Burlingame Historical Society
P.O. Box 144, Burlingame CA 94011-0144
Phone (650) 340-9660


(This web page is not endorsed by the Burlingame Historical Society)


The Burlingame Historical Society publishes a newsletter - The Record - for its membership. Since we recently became a member we are now receiving the newsletter and will report on news items and issues that would be of interest to the BHS Class of 1955.

In the November 2002 edition of The Record the Society describes its new website with an inaugural date of November 15. The website advances the Society, its programs and archives. According to the write-up "You'll also be able to share your own tale of Burlingame right online in an area called 'Memories of Burlingame'. Be sure to check it out. There's a Burlingame tale waiting to be told in every one of you!" Web address is www.burlingamehistorical.org

The May 2003 edition of The Record posts a statement of Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His comments are reprinted courtesy of the Burlingame Historical Society.

"Every community has a spirit of place that identifies it as special and unique. It map be a building or a monument or a street, a public square or a stretch of lakeshore or a view of distant mountains. It sets the community apart from every other. It attracts tourists, contributes to the area's stability and livability, and gives residents a sense of connection with their shared heritage.

Sadly, despite its importance in the social, cultural and economic life of the community, the spirit of place is easily destroyed. Older neighborhoods, rich in texture and character, start to decline. Familiar landmarks are allowed, to deteriorate or are replaced by new buildings that fail to respect their historic setting. Scenic vistas are spoiled by insensitive development, and precious open space is devoured by sprawl. Uniqueness fades into anonymity. Every place starts looking like `Anyplace', and eventually they all look like `Noplace'.

The theme of Preservation Week 2003, `Cities, Suburbs, and Countryside', calls on us to do all we can to recognize, save and enhance the irreplaceable features that give each community its distinctive character.

Organizing tours and special events that spotlight local treasures, fostering revitalization in commercial and residential neighborhoods, conserving open space, providing tax credits and other incentives for the rehabilitation of historic buildings, launching initiatives to manage sprawl and promote smart growth - all of these are effective tools for preserving the spirit of place.

Make Preservation Week 2003 an occasion for celebrating what's special about your community. Preserve the spirit of place - and pass it on as our gift to future generations."

To which Burlingame Historical Society President Russ Cohen adds,

Although Burlingame doesn't have anything planned for Preservation Week, make this the week to take a walk in your neighborhood and wonder at its details. Stroll along the bayfront trail. Notice the different architectural styles of Burlingame Avenue or Broadway. Drive down Carlos Avenue and admire the storybook houses or the cluster of tudors along Willborough Place. Take a moment to read a plaque placed upon a wall on the fire station or on the post office or in Washington Park. Pause to marvel at children's art that has been placed all around town. Gaze at some of our city's 100 pear old trees on El Camino Real or California Drive, Eastern Burlingame Avenue and Easton. Stop. Look. Appreciate all that is Burlingame.

THE RECORD - February 2004, Number 101
Message From The President

Recently, I was doing some "New Year's" cleaning. I came across a file called "Other Cities". In this file I have kept clippings, mailings, brochures, postcards and other items about what various other towns outside of Burlingame are doing to celebrate their history.

For example, Cambria is restoring a small cottage to serve as a museum and meeting place. Millbrae is in the process of expanding their Historical Society cottage into a pavilion. I came across several news articles announcing the opening of The Los Altos Historical Museum. The City of Colma has been working on a plan to have a civic center with a wing set aside for the historical society. Half Moon Bay restored the Johnston House a few years back. In December of 2002 Edgewood Park, right here in San Mateo County approved plans for an interpretive center. There are far too many clippings in my file that explain what others are doing to preserve and recognize the past. Naturally this got me thinking again of The Burlingame Historical Society's efforts to find a permanent place to display our vast collection.

We are indeed grateful to the City of Burlingame to be able to store our vast collection of Burlingame and Hillsborough artifacts, documents, photographs, manuscripts, and more in the Carriage House in Washington Park. Yet we desperately want to share what we have been preserving for the past 29 years. We field hundreds of calls each year requesting research help about Burlingame and Hillsborough, and would love to be able to tell them to "drop on by and see our exhibit". In addition, we are simply running out of storage space. More and more we are finding that our shelves and files are bursting at the seams.

Where would The Burlingame Museum be? Who would pay for its development? Well, these are questions that at times seem overwhelming, but like the old saying goes, "where there's a will, there's a way." I believe there will be a Burlingame Museum someday, but I am asking you to believe with me and I am asking you to get involved so that we can, together, make it a reality sooner rather than later.
What do I mean by involvement exactly? Let's begin by talking to our neighbors, friends and city leaders about how much we would like to see a center where we can not only learn about Burlingame's past, but we can add to its lore. After all, we all have a tale or two to add to the archives. Secondly, think about where your charitable dollars go. This is often a difficult decision with so many worthy causes to choose from. Charity begins at home, so let's start with Burlingame. Thirdly, think about how to keep Burlingame's legacy and your own alive by giving a donation through your will or trust.

Our attention has been diverted by the daily operation of our Historical Society with its exhibits, public appearances, educational programs, classes and research assistance. We as The Historical Society and we as members of the community must begin today. I can't wait for a news article that says, "Burlingame opens new History Museum." I will be the first to clip it out and file it away in a new file titled "Our City"….
Russ Cohen, President
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THE RECORD - February 2004

Whether we like it or not, the remaining Eucalyptus trees on El Camino Real are slowly coming to the end of their life cycles. Planted in the late 19th century to protect the elm trees planted by McLaren, the large gums present safety and liability issues that both Caltrans and the City of Burlingame are concerned with.
Through the concerted effort of the Burlingame Historical Society and Randy Schwarz (Parks and Rec. Dept) a meeting took place with Caltrans officials in November. The sole purpose was to express Burlingame's continued desire to have El Camino Real remain tree-lined, and to discuss suitable alternatives to those eucalyptus trees that will be inevitably removed in the future.

After discussion and sharing of historical information, all participants came to the conclusion that certain varieties of disease resistant elms would make the most appropriate, historical replacements. The proposal has since been reviewed and recently approved by the State Historic Preservation Officer, who reaffirmed the historical significance of the remaining trees and the plan to replace them with elms.

This wonderful news reconfirms the historic importance of the Burlingame trees on El Camino and will be the road map for dealing with gum removals in the future. In the decades to come, we can look forward to one day experiencing the typical elm canopy that once adorned our Highway. The Historical Society is proud to have played an important role in this endeavor….

THE RECORD - May 2004, Number 102

The Burlingame Historical Society is beginning the early planning phase of our city's 100th anniversary celebration in 2008. We are seeking individuals interested in joining this exciting Centennial Committee...Please contact us at the archives at (650) 340-9960 if this interests you.

THE RECORD - May 2004
Message from the President

Over the past few weeks I have participated in several events, although unrelated, seem to have a common theme.

The first of these events was a visit I made to the Colma Historical Society's new museum facility. As you know, many of Colma's residents are not of the living. It was an interesting visit, as I learned a great deal about how they acquired a facility to house their archives and receive visitors. I am envious of their museum. They have an archive system that is state of the art as well as plenty of display space and meeting space. Needless to say, while I was there I heard a few anecdotal " tales from the crypt."

Next, I chatted with Burlingame resident, Kent Gaisford. He told me that he didn't grow up in the typical Burlingame home. Instead he grew up in the Crosby-N. Gray Funeral Home. Soon after talking with him, I called Jack Jensen, manager of Crosby-N. Gray and suggested we hold our next quarterly meeting there and talk about it's history as well as have Kent tell some of his tales. He agreed.

Crosby-N. Gray is one of Burlingame's oldest family-owned businesses. The meeting will be on Sunday, May 16 from 2 pm until 4 pm and it will be held at Crosby-N. Gray at 2 Park Road. We'll hear stories of some of the famous folks who have "passed" through the doors and Kent will share some of his experiences as well. When was the last time you visited a mortuary under good circumstances? Now is your chance. I hope to see you there.

These events got me thinking of my own mortality. For example, who would benefit from my assets? My family, of course. But what about my favorite causes and charities? I would like to leave something to the Burlingame Historical Society: I hope some of you feel the same. We are always accepting artifacts, documents and photographs about Burlingame, but today I would like to encourage you to give some thought to creating your own legacy.

Plan your estate to include The Burlingame Historical Society. There are many ways to do it, from endowment funds to charitable trusts to bequests. Some are one-time gifts and others give in perpetuity. Often, there are great tax benefits from this type of philanthropy. It seems like a way to not only benefit your family but the community as well. Talk to your estate planning professional about it. I plan to.
After all, it could be the best way to build a Burlingame Museum and it's a way to make a little history of your own.

Russ Cohen President

THE RECORD - August 2004, Number 103
Message from the President

You can listen to many stories about Burlingame and Hillsborough's past. But there is nothing better than a photograph or illustration that can put the stories into context. Looking at a photograph of a tree lined street in Burlingame--looking much like it does today with the only clue to its age being the Model A parked in the driveway-- can bring back a flood of memories for some and can let the imagination run wild for others. Photos and memories are both subjects that The Burlingame Historical Society has put some effort behind.

Let me explain. If you visited us at our booth at this year's Art in the Park, you would have seen seven large prints of Burlingame from 1895, 1912 or 1915, for example. Some of these prints were also displayed in the window of The Studio Shop on Burlingame Avenue. The images are big and they are spectacular. Three of them are beautifully matted and framed and are on display in the main branch of The Burlingame Public Library.

The framed editions are for sale for, some say, a pricey $600. But once you gaze upon these prints you will want to own one of your own. In my opinion they are worth every penny. If you would like to save a bit, order an unframed print on paper for $300 or canvas for $400. All proceeds go to The Burlingame (Historical Society. Thank you to the Studio Shop for donating the matting and framing. Thanks also to IDennis Mayer at Ace Studios here in Burlingame for making the prints and thanks too to Pat Harding and Al Escoffier for allowing us to hang the three framed prints in the library. For a peek at the other prints that are available, please log onto www.burlingamehistorical.org.

Not too long ago, the best way to capture someone s memories of Burlingame or Hillsborough was to sit down with them with your trusty tape recorder and have a conversation. This is something our own Martha May spent many hours doing. Today, however, another great way is to go to our web site and "post" a memory. I am pleased to report that hundreds already have. Memories have been posted on subjects like Broadway Avenue in the 1950's to the changing landscape of Burlingame Avenue through the years to tales of the creeks and much, much more. It is a fascinating place to visit in order to glance backwards and imagine or remember what Burlingame was like. I hope you will visit the memories section of the web site and post a story of your own.

In the fall we hope to begin a new program that partners with students from Burlingame High School. Interviews between students and senior citizens will be video taped for inclusion in the archives and for display in a future museum.
Along with these exciting programs there has been a bit of disappointing news that is my responsibility to share.

Recently, we solicited funds from two local sources--The Peninsula Community Foundation and The City of Burlingame. Sadly, both funding requests were denied. We will continue to seek funding from various sources and despite the lack of funding, we will continue to grow our programs and continue to serve the community. I hope that if you know of funding sources or would simply like to make a donation to support The Society you will contact us…

Russ Cohen, President Burlingame Historical Society

THE RECORD - November 2004, Number 104
Message from the President

You may have read in a previous issue of this publication about something called a "wish list." The Burlingame Historical Society is always in need of certain items that are critical to our continued operation. For example, we need a new computer. The new computer would not replace our old one because there is no old one to replace. We need a "new" computer, not a used one, so that we can move our archiving efforts into the 21st Century. Don't get me wrong, we are the "historical" society after all, but that doesn't mean that everything we have in the archives should be "historical". This is particularly true for office equipment.

There are many other things on the wish list. An LCD projector so that our presentations can be better, rain gutters for the archives building (this on the heels of getting a new roof-there's one thing that can be removed from the wish list)! How about acquisition of microfilm from The Advance-Star newspaper? (The cost of this item alone hovers around $3000). We already have a microfilm reader donated several years ago by The Burlingame Public Library. There are a few things, however, that I would like to put onto the wish list that are even harder to come by than the afore mentioned items.

#1: More volunteers. This is a particular need in the archives. Cataloging hundreds of photos, articles, artifacts and documents can be a full time job. With more volunteers, this daunting job will be easier for those who choose to do it. I might add, The Society would be nowhere without this vital task.

#2: Moving pictures of Burlingame and Hillsborough. Many of you have home movies taken in the area. We would love to see Burlingame and Hillsborough through the years in more than just still photos.

#3: Speaking of still photos- Photographs of the neighborhoods of Burlingame. We have many photos of our public buildings, but we are always looking for more images of homes and the people who lived in them.

#4: A permanent place to share our treasures with the community... the treasures that we have gathered and catalogued over the past 29 years. A major announcement about this wish list item will be made shortly and it will undoubtedly spark a whole new wish list. Stay tuned!…

Russ Cohen President, Burlingame Historical Society
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