Villa Mira Monte (A.K.A. Morgan Hill House) and Museum
Constructed in the 1880s, the Morgan Hill House is more than just a historic home, but also a local history museum that has been open to the public since 1998. The home and the artifacts that are exhibited throughout each room preserve the history of the early pioneers who crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as well as the leading families that acquired real estate and started businesses throughout the San Jose and Santa Clara areas. Hiram Morgan Hill built the house for his bride, Diana Murphy. Murphy's family was part of the Stephans-Townsend-Murphy group that traversed the continent two years prior to the infamous Donner party. These families settled throughout the region after traveling a trail that follows closely to modern-day Interstate 80. This stately house and its lavish furnishings are a reminder of the Morgan family's success.
Backstory and Context
The Murphy family, with 23 members, made up the largest portion of the trailblazing pioneers. Martin Murphy, Sr., Diana's grandfather, moved West with hopes of finding religious, economic, and political freedoms.
Meanwhile, Hiram and Diana and their only daughter Diane lived in San Francisco, but they used the now-historic Villa Mira Monte house as their country retreat where they entertained many friends. In fact, the town acquired its name because train conductors made special stops near the home and exclaimed, "Morgan Hill's" prior to letting the guests disembark.
Morgan Hill Historical Society. Accessed April 10, 2018. http://morganhillhistoricalsociety.org/.
Richards, Gordon. The Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party. Truckee-Donner Historical Society. Accessed April 10, 2018. https://www.truckeehistory.org/the-first-pioneer-wagons-crossed-the-sierra-over-160-years-ago.html. From Gordon Richards. "Echos From The Past." Sierra Sun. September 24, 2004 and October 1, 2004.
"Villa Mira Monte." National Parks Service, Santa Clara's Historic County: California's Silicon Valley, A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. Accessed April 10, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/santaclara/vmm.htm
Photo SourcesHistorical Marker: http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3574_Villa_Mira_Monte_Morgan_Hill_CA
Taken 2012: Sanfranman59 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21642182
View from the southwest: San Jose News, 1976, found at https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/94d5359f-fccc-410b-beaf-b14a4a29a1b9. Note: The picture is a screen capture of the pdf file found on the National Parks Service Assets Page for the National Register of Historic Places.