The Historical Society of Temple City was established in June of 1987 with 161 charter members. The driving force behind this was Florine Thompson, Woman's Club of Temple City's historian. Through her efforts along with Woman's Club members, Shirley Norman, past president of Temple City Unified School District Board and Woman's Club parliamentarian, and Julie Estrada, a reporter for The Temple City Times newspaper, they were successful in advising the city council of plans to form an independent Society. The Society was approved by The City of Temple City as a separate organization. The Society is recognized by the IRS as a 501(C)(3) tax exempt public charity exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. All donations, bequests, devises, transfers or gifts are tax deductible. The Society became incorporated in November 2004.
The object of the Society, as a nonprofit organization, is to promote an interest in the history of Temple City and to encourage the preservation and the protection of historic landmarks in the community. To collect and to preserve material illustrating or demonstrating the history of the area and of the customs and habits of the people who have lived in the area.
All workers are dedicated volunteers. We do not have paid positions. We do not receive assistance from the city as some museums do. We depend on donations, sustaining memberships and we qualify for grants but at present have not been successful in finding a professional grant writer for our type of request. All monies received from whatever source can be used only for operating expenses of the Society and/or expenses directly related to the operation and maintenance of the museum, collection and preservation of historical materials and the upkeep of the property. From 1987 till 1999, items donated to the Society were stored in a building behind Florine Thompson's home and in a rented storage unit. We are still in the process of trying to accession items as no records have been located as to many of the donors. Not until July 1999 was the Society successful in securing a building for a museum through the kindness of the City's Parks and Recreation Department. The museum building was loaned with a 90 day notice to vacate by either party and was located at Live Oak Park in the former Multi-Purpose Building. In the beginning two docents, Caryl Bradley and Zelda Cleveland, worked at the museum on Wednesdays and Sundays. Both became ill in October of 2002 and could no longer work those many hours. Due to the lack of volunteers, the museum continued to be open on Sundays only by rotating board members and the few decent volunteers who came to the rescue.
In April of 2004, Irene Burza, president of The Woman's Club, with her board approval, offered the Woman's Club property to The Historical Society for a permanent home for the museum. The provision was to preserve the building and property, to educate the public on the many contributions to the city and to permit the Woman's Club to continue their use of the building for their events. A committee was formed to investigate if there was enough interest and if the financial responsibility could be realized. April 2005 the Society accepted and the Woman's Club sponsored the first fund raiser "Yesterday's Treasure" sale that took place the end of May 2005. This launched "The Woman's Club Project" and requests went out to the members and the public for donations. The response was well on the way. A life member of the Woman's Club, Margie Calamia Speck, who had made a $5,000.00 donation already, made a $25,000.00 matching fund donation offer and a challenge for matching donations was born. This offer was to be handled strictly between Irene Burza, president of the Woman's Club and Nick Gladis, president of The Historical Society and Mr. and Mrs. Speck. The challenge became effective September 2005 and was met by the end of February 2006.
The response was overwhelming! The Society was well on the way towards a $100,000.00 goal to have back up funds to handle the many additional expenses that would be involved with the preservation of the building and property. This also made the dreams of Florine Thompson, Margie Calamia Speck, Irene Burza and the Historical Society a reality. The funds were a little over $76,000.00 when Irene became III. She wanted the Historical Society to take over the property by June 1,2006. Due to her serious illness, the board, except for one member, voted to go ahead with the change. The proper papers where signed through the lawyer and filed on June 1,2006. Irene Burza passed away on June 6, 2006.
The building needed cleaning, painting and repairing before the museum could be moved to its new home. Vice President, Nick Gladis sent out a request for volunteers and they came; cleaners, painters, handy men and artistic talent. In October 2006 the museum moved to its new home in The Historic Woman's clubhouse. There was a long delay in getting the museum open and some reorganization needs to be accomplished. There are many tasks to be accomplished and we appreciate volunteers who give of their precious time.
The awareness of the city's past promotes pride in our present and future. It also provides an informational resource for students, teachers and others interested in the history of the city and its past residents. It provides a volunteer opportunity for Temple City High School students through the district's student community volunteer services program and an opportunity for adult residents to participate as volunteers in acquisition, preservation and sharing of historical material and information.