The Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum historic building, considered to be one of the oldest “stick built” buildings in Lake County, was moved from its prior location on Highway 29 in 2007. After the move, Lake County’s Public Service Department took on the task of installing the building on the site, bringing in utilities, restoring the inside and constructing the entrance, driveway, and parking area. Since then much progress has been made in transforming the property into the vision under which the original project was conceived. It is time to recap the progress made and show special appreciation to those individuals or businesses whose contributions have helped us grow into one of the most important educational and historical centers in Lake County.
Much research, creativity and effort was required to restore the main house into the showcase it has become today, from wallpaper selections to construction of the beautiful wrap-around porch. What resulted is a beautiful museum with ever-changing displays for the public to enjoy. The house has been used for a variety of fund-raising events such as a Farm-to-Table Dinner in 2012, the annual June Picnic on the Porch in 2013 and 2014 (with a repeat planned for this year) and a Whiskey In America tasting in 2014.
The annual Art and Science Camp, sponsored by the Children’s Museum of Art and Science, has been co-hosted by the Stage Stop and the Taylor Observatory in Kelseyville for the last three years. The living history presentations by Stage Stop docents are always a hit with the fourth through sixth grade students. The Camp returns for a fourth year in May.
Excitement really grew as the first barn construction got under way. The completed structure affords a refuge for our stage coach, various wagons, and other equipment needing protection from the elements. Gracing the barn is our Carpenter’s Star quilt block, donated anonymously through the Lake County Quilt Trail Project. The block was temporarily mounted on the wrap-around-porch, but it now has a permanent home on the barn. The carpenter theme highlights the many hours of manual labor volunteers have donated to make this first barn possible.
The barn has also become a popular event venue. The Stage Stop partners with the Northern California Old Time Fiddlers Association on the first Sunday of each month for Fiddlers’ Jam Sessions. Lake County has a bounty of talented musicians and the barn has proven to be the perfect venue to celebrate these local musicians and the American music heritage from the Ely Stage Stop Victorian Era. Our community has passionately embraced this cultural opportunity.
On the fourth Saturday of each month local historians come to the main house from noon to 2 p.m. to visit with guests and answer questions regarding different aspects of Lake County history. As these visits are recorded, the stories of Lake County’s history are being preserved.
Sturdy picnic tables afford picnicking on the grounds in fair weather. An historic1890‘s cable car and “Wiley” signal light reside at the Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum for the public’s enjoyment. When you drive by 9921 State Hwy 281 (better known as Soda Bay Road) you will know exactly where to find the Ely Stage Stop & Country Museum. The long awaited signage was erected in May of 2014. Bearing the striking Ely logo, the sign greets visitors and lures passers-by regardless of which direction they are traveling.
The current project being undertaken is the all-volunteer building of a working blacksmith shop which will serve as another interpretive and living history exhibit. Phase one of that complex is shaping up now next to the first barn.
All of this progress could not have been made without the support of so many local people and businesses through donations of money, materials, time or hard work. The Lake County Historical Society wishes to extend special appreciation to the following:
Jim Adams, Eric Andre, Jim Bengard, Rob Brown, Kelly Cox, Randy Craig and Erica Lundquist,
Steve Devoto, John Everett, Charlotte Griswold, Carson Holdenried, Marilyn and Myron Holdenried, Gene Kirkendall, Richard Kuehn, Barbra and William Lane, Pat and Ven Marshall, Tony Oliviera, Elizabeth Paddock, Jerry Raub, Alex Reid, the Seeley Family, Josephine and Gerry Shaul, Jr., Wilda Shock, Sam Slayden, Eric Stephensen, Sid Stokes, Justine Stottsberry, Beverly and Dave Thomas, Sharron and Brock Zoller
Braito’s Marina, Clear Lake Lava Rock, Clear Lake Redi-Mix, Clear Lake Trowel & Trellis, County of Lake, Foods, Etc., Kelly Moore Paints in Marin, Kelseyville Lumber, Kelseyville Scrap Metal, Konocti Conservation Camp CC#27, Lake County Chamber of Commerce, Lake County News, Lake County Quilt Trail Project, Lake County Record-Bee, Mt. Konocti Growers, Plaza Paints, RAH Outdoor Signs, Ray’s Food Place, Red & White Store, Rent-a-Center, Riviera Foods, Safeway in Clearlake, T & T Storage, Tri County Scrap Metals LLC, UCC Rental
Thanks also to the many anonymous and other unnamed donors who have contributed to this ongoing project to preserve Lake County history. We could not have accomplished so much without all of you.