Find Fallbrook's past at the Historical Museum
Last updated 3/1/2007 at Noon
Want to find out more about Fallbrook? Look no further than the Fallbrook Historical Society Museum. This museum has a collection of objects that tell stories about the many lives of the residents and former residents of our village.
Collections of military and firefighting items and Fallbrook High School memorabilia can be found in the collection, along with other fascinating pieces. A wedding outfit belonging to Nellie Chase is on display. This brown dress was worn on her wedding day in 1886. A handloom made by Dan Keller, who owned a drugstore in Fallbrook, is a focal piece.
The museum has collections that are not on display yet but will be as soon as the newest addition – a “barn” – is complete.
At the center of the museum is the Geno Somacal Train Exhibit. The miniature houses in this exhibit are finely crafted works of art. Somacal, at age 50, began to build this train exhibit at his home. In this exhibit are small buildings that are replicas of historic Fallbrook buildings such as the Hotel Naples, the Methodist Church and the Fallbrook (Reche) School. The Hotel Naples took Somacal 1,500 hours to complete. Somacal created the miniatures from 1950 through 1971 using mainly historical photos and records. The buildings are constructed of 1/16” mahogany plywood. Many of these buildings, such as the Hotel Naples (1887-1958) and the Santa Fe Railroad Depot (1917-1971), are no longer in existence.
After Somacal’s death, his widow, Babbs Reader Somacal, donated the collection of buildings to the Fallbrook Historical Society to be kept on permanent display. Somacal died in 1991 and the collection was donated to the historical society in 2000.
Next door to the main museum building, but still a part of the museum, is the Pittenger House, built by William Pittenger, a Civil War hero who was presented the Medal of Honor in 1863. Pittenger built the home on 60 acres of land that he purchased for $60 an acre in 1890.
Pittenger was presented the Medal of Honor for penetrating nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and capturing a railroad train at Big Shanty, GA, in an attempt to destroy the bridges and tract between Chattanooga and Atlanta.
The Pittenger Home is decorated with furniture and antiques that were not actually in the home at the time the Pittengers lived there but are mostly from the same time period.
In the basement of the main museum building are two antique Fords: a Model T and a Model A.
A youth docent program is now underway, and as always, adults are also welcome to volunteer. The Fallbrook Historical Society Museum subsists on donations and is run by volunteers.
Historical Society Museum
The Pittenger House
260 Rocky Crest Road
Open Thursdays & Sundays
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.