By September 6, 2019 0 Comments Read More →

BigView – Vintage for the Future

The BigView
Vintage for the Future

History and Civic Pride 101
History is for the young? Why, you say? It’s all part of civic pride and you don’t have to be old or retired appreciate the history of where you live or where you go. In fact, the earlier people learn about their city, the more pride we will have. Civic pride is based on history and you know when you go to places that have a lot of history, the pride of how much their citizens love their city really shows. The people of New Orleans know their history. Green Bay loves their legendary football team. Boston is Boston strong and the list goes on and on. Modesto needs to be in Modesto USA, A Classic American City.

We have a ton of cool resources in our community to help you understand, know and learn about your history. The McHenry Museum and the McHenry mansion are places that are very special on our history and were built when Ralston modestly declined to have this city named after him. Through the late 1800s as Modesto developed as a city, we were always been ahead of the curve and innovating. What was true then is still true today; Water, Wealth, Contentment & Health still stands. With our irrigation systems and early advances in electricity and aviation Modesto was quite the happening place in the Victorian age and has the early 20th century developed. Early10th St. was lined with theaters and hotels and performing arts were an important part of our culture and still shine today. Agriculture started driving our region. Modesto was an original fork to farm community and still is today as our products feed most of the world and Gallo, the world’s largest winery, leads the industry as it has since the end of Prohibition.

Our history of architecture is no different. Modesto lead the way back in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the wealth of our agribusiness attracted leading architects and designers. During the 30s and 40s, the central valley ranch style home became it’s own style and we even attracted cool European designs. Then in the 50s and 60s became a hotbed of mid-century modern design many of which still exist today. In fact, these styles are leading the way of new design and many of our original dwellings still stand. You can learn more about this during Modesto Architecture and Design Week, aka MADWeek, September 21-28.

We have these really cool collations of cultures from the Victorian to the Bauhaus age to the mid century modern when suburban innovation was changing our culture, the highways and the drive-ins gave way to the cruising eras of American Graffiti where the tailfins and the futuristic modern designs paved the way for a baby boom generation. Like many cities around the world we need to celebrate these amazing cool cultures.

Our history intersects at many places. Modesto’s agriculture riches led to the creation of rockabilly music in the 30s and 40s with the migration of the “Okies” and the central valley hillbilly boogie music scene created by the Maddox Brothers and Rose would later lead to buck Owens and Merle Haggard all of whom worked and lived in around Modesto, while our radio station KTRB broadcast this hillbilly boogie Rockabilly music across the world, even influencing a young Elvis Presley. At the same time we had the innovative design with Bauhaus architecture with the Hall of Records in Downtown Modesto.

So the cultural aspects have been there and now we need to make sure that this current generation and especially our next generation have the knowledge that will teach people to be Modesto proud. It is more important than ever that our local history reaches these next generations so we can build on the good things that our city represents. From the birthplace of Rock and Roll via Rockabilly, the innovation of the wine industry from Gallo, the innovation of the sport of mountain climbing by Royal Robbins, the design and architecture of our dwellings and the celebration of our classic culture by a new filmmaker George Lucas, there is so much about our history that is exciting and these stories need to be shared.

So this is where we need you!
We need more history buffs. We need more docents to share our history with visitors. The McHenry Mansion is not just a static place of old memories, it is an important and living space where we showcase what makes Modesto what it is. Those successful Victorian times laid the way for our future innovations. The arts of the 20s and 30s paved the way for our current Modesto native talent on the big and little screens and the architecture and design is something that is cool again, all over the world and of course, without American Graffiti, there would have been no Star Wars. Shall we go on?

The McHenry Mansion and the McHenry Museum need our next generation to visit, to learn and to get involved and share our stories. Steampunk is hot all over the world and is a big part of the Cosplay and comic world and that comes from the Victorian era, represented in Modesto by the McHenry Mansion, and the gilded age and the dapper days reflected a new and exciting energy in both Modesto and across the USA. Dapper Days is one of the most popular theme days at Disneyland, lead by this and the next generation. New bars in Modesto like LoFi and Blades & Bottles bring those retro Art Deco and industrial designs of the early century like the original State Theatre. Ralston’s Goat is named after the founder of Modesto. Tiki and tropical themes are on the rebound, propelled by the desire for escapism and the coolness of the retro lounge vibe and surf, exoctica and Rockabilly music. There is a reason why every new cool bar has a nod to history and in many cases, look like an old turn of the century factory or speakeasy. History is cool and today’s people want to know where things come from, how they are made, where their food is grown, and the origins of their craft cocktails and how great the taste of a Hemmingway Daiquiri, Manhattan, Old Fashioned or original 1944 MaiTai can be.

There is a craftsmanship of our history that will go a long way in creating a real exciting future, based on the real story that is our Modesto USA. Authenticity is the key to a successful brand or city and Modesto is loaded with it. Let’s make this fun and excite the people around us and those who visit.
#vintagefuture #modestousa #gloriousmodesto

Please take time to get involved in preserving and teaching our history.
McHenry Mansion –
McHenry Museum –
Modesto Architecture Project –
MADWeek –
Modesto Music History
Modesto Radio History
Modesto Historic Cruise Route
Historic Modesto –

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.