About Historic Modesto

Copyright 2017 Site and Content ny CBGraphics & Carl Baggese



Historic Modesto was originally designed as a history of Modesto, California for those who have either lived in the city all their lives or who have come here from other parts of the state, country and world and have wondered about Modesto's past and how it has affected the present.


The idea for this site was the result of questioning people about the origin of local school names or the stories behind local landmarks. Not very many people knew much about the city's history. While Modesto has a wonderful museum in the old McHenry Library and an accurately restored Victorian-era residence in the McHenry Mansion, there is little that remains of old Modesto itself. Some cities have retained a section of town as a living monument to the past. Modesto, unfortunately, chose to tear down most of its historical areas in an effort to revitalize the downtown core during the late 1960s and early 1970s.


While California has rebuilt itself many times over, Modesto has not only rebuilt itself, it has pretty much wiped out its history and grown far beyond the dreams of those who built the first buildings and populated the 48-block village. To do a little time traveling to the early days of Modesto requires a visit to local museums or thumbing through the pages of numerous books. Hopefully, beyond the two methods previously described, will help make moments in Modesto's history come to life as well.


The site is dedicated to the Native Americans of the Central Valley who were badly treated by early settlers and whose way of life vanished; but it is also dedicated to the pioneer spirit of those who dared make the trek from safe havens in the east to seek the uncertainty of the wide open west. The dreams of the earliest settlers have flourished in the great Central Valley of California and beyond to create the Golden State. Here we present one part of the story; a chance to look at what Modesto was and what it has become, for better or worse.


Historic Modesto explores the city's historic lore and has done so since the early 1990s. As references to the website, you can use two Arcadia Publishing books, "Images of America: Modesto," and "Modesto - A Postcard History." The website and the books share a common author. Signed copies of the books can be purchased at the website store.


Website sources include images and material from the McHenry Museum as well as from private collections, used by permission. Quotes come from several sources including George Tinkham's 1921 "History of Stanislaus County," and Sol P. Elias' "Stories of Stanislaus" published in 1924. Several Stanislaus County Schools publications ranging from a study of the history of area Native Americans from 1941 to the county Centennial publication, "100 Years of Progress," published in 1954, have also been used as source material. Much of the information is general knowledge that has been derived from living in the area and sharing information with other local historians.


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Artwork is from the cover of a Modesto Chamber of Commerce promotional ooklet published in 1921. If you would like to see the content of this booklet, as it appeared almost 100 years ago, Click Here.