The PRAHS has preserved Paso Robles history for 36 years 

By Camille DeVaul and The El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society

PASO ROBLES — Known as “California’s Oldest Watering Place,” the world has been drawn to the Paso Robles area for hundreds of years. Between being home to the Salinan tribes and later home to our founders, the Blackburn brothers, so much history rests in our soil. The El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society makes it their mission to keep all this history alive.

PXL 20210616 190910284

In the 36 years of its existence, the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society (PRAHS) has preserved, promoted, and encouraged the knowledge and awareness of local history through an extensive collection of photographs, documents, and newspapers and shares these collections through exhibits, research, and education.

PRAHS, a non-profit organization, was formed in 1985 and held its first meetings at the Plymouth Congregational Church. Some of the society’s founding members are well-known names in the Paso Robles community. Virginia Peterson and Norma Moye founded the society alongside Recording Secretary Sandra Hatch, Corresponding Secretary Bruce Woodworth, and Treasurer William Gerst. Other familiar names served as Board of Directors, Dolly Bader, Al Davis, Margaret Gates, Al Heer, Fraser MacGillivary, John McCarthy, Swift Jewell, and Wally Ohles.

A lot has changed, but a lot remains the same. In 1997, the historic Carnegie Library, located in the Paso Robles City Park, became home to the Historical Society. The library’s main floor serves as a local area history museum, and the lower level of the building contains the Virginia Peterson Research Library and Society office.

3A3AC253 672B 4295 9731 2A372C3C26CE 1 105 c

The membership and support of the PRAHS have grown to include local residents, businesses, people from across the USA and internationally. Volunteers completely staff the Historical Society, and there is no paid staff. Funding is generated through donations, grants, and bequests.

It is through the dedication of volunteers that have made all of this possible. Some volunteers assist by greeting visitors and answering questions about the exhibits, local history, shopping, restaurants, and wineries. Other volunteers work in the Research Library by cataloging, filing and researching, entering computer databases, assisting with financial records, and maintaining membership and volunteer records.

PXL 20210616 190044276

But it’s not all work and no play for the Volunteers and Docents. Field trips are scheduled to other local historical societies and museums, bi-monthly meetings are held to update and inform about displays and exhibits and casual lunch meetings are held to discuss future plans and ideas.

Volunteering for the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society is both fun and interesting. Stop by and talk to the volunteers, and you’ll be ready to sign up.

The Paso History Museum is open five days a week: Thursday through Monday, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

The Research Library hours are: Tuesday and Thursday 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and by appointment.

For more information to contact the library, visit, email, or call (805)238-4996