Mono County Museum  

Bridgeport, CA

 

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History

The Mono County Historical Society was established by Lee Symmonds and incorporated in 1963.  Symmonds was the first curator of the Mono County Museum, the "official" Mono County Historian, and a first rate local watercolor artist who painted many Bridgeport scenes. As a child, Symmonds rode  his horse to a one room schoolhouse in Missouri and later grew up on a ranch in Colorado.  Because of this, he had a great appreciation for the past, a much simpler time, and was instrumental in obtaining the many artifacts now housed in the museum.  Symmonds worked closely with Arthur Webb in the early days of the Society.  Webb became Curator in 1982 when Symmonds died, and was followed by Joe Lent (a native Paiute Indian) in 1987 when Webb died.  During Lent's tenure the Society faced increasing financial challenges when the County in 1986 announced that it had to cut back its support of the museum.  By the fall of 1996 the Historical Society had become so inactive that it almost ceased to exist, but in September of 1999 a new Board of Trustees was formed and curator Lent resigned that same year to become a minister.  The present Board is made up of the following people:

Kent Stoddard: President and Curator

Hank Cole: Vice-President

Nancy Alaniz: Secretary

Ed Oliver: Treasurer

Lynda Pemberton: Member-at-Large

The Mono County Museum is the original Bridgeport Elementary School, built in 1880.  It was situated at the corner of Kingsley and School Streets, where the present school is located.  In March of 1964 the structure was moved to its present location in Bridgeport Park (on the north side of Main Street and west of School Street) to be used as a museum.  In January of 1965, Curator Symmonds announced that the museum was ready to accept artifacts, and by April enough items were in place for an official preview.  The museum was opened for business in June 1965.  In 1986 an addition was completed to house a collection of Paiute Indian baskets loaned to the museum by Ella Cain.  Starting in 1999, the museum was re-organized and updated, a process that spanned several years.

 

Copyright 2016 Mono County Historical Society

Updated on 02/01/2016