Ralston, California, The McHenry Museum, The McHenry Museum of Art And History

The McHenry Museum of Art And History

The McHenry Public Library of Modesto, California, was constructed after Oramil McHenry, a local businessman, died of cancer at the age of 44 and left a will that allocated money for the construction of a grand library.

Oramil McHenry, who owned the McHenry Mansion in Modesto, was one of multiple businessmen financing libraries in the United States between 18th and 19th Centuries. On May 1, 1912 the McHenry Public Library was completed and opened to the public. Presently, the former library serves as the McHenry Musuem of Art and History, which has exhibits regarding the city of Modesto and the inner valley of California.

The town of Modesto, California was originally named Ralston, after bank president and resident William Chapman Ralston when it was founded in October 1870. William Chapman Ralston was modest and declined to have the town named after him, so the town was renamed to Modesto, which is Spanish for modest.

The McHenry Musuem of Art and History has a collection of historical photos of downtown Modesto on display.

In addition the musuem has an article about the hanging in 1875, which occurred in the downtown lawn.

Author’s Note:

Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the most libraries, out of any American businessman, in the United States. Carnegie financed a total of 2,509 libraries between 1883 and 1929.


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