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The Shadelands Ranch was established in 1856 in the California Ygnacio valley by Hiram Penniman, an early American settler. Three years later he bought 500 acres of land from the Encarnación Pacheco daughter of Juana Sanchez de Pacheco and then owner of Rancho Arroyo de las Nueces y Bolbones, which was taken over by 500 acres (2.0 square km) of land in California in 1853.

The original Penniman's ranch name was 'Shadelands Farm Fruit Farm,' and Penniman's replacement became the 'Shadelands Fruit Farm' ('Shadelands'), which included a range of nuts and fruits including apples, pears, apricots, grapes, almonds and walnuts as well as prune trees. In January 1897, Hiram Penniman became ill and Mary, the oldest son of Penniman, took over most of the care and supervision of his ranch. The ranch went into difficult times with a decline in crop price, and Mary had to rely on her sister Bessie 's wealthy husband to look after a lot of the financial interests of the ranch.

After Hiram died, Mary became possessor of the ranch and after the death of Mary Bessie. The key management of the ranch was Bessie and her husband Albert Johnson from afar, with Albert's corporate interests primarily in remote Chicago. In 1921, Edmund Moyer was employed by Bessie and monitored by his family on the ranch. In a car crash in 1943, Bessie died and Albert became critically ill not long after. Albert Johnson founded the Gospel Foundation in 1947 to manage the scope of his properties after his death, with an eye to his own mortality. Johnson died of cancer in 1948 and inherited all of his wealth, including Shadelands, from the Gospel Foundations.

Until 1970, when the remaining 6,100 m2 of the property and the ranch house were donated to Walnut Creek, California, the gospel foundation continued to manage Shadelands. It's now owned by the Historic Society of Walnut Creek and has been open to the public as a historical museum since 1972, a Ranch House still packed with much of Penniman 's original furniture.

The Museum is part of the City of Walnut Creek, which operates by the sponsorship and dedicating corps of volunteers. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. From early November until the first Sunday in February each year the museum is closed. The Society organizes public holiday activities and regular maintenance on house every January during the annual hiatus.

This amazing museum is perfect for active kids and is located near the following must-see museums near Walnut Creek, California:

  • Lindsay Wildlife Experience

  • Mount Diablo Summit Museum

  • Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts

  • Chabot Space & Science Center

  • Habitot Children's Museum

  • Lawrence Hall of Science

  • The Gardens at Heather Farm

  • Children's Creativity Museum

All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short drive from our location near Downtown Walnut Creek, California on Locust Street. Stop by for a visit anytime!

At the Museum
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