There are five museums and a historic reference library that recreate the history of the Village of Arroyo Grande with artifacts that date back to the early days of local settlers.
Heritage House is located at 126 S. Mason Street. The building is now being used as a Museum by the South County Historical Society. The house was built in the late 1800’s and has had multiple owners and renovations since then. The city of Arroyo Grande bought the house December 5, 1976, and used the house as a daycare center and home for their Recreation Department. The Society acquired the home in June of 1997 and has done major restoration work to make it a mini museum and visitor center. The restoration work was done by volunteers from the society, community, and local businesses. The Museum Hours are Saturday, Noon to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
The Santa Manuela Schoolhouse is one of the few remaining one-room schools in the county. The South County Historical Society owns and maintains the Santa Manuela Schoolhouse that was built in 1901. In 1999, with cooperation from the Village Improvement Association and the City of Arroyo Grande, the school was moved to Short Street adjacent to the swinging bridge. This building is completely restored to its original use. The Santa Manuela Schoolhouse is open and free to the public and for special tours from the Society from Noon to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays.
I.O.O.F. Hall, or as it was known as in the past “International Order of Odd Fellows”, is currently owned and operated by the South County Historical Society. The Hall used to be a meeting place for the Order. The Hall was built in 1902 on land that was donated by Mrs. Elston, and was later acquired by the South County Historical Society in 1985. The building took six months to complete at the cost of $5,500. A local contractor, Ben Stuart did the stone work with native sandstone which came from a quarry just south of Arroyo Grande. In 1991 the Hall was placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Currently the Society is raising money to have this historical building restored, with the first step being Earthquake retrofitting. The Hall is currently open Fridays and Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Barn Museum is located next to the Santa Manuela Schoolhouse in and directly behind the Heritage House in Heritage Square. The Barn is the South County Historical Society’s Museum Annex which houses a variety of antique vehicles and agricultural artifacts from the South County area. The Barn is operated by the South County Historical Society and is open Saturday, Noon to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. free of charge.
Paulding History House is the home that belonged to the Paulding Family of Arroyo Grande for many years. The first resident Medical Doctor in Arroyo Grande was Dr. Edwin Paulding. Dr. Paulding and his wife bought the home in 1891, and in 1892 their daughter Ruth was born. Ruth became a teacher and taught for many years in Arroyo Grande. She passed away in the home at the age of 93 in 1985. The Paulding Middle School across the street from the house is named after her. She left the house and its contents to the San Luis Obispo Historical Society and in 1998 the property was passed on to the South County Historical Society. Dr. Paulding was also a talented wood worker and spent many hours working on carvings that can be seen in the house along with other artifacts and among them is the only authentic Chumash Indian basket in the County. Guides are available to answer your questions at the Paulding House during its hours of operation which are available by Appointment (805-473-3231) or on the 1st Saturday of the month from Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Ruby’s House, or also known as The Patricia Loomis History Library and Research Center, offers teachers, students, journalists and researchers a wealth of materials on California history with an emphasis on South San Luis Obispo County. Ruby’s House was constructed in the late 1800’s and through the years has been restored to its original beauty. The Library and Resource Center is available to students and community members for research projects, including the production of community history exhibits and historical reenactments. The Library and Resource Center was made possible through the generous donations of two retired women journalists, Patricia Loomis and Jean Hubbard. Several hundred books, pamphlets, photos, and scrapbooks were donated to the Society’s new library by Jean. Ruby’s House now included a catering kitchen and Bridal Room which can be rented for weddings. Ruby’s House is operated by the South County Historical Society and is open weekdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.