Cupertino Historical Society & Museum


Web Resources

A Guide to Researching the History of a House

California History Center

California Pioneers

California Pioneers Film Archive

City of Cupertino

Cupertino Chamber of Commerce

Cupertino Library

Cupertino Scene Newsletter

Fremont Older Open Space Preserve History

Japanese American Museum of San Jose

Moving Days: The Japanese American Experience in the Santa Clara Valley, 1942-2012

Santa Clara County Library

Media Resources


The Cupertino Historical Society has set up a a new festive exhibit that gives residents a window into what Christmas and other holidays were like in Cupertino many decades ago. The “Christmas in Cupertino” exhibit was set up earlier this week at the historical museum in the Quinlan Community Center and includes a Christmas tree, ornaments, garlands and vintage toys, and other festive items.
A description of the Cupertino Historical Society, including its founding and development, current programs/exhibits, and plans for the future. The show also includes a brief description of several people who played significant roles in Cupertino history. This program was aired on KMVT15 Community Media.

Cupertino Historical Sites

The video describes many of the historical sites in the City of Cupertino. This video is an eagle project by Michael Masri, Troop 476. A special thanks go to the Cupertino Historical Society and Troop 476.

Cupertino Winemakers

Cupertino is the heart of Silicon Valley, famous as the birthplace of technology giants. It does, however, have more than computers to offer. The Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society recently celebrated another point of pride: their winemakers!

We had already discovered some fun wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains near Cupertino, including Savannah Chanelle Vineyards, Cooper Garrod Vineyards, House Family Vineyards, and Vidovich Vineyards. When the Cupertino Historical Society invited us to attend their event, Salutè! A Toast to Cupertino Winemakers – Past & Present, we were thrilled!

The Historical Society Museum is part of the Quinlan Community Center, so there was plenty of parking, with lots of open space inside the facility, bathed in sunshine. We arrived to a bustling crowd of Cupertino citizens, happily exploring the event and greeting each other to a background of Italian accordion music. The mood was set within seconds.

Once we checked in with the Historical Society folks, we made our way to the exhibit room and to meet some winemakers. We soon discovered that all of these fine wineries were located along Montebello Road, which was an interesting factoid. A little wisdom to drop during our next tasting tour.

We first met Noël Relyea and William Wood, owners and wine makers at R & W Vineyards. We learned that Noël and William chose wine making as a second career after bio-technology, now producing about 300 cases of wine a year. Their friends and family are instrumental in helping with many of the steps in producing wine, from harvesting to bottling. After tasting the result, we could understand everyone’s willingness to pitch in. A little manual effort for a bottle of this lovely wine? Count me in!

We next visited the table of Naumann Vineyards. Danielle told us that Naumann Vineyards was open only 4-6 times a year, so tasting their wine outside of this type of event required some diligence! They produce a bit more wine than R & W Vineyards, at about 500 cases a year. A few sips of their wine made us promise ourselves to bookmark their web site to learn about their next tasting.

Vidovich Vineyards was at the next table. We love their Cabernet Sauvignon, and they were pouring some. Color us happy! We renewed our acquaintance with two of the Vidovich brothers and winery manager Jessica as we sipped their delicious wine. It was great to see them again.

Ridge Vineyards was the first winery in Cupertino. They did not participate with a pouring table but did have an artistic display in the museum. The senior-most winery in the area, Ridge Vineyards dates back to 1885, when 180 acres at the top of the Monte Bello Ridge was purchased by Osea Perrone for a vineyard. As we spoke with the other wine makers, they each described their location relative to the original: Ridge Vineyards.

As a fun way to raise money for the Historical Society, home winemaker and Chamber board member John Zirelli demonstrated wine bottle corking on a single-bottle device. Attendees literally formed a line to donate to this good cause and take home a bottle of John’s lovely wine as a gift. As veteran of quite a few “bottle your own” events, we were very familiar with his gadget.

After a welcome from Cupertino’s Mayor and an introduction of new Chamber of Commerce members, the attendees networked, munched on some snacks and helped ensure that the wineries didn’t have any pesky partially emptied bottles left over.

Cupertino Museum Displays Local History

Divya Nelakonda, News Editor
The Epic Newspaper
Lynbrook High School
NOVEMBER 2, 2017

On Sept. 9, 1850, California became the 31st state to enter the union. To honor this occasion, the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum opened the “Eureka! Native Americans, Explorers and Innovators” on Sept. 9 in the Quinlan Community Center. The city was preparing for the Cupertino’s fall festival in honor of the anniversary of California’s admission to the United States of America when they approached the society to create an exhibit surrounding the theme of admission.

“We thought about it, and although we didn’t have much time, we were able to put the exhibit together,” said local Historian Gail Fretwell-Hugger. “It is about four to five displays in the museum that depict key events and settlers in Cupertino and the local surrounding area.”

The museum’s path follows a counterclockwise chronological layout beginning with the Native Americans who first inhabited the land, showcasing rugs and baskets that are representative of the Ohlone and Costanoan tribes. The exhibit also has a stone grinding bowl the Native Americans used to grind acorns and a frame containing many types of Ohlone arrowheads. Period clothing, saddles, spurs and tools from the Gold Rush are also on display. Information panels inform viewers about the history of California and the De Anza expedition under Mexican and Spanish rule. The museum has acquired costumes and saddles from the 1976 bicentennial reenactment of the De Anza exhibition.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a stuffed bear, provided by the owners of the Barn Owl gift shop in Saratoga, alluding to the Grizzly bear on the California state flag. The bear also pays tribute to the Bear Flag Revolt, a rebellion by settlers in the Sacramento Valley for independence, and the many black and brown bears that had once lived in the area.

History San Jose, an organization that uses events, partnerships and programs to preserve the cultural heritage of San Jose and Santa Clara Valley, has also supplied the exhibit with bear traps, bear fur gloves and bear skin rugs for visitors to view and informational panels about the Spanish bear and bull fights.

Captain Elisha Stephens, the first man to bring wagons over the Sierra Truckee Pass is one of the featured figures in the exhibit. He lived around present-day McClellan Ranch and Blackberry Farm, and was the first to settle west of Santa Clara Valley. He is also the namesake of Stevens Creek. Stephens’ favorite dish was rattlesnake, so the museum has included a recipe on how to prepare rattlesnake accompanied with a stuffed rattlesnake in a glass case.

In honor of the opening of the exhibit, the museum coordinator organized a mixer for the Chamber of Commerce; around 60 to 70 people were attended. At the mixer, Haleen Davis from the rotary club spoke about the sister city program; Darcy Paul, who used to be a board member of the Cupertino Historical Society, spoke about the importance of the museum; Donna Austin, president of the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum, spoke about the new exhibit. The mixer also included a raffle for a blanket decorated with Cupertino artifacts.

“The Chamber of Commerce mixers are an opportunity for the business community to come together,” said Hugger. “It’s a nice opportunity to interact and socialize, have something to eat and drink.”

The hallways outside of the exhibit feature student entries from a recent art contest. Participants illustrated famous people, places and events pertaining to the history of California.

Hugger encourages people in the community to come out to the museum and learn about their local history.

“No matter where a person is from, it is a good idea for them to know their local history to better understand the community, to get a feeling for what came before, who settled the area, what kind of people were originally there,” said Hugger. “It really broadens a person’s horizons and people feel more like a part of the community.”

Students who are interested in learning about Cupertino’s local history are urged to sign up as museum volunteers.

“I don’t think we really know enough about local history,” said senior Peggy Wang. “Some schools have museums about their local history, and I’ve seen colleges have museums about their local history as well. Going to our Cupertino museum could help students engage in their local history.”

Historical Society Opens Its 'Christmas In Cupertino' Exhibit

PUBLISHED: December 2, 2016 at 7:00 am | UPDATED: December 2, 2016 at 7:27 am

The Cupertino Historical Society has set up a a new festive exhibit that gives residents a window into what Christmas and other holidays were like in Cupertino many decades ago.

The “Christmas in Cupertino” exhibit was set up earlier this week at the historical museum in the Quinlan Community Center and includes a Christmas tree, ornaments, garlands and vintage toys, and other festive items. “Christmas has become a national holiday celebrated in so many ways by so many cultures,” says Donna Austin, president of the Cupertino Historical Society. “The museum and society are just trying to share some of the symbols that remind us of why we have this holiday and why it is special to so many.” The display highlights multiple holiday celebrations. Read more at the link (unfortunately behind a paywall)

A Brief History of Apple

Sponsored by the Cupertino Historical Society, this 20-minute video summaries the more-than-four-decade history of Apple Inc. It includes highlights of Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech and his visits to the Cupertino City Council, as well as thoroughly researched information, presented by Crystal Tai, a Stanford alum who once worked as a news reporter for the Cupertino Courier. Special thanks to the Cupertino City Channel.

Happy Big SIX-OH, Cupertino!

This video features a 60-line poem, written and read by Crystal Tai, dedicated to the Cupertino Historical Society & Museum as well as residents of Cupertino. Cupertino was incorporated as a city on Oct 10, 1955.

Happy birthday, Cupertino!
The candles on your cake are waiting for you to blow.
You've come a long, long way
Since six decades ago.

Born into the Valley of Heart's Delight,
You were nurtured in a family orchard day and night
As the 13th child of Santa Clara County.
Your big family owned the world's largest fruit production site.

Named after the nearby creek that was later renamed Stevens,
You can trace your ancestry back to an Italian saint's magnificence,
Which came in 1776 with Father Pedro Font and Juan Bautista de Anza,
Leaving you a Mediterranean inheritance.

Your Mediterranean climate attracted Mediterranean settlers
And they made education a top priority for their youngsters
By creating a tradition of offering high salaries
To draw excellent teachers.

Innovative teaching methods grew in your childhood
While asters, chrysanthemums and pompons colored your neighborhood.
The colorful crops generated millions of dollars
For your family's livelihood.

In your formative years,
Vallco Park and De Anza College emerged to cheers.
They broadened your horizons,
Showing you different options of careers.

You left your family's fruit and flower business after turning 20
For a different type of fruit that grows with high technology.
It's the shiny Apple from a friend who went to your high school,
A more than amazing present you received graciously.

Growing your Apple requires highly skilled labor,
Particularly those fluent in the language of the computer.
You welcome them from all over the world,
Letting their customs enrich your culture.

Lunar New Year's luncheon brings your February an upswing;
Persian New Year and the Cherry Blossom Festival glorify your spring.
September tastes better with moon cakes for dessert.
Diwali lights make your October dazzling.

Now IC stands for not only the integrated circuit that holds electronic pieces,
But Indians and Chinese.
Your shifted landscape has seen demographic transformation,
Which you embrace with ease.

When your average home price exceeds one million mark
And your top-rated schools are worthy of remark,
You remain down to earth,
As approachable as your Memorial Park.

You never forget your agricultural heritage
While working on the cutting edge.
Your council pursues green legislation;
Your library displays environmental knowledge.

In an enviable environment today,
We are celebrating your 60th birthday.
Your old friend Steve Jobs would be also 60 right now
If pancreatic cancer hadn't taken him away.

Mr. Jobs is gone
While iPhones and iPads keep getting redrawn.
Human beings will inevitably perish,
But you will go on.

Happy birthday, Cupertino!
The candles on your cake are waiting for you to blow.
May you thrive on change as always!
May you forever grow and glow!

An Early Celebration Of Cupertino's 60th Birthday

Crystal Tai in a denim Mandarin dress invented by herself (probably the first person thinking of using denim to make Mandarin dresses), custom tailored by, an online clothing vendor.

By CRYSTAL TAI (Star Patcher)
July 21, 2015

With Cupertino’s 60th anniversary approaching, the Cupertino Historical Society & Museum held a Western themed fundraiser.

The Cupertino Historical Society and Museum (CHSM) holds a fundraising barbecue every summer, but it feels more special this summer, because the 60th anniversary of Cupertino’s incorporation is only a little more than three months away.

On Oct 10,1955, Cupertino officially became Santa Clara County’s 13th city.

Cupertino’s history is much longer than 60 years, however. It goes way back to the 1776 expedition led by the Spanish explorer, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza. His diarist and cartographer Pedro Font named the creek they saw in today’s Santa Clara County after Saint Joseph of Cupertino. Although the creek was later renamed Stevens, John T. Doyle, a San Francisco lawyer and historian, picked up the name Cupertino for his winery on McClellan Road.

In 1904, Cupertino replaced “ West Side” as the name for the Crossroads of Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road (now De Anza Boulevard) and Stevens Creek Road as well as the area around the post office, thanks to the the Home Union Store called the Cupertino Store on the northeast corner of the Crossroads.

Cupertino’s economy used to be based on fruit agriculture. The incorporation of the city didn’t change it, but VALLCO did. When VALLCO was established in the early 1960s, it was a business and industrial park, which first brought the electronics industry to Cupertino more than a decade before Apple came into the picture in 1976. It was also in 1976 when VALLCO was transformed into a shopping center.

Now with Sand Hill Property Company as its new owner, VALLCO is going through another transformation. Former Cupertino Mayor Sandra James works as the public affairs manager of the project. She gave a brief speech on VALLCO at the CHSM fundraiser and stressed the importance of preserving Cupertino’s history.

“A city that doesn’t pay attention to its past will have no future,” James said.

Another notable speaker at the CHS&M event was Jason Lundgaard, Apple’s manager of state and local government affairs. He said Apple deeply cherishes its 39-year relationship with Cupertino and looks forward to an even greater future together.

The June 28 event marked the end of Donna Austin’s three-year term as president of the CHSM. Helene Davis will be the next president, starting July 1.

Titled “A Sip of History,” the fundraiser took place at Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards. Each attendee was given a complimentary drink ticket. While conversing over a glass of wine, Catherine Alexander shared her family stories as part of Cupertino’s history.

According to Alexander, her grandparents came from Slovenia and Dubrovnik. Her grandfather worked in a lumber mill. He once delivered lumber and other building materials to the home of rifle heiress Sarah Winchester in order to remodel her mansion, which later became the world famous Winchester Mystery House.

Alexander commented positively on the changes that have happened in Cupertino since her grandfather’s time. She said she particularly enjoys the variety of cultures brought by Apple employees from all over the world. She called them “cream of the cream,” and said they are making Cupertino more enlightening than ever.

Even so, Alexander said the past is worth remembering. The retired librarian has established a website that collects and presents eclectic resources on the history of Silicon Valley, going along with the mission of the CHSM.

For the sake of nostalgia, the CHSM fundraiser was a Western theme party with a country music band. Most attendees were wearing cowboy hats and denim clothes.

The Cutest Little Museum' Gains A Volunteer

The name, Stevens Creek, is all over Cupertino and the area. Stevens Creek Boulevard, Stevens Creek Trail. Stevens Creek Dam. Not only is the former soldier, blacksmith, fur trapper and guide’s name misspelled all over West Valley, but he was only the Valley for less than 20 years. According to the Cupertino Historical Society, he homesteaded 160 acres on the eastern bank of the Arroyo de San Giuseppe do Copertino and bought 150 acres more from the Peralta family’s Rancho San Antonio. His 315-acre farm was called Blackberry Farm. Sound familiar? ….

Cupertino History Museum Celebrates City's Multiculturalism with an International Night

It was an educational and entertaining evening at Quinlan Community Center Saturday. The Cupertino Historical Society and Museum presented lectures and multicultural shows to illuminate Cupertino’s past, and inspire its future.

The Lost Railroad Tunnels Of The Santa Cruz Mountains

South Pacific Coast Railroad train stopped for a photograph along Coon Gulch in San Lorenzo Gorge, c. 1880s. [Public domain, image from]

On March 26, 2022, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming local historian Brian Liddicoat, as he presented his research on the "Lost Railroad Tunnels of the Santa Cruz Mountains" on Zoom as part of the Cupertino Historical Society + Museum's free educational Speaker Series events. We learned about the history of the railroad, the Chinese Immigrants who build the tunnels, and the mystery surrounding the railroad. The mission of the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum is to preserve and share Cupertino’s past, strengthen our sense of community, and make Cupertino history available for all.

Additional Online Resources


NativeWeb is a comprehensive site for Native American studies whose purpose is to disseminate information from and about indigenous nations, peoples, and organizations. Go to the “History” database under Resources for chronologically organized collections of American Indian resources. NativeWiki, a new NativeWeb project, allows users to contribute information on Indigenous peoples around the world.

First Nations Histories

Provides a geographic overview of First Nation (Indian) histories as well as a location list of native tribes in the United States and Canada. Has a search function as well.

Index of Native American Resources on the Web

The Index is a large gateway to many Native American resources in various categories, such as History, Government, Culture, Education, Bibliographies, and more. The site is organized by geographic regions and “to make it useful to the Native American community and the education community.” There is a useful search engine and the webmaster blogs regularly with news about the site.

History Matters

A production of the Center for New Media and History, History Matters is a fantastic online resource for history teachers and students. Contains lesson plans, syllabi, links, and exhibits.

The Library of Congress

This superb site for American history contains primary and secondary documents, exhibits, map collections, photographs, sound recordings and motion pictures.

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

This site includes: a U.S. history e-textbook; over 400 annotated documents, primary sources on slavery, Mexican American and Native American history; U.S. political and social history; classroom handouts, chronologies, and glossaries. One very unique feature, the site’s Ask the Hyper Historian, allows readers to pose questions to professional historians.

The West (PBS)

This Web site is a supplement to Ken Burn’s documentary. Includes a timeline, glossary, biographies, a photo gallery, maps, documents, and much more.

California As I Saw It

This research collection from the Library of Congress centers on eyewitness accounts of life in California between the Gold Rush and the turn of the twentieth century. Its foundation consists of texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting this formative period.

The Gold Rush

This PBS film companion website includes various classroom resources, a map, a timeline, and “fun facts” for kids. Special features include stories from native inhabitants, an online poll on routes to the West Coast, and an online role-playing game on striking it rich. Enjoyable site for younger students.

Chinese and California: 1850 – 1925

This research collection from the Library of Congress includes 8,000 images and pages of varied primary source materials. It focuses on experiences of Chinese immigrants in California along with a section on westward expansion. This link takes you directly to the “Chinese and Westward Expansion” section.