Mooney House becomes a museum

The following article appeared in the July 9, 1974, Hanford Sentinel on Page 2.

Mooney House Officially Deeded to Lemoore Chamber.

The 82-year-old Mooney home was officially presented to the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Monday, July 9, 1974, during a luncheon honoring the donor, Marie J. Blakeley.

The granddaughter of the original owners, Mrs. Blakeley of Fresno donated the home and property at 542 West D Street to the chamber of commerce and request that it be developed into the Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum.

The chamber of commerce has earmarked more than $5,000 realized from last year’s Lemoore Centennial activities as well as future profits from the sale of centennial coins, book and mementos for the establishment of a city museum.

According to Margie Lowe, the chamber’s museum committee also hopes to acquire land adjacent to the Mooney property and develop it as a city park.

With the cooperation of volunteer workers and local contractors, the chamber of commerce hopes to begin refurbishing the Mooney property, one of Lemoore’s oldest homes, in the near future. Plans also include incorporating an art center in the completed museum.

During the presentation luncheon Monday, Loys Blakely, the husband of the donor, related the history of the home and the Mooney family.

“Aaron Sylvester Mooney, wife Sarah, and their three-year-old-daughter, Harriet, departed from Herkimer, N. Y., in 1876 to make a new home in California.

“Having heard of the opportunities in land ownership along the lower reaches of the Kings River in Tulare County, they arrived in the Lemoore area in 1876, where they decided to settle and engage in merchandising and farming.

“He was ambitious, energetic and acquisitive and in the years to follow, he acquired other properties in Tulare and Kings counties, as well as in Kern and Alameda counties and at Morro Bay.

“Their first home in California, we believe, was located on the south side of D Street between Heinlen and Fox streets; but as this area began to build up with commercial enterprises, the built a frame house on the north side of D Street between Hill and Martin streets where they lived for a number of years.

“In October, 1892, they purchased additional lots from the Pacific Improvement Company, the Southern Pacific Railroad Company’s land management company and shortly thereafter started construction of the brick residence known as 542 West D Street which is now being presented to the Lemoore District Chamber of Commerce for use by the people of this community.

“This dwelling was completed and occupied by Mooney and his family in 1893 and after his death in November, 1912, it remained Mrs. Mooney’s home until her death in October, 1925.

In 1896, Harriet L. Mooney was married to Charles H. Bailey who was engaged in the harness, buggy, wagon and banking business and who later became Lemoore’s first mayor upon the incorporation of the city.

“Hattie and Charlie, as they were called by their friends, had six children — Marie J. Blakely of Fresno, Herbert M. Bailey of Sacramento, Dorthy A. Ferguson of Cayucos, Raymond N. Bailey (now deceased), Ellen M. Truckell and Harriet L. Hansen of Corcoran — all of whom attended local schools.

“Marie J. Blakely, having acquired title to the Mooney property in 1925, is happy to present, on behalf of her brother and sisters as heretofore named, a deed to this property which it is requested be know as the “Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum.”

The following article appeared in the October 18, 1976, Hanford Sentinel on Page 6.

Lemoore Museum Opened Sunday

Crowds roamed the picturesque grounds and poked through numerous exhibits as the Sarah A. Mooney Memorial Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time Sunday.

The open house and grand opening at he museum site, 542 W. D St. featured speeches by museum committee members and a ribbon cutting. Marie Bailey Blakely and her husband, L. M. Blakely, donors of the museum site, were on hand Sunday for the festivities.

Although additional Turn-of-the-Century artifacts are still being sought to complete the museum’s collection, enough was on hand Sunday to give visitors a peek into Lemoore’s past.

The museum property was acquired and the house built in 1893 by Aaron Sylvester Mooney and his wife, Sarah A. There they operated a livery stable and undertaking service.

Marie Blakeley, granddaughter of the Mooneys, donated the property to the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce in 1974 for use as a memorial museum. Labor, material and money for restoration of the museum was donated by by many local people in order to present a picture of the way families lived in the “olden days.”

The outside of the house is noted for the steep gables and widow’s walk on top, as well as the restored wrought iron fence along the front of the property. Furnishing at present include an antique bed and dresser, a refrigerator with coils on top, one of the first electric ovens, an old electric stove, desk, dining table and several small tables and stands, chairs, chandelier, and old pictures of Lemoore.

There is also a model of the area along the railroad track in the early days and a portrait of Harriet Mooney Bailey, who lived in the house during her girlhood.

The Museum will be open to the public 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily through Nov. 3, 1976.