The Port Hueneme Historical Museum is located in Port Hueneme, a small beach town in Ventura County. The name “Hueneme” derives from the Spanish spelling of the Chumash wene’ me, meaning “Resting Place.” Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored the Hueneme area and the adjacent Channel Islands in October 1542. The town’s name was officially changed to Port Hueneme in 1939 and the municipality was incorporated March 24, 1948.
Thomas Bard learned of a submarine canyon at Point Hueneme and took advantage of the canyon depth to construct the Hueneme Wharf in 1871. Both the Port of Hueneme and Naval Base Ventura County lie within city limits.
The Port Hueneme Historical Museum is located at 220 Market Street. The 1925 building, which was declared a Ventura County Landmark in 1976, served as the third home (previous structures burned down) of the Bank of Hueneme, a financial institution which first opened its doors on August 6, 1889 and was founded by Thomas Bard.
Two years after Security First National Bank purchased the Hueneme Bank building in 1950, the Bank of Hueneme was dissolved. The city later purchased the property and the diminutive served as City Hall from 1960 to 1973.
The distinctive neoclassical structure, which became the official residence of the Port Hueneme Historical Museum in 1973, now houses artifacts, memorabilia, furniture, clothing, black and white photo exhibits and other information about the history of the Hueneme area.
Highlights at the museum include the 3,000-piece collection of salt and pepper shakers, a barbed-wire collection that dates from 1891, a set of china and silver tea service that once belonged to Thomas Bard, and the original anchor and bell of a World War II ship. A plaque marks the spot where a 375-year-old Monterey Cypress once stood, the second oldest cypress in California.
Architect Myron Hunt, who designed the building, was also responsible for designing the Bard Mansion, Huntington Library, Occidental College and the Ambassador Hotel.
Tours of the museum can be arranged by appointment. Call 805.986.6542. Displays are maintained by the Department of Recreation and Community Services as well as the Historical Commission.
In 1976, a five-member Historical Museum Commission was appointed by the City Council to preserve Hueneme’s history and oversee operation of the museum. The current commission members include: Larry Downing, Dr. Purna Pai, Rose Boog, Joseph Morris, Cindy O’Brien and emerita Jeannette Moranda. The Commission meets the first Wednesday of the month at 1:00PM in the Museum.