby. See their website for additional information about the museum, its programs, hours of operation and future plans:

If you are in the Palm Springs area, I would definitely recommend that you stop by for a visit to the Village Green Heritage Center.

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