Palo Alto History Museum snags $100,000 grant from Santa Clara County

Funds will restore roof of Roth Building

The effort to rehabilitate the Palo Alto History Museum received a financial boost this week from Santa Clara County, which awarded a grant to rebuild the roof at the Roth Building that will house the city's history.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to award the museum and the city of Palo Alto a $102,992 grant from the fiscal year 2019 Historical Heritage Grant Program, according to a statement issued Friday.

The grant will fund a historical restoration project to rebuild the roof of the city-owned Roth Building located at 300 Homer Ave.

"The Palo Alto History Museum is a treasure in the making," Supervisor Joe Simitian said in the statement. "Our Valley rightfully takes pride in its 21st Century role as a technology and thought leader, but there's a history here we would do well to remember, and learn from. It's just so important that we protect these pieces of our history for future generations."

This milestone marks a promising beginning for the museum, which has been in limbo for many years as its board of directors struggled to raise enough funds to bring the project to fruition despite support from the city.

"In a city named for a huge redwood tree (el palo alto), many Palo Altans nonetheless feel rootless," said Laura Bajuk, executive director of the Palo Alto History Museum. "Newcomers struggle to find their footing. Long-timers remember a community that felt more connected, face to face. The new museum will tell the many stories of our community; dark moments to be learned from, and bright moments that will instill pride. Stories that will inspire, heal and open minds."

"We hope everyone who experiences the new museum will feel a sense of community and connection, and be inspired to share that with others," Bajuk said.


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12 people like this
Posted by Laura Bajuk
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2019 at 9:49 am

We’re very grateful that the county is willing to help preserve historic buildings that continue to serve the public.

This new grant, coupled with support from over 900 individuals, businesses, corporations, foundations and the city, drops our fundraising goal for construction to “only” $700k - completing the $9.2 million needed to convert the old Roth Building into a usable space.

Once that’s done, we can turn it into a museum. (Learn more at

Thank you to our community for their support over the years! - Laura Bajuk, ED

3 people like this
Posted by English speaker
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 31, 2019 at 12:53 pm

"Snags" ? is that millennial-speak?
Why the negative connotation?

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 31, 2019 at 4:29 pm

^ Snag sounds like a fishing term to me.
Merriam-Webster: "to catch or obtain usually by quick action or good fortune"

6 people like this
Posted by Holman on display
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 31, 2019 at 6:27 pm

[Post removed.]

14 people like this
Posted by Cultural Consultant
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2019 at 4:20 pm

CONGRATS to Palo Alto History Museum on receiving a Historical Heritage Grant from the County of Santa Clara.

I agree with another commenter on the use of the word "snag" in the headline. Perhaps "awarded" would have been a better choice of words. This grant process was very competitive, so Palo Alto History Museum should be commended for the hard work they put into their grant application. "Snag" doesn't cut it.

10 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Great news! I'm very pleased to see the History Museum moving closer to fully use that beautiful historic building. The Palo Alto Historical Society usually comes with some exhibits to the Midtown Residents Association Ice Cream Social. There's a lot of interesting things that they have and I look forward to visiting the new quarters when completed.

7 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 4, 2019 at 5:59 pm

So, this grant is a mere ONE PERCENT of the $9,100,000 price tag. I hate to be the negative Nancy, but there is no common sense on this project here. Given that context, this shouldn't even be a story.

A decade of failure later, who does this group think it is fooling? Anyone paying attention knows this project is a protracted boondoggle, but it's too "connected" for anyone to stick out their neck to speak out publicly. [Anyone who knows how to add numbers, anyway.] They're all just hoping it will slowly die. [It's core of exponents excepted, of course.]

I know I'll get called a "history hater" for saying this, but it's going to be a massive waste of public funds if it does go through, because there's no way they'll raise the money and council will get pressured by this vocal minority into paying the rest with your money. We other folks need to be ready to oppose this crazy price tag vehemently if/when it comes to that.

History, yes. Asking US to fund a $10 million dollar project with a decade of insufficient support... no way.

2 people like this
Posted by Laura Bajuk
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Hello again!

Allow me to offer a few clarifications that should put some of you more at ease, should you be open to it.

- The Museum group (most all volunteer) has raised all but $750,000 of the needed rehabilitation amount – which is $9.2M. We’re working on the last eight (8) percent, and are proud to be so close to goal - at last.

- Why so much? Forget what you pay for a home remodel. All City projects (this is and always will be a City building) must pay prevailing wages – much higher than an individual pays privately. And the 1932 cast-concrete building needs seismic bracing. It adds up fast.

- The good news is that our rehabilitation contract holds steady at a not-to-exceed $9.2 M, a real plus given the current economy.

- On top of the above, the Museum group has already spent over $3 M to get to this point - on all the required prep, planning, architects, revisions, etc. including City permits (we don’t get a pass on City fees).

- Plus, we’ve raised 25% of the funds to turn it into a Museum once construction is done. When done, almost all the entire project funding will come from community members.

Yes, it's taken time to get to 92% of the needed funds for construction. Asking someone for a million dollars may sound easy to those who’ve never done it. Other issues will always compete for limited resources.

But Palo Altans get it done – in time. Whether it's a decade or so for the Woman's Club to fund raise for their building, or several bond efforts to revamp our libraries, determined community volunteers eventually get there.

Over 900 community members have stepped up to help - we’re grateful for everyone’s support. Thank you for a chance to share more of our story with you.

Like this comment
Posted by history fan
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 11, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Thank you to all the people who are putting their time and effort into bringing this exciting project to Palo Alto.

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