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Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum

The Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum is a Treasure Trove of Silicon Valley History

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The first inhabitants to what would later become Santa Clara County were the Ohlone Indians. In the late 1700s, the Spanish arrived and established the Mission Santa Clara. The Mission building was built by members of the Christian converts of the Ohlone tribe. Agriculture and farm labor were the main industry in Santa Clara Country at the time. By the 1800’s, the Chinese began to arrive and work the farmlands. The history of Sunnyvale involves the Chinese being legally, but unfairly, being driven out of the farmlands by the Chinese Execution Act. This left very few Chinese in Sunnyvale.

A variety of immigrants from all over the world flooded into Sunnyvale to work the farms, making it a diverse and cultural community. After the start of World War II, Sunnyvale began to evolve in a different direction than its agricultural roots. Its popularity in technology and manufacturing grew and continues to grow even today. The Silicon Valley became a place where the defense industry and the Navy began making weaponry. It soon replaced the agriculture industry.

Silicon Valley and Sunnyvale history is written by workers who are in these industries that helped drive the economy and employment in the area. Their stories are captured in the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum.

The Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum is full of rich historical exhibits that highlight the founding families of the city of Sunnyvale. One family of note were the Murphys, one of the prominent families of Sunnyvale and among the first to settle in the Santa Clara Valley. They even predated the Donner family. In fact the museum is designed to look exactly like the Murphy home. The original Murphy home was built in Maine. It was later taken apart, and then shipped through San Francisco where it was later rebuilt in Sunnyvale.

Since the Murphy family had donated land extending the railroad, the town was named after them as Murphy Station, before it changed to Sunnyvale. A fire destroyed the home in 1961, and resulted in the building of the Central Expressway.

In 1881 Mr. and Mrs. Murphy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary which was the biggest party California had ever seen at the time. Over 10,000 people celebrated at the Murphy home, a very impressive event for a home that had no indoor bathrooms. However, today the Murphy house is fully equipped with bathrooms. Also, while visiting, you’ll get to see full recreations of the rooms, including the family parlor, dining room, pantry, and bedrooms. All the rooms include a variety of the original furnishings from that period.

There are other exhibits that include artifacts from Sunnyvale such as the agricultural past and the technological present. The crown jewel of the museum is the mural that surrounds an entire room. This gives visitors a panoramic view of the history of Sunnyvale. They can see the Native American inhabitants, early apricot farmers, and the transformation of the Silicon Valley. If you’re a history buff and want to take a step back in time, the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum is a wonderful place to look back at the history of Sunnyvale.
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