Red Bluff's Hidden Gem
9 Jul 2019
Blog, Things to Do, Local Life and Business, Arts and Culture
We're excited to introduce our first guest writer, the ever-so-talented, Kelly Dolling! Kelly is a writer, marketer and loves promoting local. We're excited to feature her community-focused articles on our blog!
Written By: Kelley Dolling
There is a hidden gem tucked just blocks away from downtown Red Bluff. It has been hiding in plain sight for more than a century, but is so often overlooked. I’m ashamed to say that it has taken me nearly 40 years to experience everything this perfect destination has to offer. Is your interest peaked? We sure hope so . . . as this magical house deserves a closer look.
The Kelly-Griggs Museum is full of storytelling treasures that speak to the rich history of Tehama County. With an extensive collection of exhibits and displays built mainly from local family donations, tour-goers have the opportunity to learn fascinating facts about our community.
The story behind the acquisition of the home is truly captivating (at least to this history-loving family). Sidney Allen Griggs originally built the house in the late 1800s to impress a lady. After Griggs’ death, the home was sold in the 1930s to the Kelly family (hence the name). It wasn’t until 1965 that the Kelly-Griggs House Museum Association was organized by the Association of American University Women (AAUW) to purchase the home from the remaining Kelly sibling. The organization’s goal – to establish a local museum to “help preserve the past for present and future generations.”
How do I know all of this you ask? I had the pleasure of chatting with current Kelly-Griggs’ President, Penny Johnson. The historical knowledge oozed out of her during our interview and personal tour. Let’s just say that the Dollings quickly became believers in the power of this 1880 Italianate Victorian home.
We know what you’re thinking. Power is a pretty strong word to toss out. But, this first “true” experience of Kelly-Griggs Museum actually helped me forge an even stronger connection with our community. It started the moment I touched the heavy iron gate fashioned from the bars of our old jailhouse. The beauty of the house immediately struck me. Sure, I have driven by this corner at least a hundred times during my lifetime. But, on this particular occasion, I paused to truly “look.” Thanks to the work of a handful of dedicated organizations and passionate museum supporters, the home still stands strong and definitely “owns” the block.
The secrets hiding inside the home officially won me over. Penny showcased countless items from the “movers and shakers” that helped shape Tehama County. From an amazing late 1800s dining set from the Kimball family and a grand sideboard that once stood in the Cone family home to Laura Branford Clark’s elaborate wedding dress complete with sterling silver lace, the collection is downright jaw-dropping. Although I loved learning about the Victorian architecture and perusing the museum’s local Chinese and Native American artifacts, it was the Tuscan Springs display that had me head over heels at first glance. I had no idea that a world-famous resort boasting healing mineral waters once stood just nine miles east of Red Bluff. As Penny shared her extensive knowledge of the location and details about Kelly-Griggs' amazing Tuscan Springs collection, I gave a little more of my heart to good ‘ol Tehama County.
In addition to experiencing this magnificent home’s power and all of its treasures, I also learned that Kelly-Griggs is longing for more attention. What do I mean by this? Let’s just say that the fast-paced lifestyle and online culture has distracted potential visitors, donors, and volunteers. However, all is not lost. WE can help keep this hidden gem in the public eye and going strong for future generations to enjoy. How? Hop in on a tour, attend a museum event, take your class on a field trip, learn more about becoming a volunteer, or slip a donation their way.
Kelly-Griggs offers tours from 1 to 3 pm on most Thursdays and Sundays. We encourage you to give them an hour of your time. No two tours are the same and it truly leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy about Tehama County. You also can attend an event. I had the opportunity to drop in on the Mother’s Day Tea and it was like stepping back in time. Kelly-Griggs also likes to host local authors and appraisal days from time to time. The museum crew is in the process of setting up a Sip and Paint and a second tea for Grandparents' Day in the fall. Finally, the house is always in need of volunteers. They are down to just three tour leaders. If you’re interested in history and you have a little free time, this could be the perfect gig for you.
I think it’s clear that I could go on for days about the Kelly-Griggs Museum. And, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be sharing more tidbits about this local treasure in the near future. Until then, we urge you to pop in and take a peek.
For more information about tours, events, and various volunteer opportunities, contact Kelly-Griggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or Penny Johnson at (530) 736-3044.
Follow Kelly-Griggs on Facebook HERE
Written By: Kelley Dolling
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