The Historical Society of Pomona Valley, Inc. was organized on March 2, 1916 in the committee room of the Pomona Public Library with a charter membership of 28. The organization came as a result of the vision and inspiration of Mrs. J.W. Wilkinson, who recognized the importance of the history connected with the lives of the early settlers of this valley and the distressing lack of recorded data concerning these people. Miss Sarah Jacobus, the Librarian, was the driving force behind the creation of the Society.
The Society set about collecting and preserving these important documents and photos. The descendents of the early California Settlers were very cooperative and the Society gathered a vast collection of manuscripts, documents, papers, maps, books, and photos which were placed in the Pomona Public Library under the protection of the Librarian who was also the Curator of the Society. The materials were made availabe for reference. Today, these materials are still available in the Special Collections section.
In the early years the Society held public meetings at which noted individuals were invited as speakers. Once each year a dinner meeting, now our Annual Meeting, was the social event of the year for members and their friends. The Society maintained a courtesy booth at the Los Angeles County Fair with members always being present to extend greetings. Today the Society continues to be very much a part of the Fair with a booth in Heritage Farms providing activites for children during the hours of Fair operation.
In the 1930's and 40's, each year the Society hosted a tour of the various historic spots in Southern California. Descriptive data was provided concerning the places visited. The Society's albums contain many photos of the annual tours.
In 1936 the Society sponsored an historical pageant in cooperation with the Los Angeles county Fair depicting the life for one hundred years in the Pomona Valley. The pageant was performed in the grandstand with all of the Pomona Valley communities participating.
Markers placed by the Society at historic sites can be seen today, the most significant being the monument in Ganesha Park honoring the memory of the three original owners of Rancho San Jose-Ygnacio Palomares, Ricardo Vejar and Luis Arenas- which was placed on Oct 13, 1934.
The first major restoration project undertaken by the Society was that of the Adobe de Palomares in the late 1930's. the Society did a great deal of research and carefully drew plans so that the home would stand authentically restored as the "House of Hospitality" of by-gone days. The plans are available for viewing in the Museum. The restored and authentically furnished home was dedicated on April 6, 1940. the grandson of Ygnacio Palomares, Don Porfirio Palomares, and his wife were the first resident host and hostess. During the first year 13,500 visitors from 46 states and 8 foreign countries toured the Adobe.
In 1966 the Historical Society purchased the Phillips Mansion and, after minor restoration opened it to the public in 1974. Since the 1990 earthquake the Mansion has been closed and in the process of restoration. The Society purchased La Casa Primera and restored it, in a joint effort with the City of Pomona in 1973.
In 1975 the Pomona Unified School District deeded the Barbara Greenwood Kindergarten to the Society. The Kindergarten was moved to the Casa Primera property and was enjoyed as a field trip for Pomona kindergarten students for many years. In 2005 the building was completely restored through a grant obtained by the City.
In 2004 the Historical Society was given the Currier Ranch House by the City of Industry, who also paid for the cost of relocation. The building was relocated to the Phillips Mansion property and almost immediately was the setting for the Tobe Hooper film The Mortuary.
In October of 2004 the Society conducted a Haunted Mansion with a thousand people touring the Mansion and the event generating $8,000 profit and a lot of interest in the history. The Society will again conduct a Haunted Mansion in the Phillips in October with a Victorian theme of premature burial.
In 2005 the Historical Society was given the Pomona Ebell Club Building and in April opened the Pomona Museum of History. The Ebell Building has allowed the Society to support the museum and has generated funds for the maintenance, restoration, and preservation of the Ebell and for the other sites.
The history of the Historical Society includes the preservation of many beautiful old buildings. Most recently the City approved the plans for the adaptive re-use of the Hugues Winery for which the Society applied for single Historic Landmark status in 2003. The Society is very proud of our work and of our many accomplishments. Of the many advantages of being an active part of the Historical Society, the greatest advantage, as has been true throughout the ninety years of the existence of the Society, is the association with the wonderful people who are involved. The Society is made up of people of vision, dedication, commitment, passion, tenacity, energy, and creativity. We welcome all to become an active part of the Society and to share our rich and productive history.