Our Brief History
Located in downtown Perris at the historic Santa Fe Depot, built in 1892. The Perris Valley Historical Museum is housed in one of the nation’s few remaining railway depots with architectural and historical importance. To honor this, the National Register of Historic Places listed the building in 1994.
The exhibits focus on the history of early Perris. This includes the Luiseño Indians and artifacts demonstrating their culture and how they lived. Other artifacts delve into the early mining history of the Perris Valley, which most prominently features the Good Hope mine. A gold producing mine, Good Hope was responsible for making and breaking the fortunes of many early Perris settlers.
Another aspect of Perris’ history is farming. Many of Perris’ settlers came to the community on the advice of their physicians for the purposes of improving their health with the dry air. Farming became a means of survival for many of these settlers, starting with grain crops in the 1880s. Ultimately, Perris’ bread and butter crop become potatoes in the 1940s. White rose potatoes, which were in high demand, were shipped from the rail depot the museum now calls home.
“The city of Perris is one of the most historic cities in Riverside County in my opinion,” said Katie Keyes, 2nd Vice-President of the museum and life-long resident of the city. “Perris has a lot more history than people realize. We want the community to discover it, as well as to meet strong people who built the city.”
The museum employs no staff, instead depending on volunteers to run all aspects of the programming and to maintain the collection.
“Our group of volunteers are the most dedicated and hardworking people I have ever worked with,” said Keyes. “We all have the passion to make the museum as successful as it can be and to serve and educate our community about the rich history of Perris Valley.”
The Community Foundation was first introduced to the organization when the museum applied for, and received, a grant to purchase basic necessities for running the museum. Since then, the museum has built an agency endowment fund that is managed by The Community Foundation to support the organization in perpetuity. The fund is meant to ensure that the surprisingly vibrant history of the Perris Valley continues to be documented and shared.
As an all-volunteer organization, the museum is always looking for new volunteers and for support. One of the ways the community can show their support is to attend events sponsored by the Perris Valley Historical & Museum Association. Examples are the Silent Auction (items donated to the museum are silently auctioned to the highest bidder). The Depot After Dark, where different musical groups have played to attendees who where able to buy food while they enjoyed the live music and meet these local artists, view, and purchase their works. There are also Baazars where different vendors come to the Depot Grounds, display their wares to sell to visitors.
In conjunction with the museum, Perris Valley Museum Historical Archives was founded in 2010 with the assistance of archivist and director Christina Alanne Perris (who is the great granddaughter of Fred T Perris). The collection is housed in the historic Bank of Perris. The archives hold a tremendous amount of historical documents, many of which are digitized and available online.
"If people need to do research we have copies of the Perris Progress which started in 1901 and all the yearbooks from the schools,” said Keyes. “We want to raise funds to continue digitizing all these. We want to continue to grow into the future. We are active and ambitious.”
The Perris Valley Historical Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 pm when the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions are lifted. Admission is always free.
DATES - DATES - DATES
1891 the Hook House was Built.
1892 the Perris Santa Fe Depot was built.
1911 the City of Perris was incorporated.
1918 the Bank of Perris was built.
1964 the Perris Valley Historical & Museum Association was formed.
1980 the Perris Valley Historical Museum became housed in the Depot.
1994 our Depot was listed on the national Register of Historic Places.
2004 the City of Perris committed to restoring our Depot.
2007 our Book, Perris, A Place to Remember, was published.
2009 the Bank of Perris building was restored and our museum reopened.
2010 our historical archives moved into the Bank of Perris building.
2011 the City of Perris celebrated it's centennial.
2018 the Hook House gifted to us by David & Christine Hook Tostensen.
2019 the Hook House restored.
We take pride in caring for these properties, and sharing them with the public. We cherish these historical places! It is a big job but we are up to the challenge and committed to caring for our properties. Thank you for trusting us with your Perris Valley history -- we are working for you.
City, School Districts, and Museums
City of Perris
101 North D Street
Perris Union High School District
155 East 4th Street
Perris, CA 92570-2124
143 East 1st Street
Perris, CA 92570
975 Morgan Street
Perris, Ca 92571
Southern California Railway Museum
2201 South A Street
Perris, CA 92570
Dora Nelson African American Art & History Museum
316 East 7th Street
Perris, CA 92570
Facebook: Dora Nelson African American Art & History Museum