Visiting Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum

Have you ever wondered where the name of a street comes from? Since I was a child I had this curiosity. For a period my parents were the ones giving me answers and teaching me about the different personalities and also the events that lead to naming a street. After learning how to read, they encouraged me to do my own research. This way, as a result of my interest in names, I’ve grown to love wondering on tangled library hallways and searching through dusty folders in archives. Nowadays I choose the easy way, I google the name of the street.

During my visit to Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum I had a pleasant surprise finding out why the authorities named several streets after the famous Murphy family. The Murphy family were among the original settlers in Santa Clara Valley and Sunnyvale was originally named Murphy Station. They facilitated the extension of the railroad by donating land therefore the railroad officials awarded them a train stop.

“Martin Murphy, Jr. settled in the area that is now Sunnyvale. He had his home milled to his specifications in Bangor, Maine and it was shipped around the Horn in 1850. It was assembled in Sunnyvale using wooden pegs and leather straps as there were no sawmills. It was the first frame house in the area. This house was continuously lived in by members of the Murphy family until it was given to the City of Sunnyvale in 1950. It was made a State Historical Landmark in 1958, but was unfortunately demolished by the city in 1961 due to extensive fire damage.” (source  Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum)

The museum building is similar to the original Murphy family house. The curator described all the major facilities built by the family. She also portrayed them as the benefactors of education by opening schools. Three towns – San Martin, Sunnyvale and Murphys have this family as founders. Especially relevant for the social life in California is the Murphys’ 50th wedding anniversary. “The Murphy house was the site of the largest private party ever held in California. General invitations were sent out and it is estimated that over 10,000 people came. Special trains came from San Francisco and San José for it. The party lasted three days. Wood from the 1000 square foot dance floor constructed for the celebration was later donated to the priests for the first Mountain View Chapel there.” (source  Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum)

I’ve spent a fruitful day at the museum enjoying the scenery and most of all learning about California’s roots.

Here are some pictures from that day.

Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum

Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum



Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum


Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum


Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum

Have you ever wondered where the name of a street comes from?


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