I’m sorry, it is not cheesy at all. Pacifica actually has a pretty cool history, and a visit to the Pacifica Coastside Museum, also known as the Little Brown Church, will tell you all about it. You’ll be greeted by one of the volunteer guides and walked through the two rooms full of artifacts and information signs.
The other greeter is a 8-foot statue of Pacifica. This is a replication of 80-foot Pacifica used at the Golden Gate International Exposition 1939/40 held on Treasure Island off of San Francisco. Our guide informs us proudly that she was there!
A contest was held in 1957 to find a name for this newly incorporated coastal city. Maybe still reminiscent of the International Expo, or an urge for peace after WWII, Pacifica won the contest. Wikipedia explains the symbolism for Pacifica at the Expo: “Pacifica was the theme statue for the exposition, representing world peace, neighborliness, and the power of a unified Pacific coast.”
Upstairs, the first thing you’ll notice is the model train set up in the middle of the room. Before 1920 the railroad planned to go from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. It was never completed as it ran into major obstacles, like the earthquake in 1906 and numerous landslides. But at the beginning it was thought to be a great escape for city dwellers tired of San Francisco to acquire a beach escape in Salada Beach, as it was known back then.
Other exhibit items talk about the history before beach culture like, Mammoth bones, First Nations and their conquerors.
Returning to the cheesy part – you did not think I forgot? – we have to enter the gift shop. Oh yes, the tiny room is filled with history books and local art. The real kicker is the contents in the little fridge in the back. Cheese!! This history begins with Pacifican Kathleen Manning’s discovery of an old cookbook and how she uncovered the origin of Monterey Jack. Apparently this cheese was created in Pacifica’s Mori Point Inn in 1888! The recipe was stolen by a disgruntled employee and he ran with it to Jack’s Ranch in Monterey where the cheese made a name for itself. Read more here about the fascinating story. Or better yet, stop by the Pacifica Coastside Museum and buy a pound of this historical cheese for $8.
The Pacifica Coastside Museum, on 1850 Francisco Blvd, is currently open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Visits to the museum are free. Proceeds of the cheese sale go to the Pacifica Historical Society.
What do you think about this cheesy history?
To learn about Pacifica’s local history you might also consider taking the self-guided walking tour.