Founded in 1999 by a community focused group of individuals, including author and historian Arne Handeland and then librarian Cynthia Bonaro, the University Place Historical Society strives to collect, preserve and educate the community about its own history. Located at 3715 Bridgeport Way is a relatively centralized business center, home not only to the Historical Society, but the UP Town Hall as well.
“We strive to preserve local artifacts of University Place culture that span everything from old fishing, logging or golfing gear, all the way up to significant photographic records from the early founders of University place,” said Frank Bonaro, president and co-founder of the UP Historical Society.
This is truly a must see for anyone interested in receiving more insight into the lesser known aspects that the South Sound has to offer, including when and how the city of University Place was established and how it transformed a “sold-off college campus into a world class city and renowned golf course at Chambers Bay,” says Bonaro. The collection of photography at the Historical Museum dates back to the early 1900’s, and due to the photographs’ condition and originality are truly amazing. Not solely their collection, but the fact that this entire Historical Museum is maintained by a force of community volunteers, spreading bits of local knowledge whenever possible, makes this a truly wonderful museum.
Back in 2014, the UP Historical Society won an award for outstanding volunteer service and dedication to the city. This is a hard won piece of recognition from a group of volunteers aimed whole-heartedly at educating the surrounding community about its relatively young, yet quirky, age of the city.
As Borano commented, “Our volunteers participate in every aspect of our operations and are a cornerstone of the community service we provide.”
Every so often in University Place, you may find yourself in any number of interesting and community directed events or tours being staffed by a 100 percent volunteer force. The past six years have brought a wonderful event called the “Spring into Summer” garden tour series, in which participants are led through several area gardens, some ground-up builds and some improvised and ingenious in nature. These tours run about $20 and proceeds have traditionally gone to the funding of restoration efforts ongoing at the Curran House. The Curran House will soon be undergoing further renovations to secure it as the new location of a new living-history museum.. You get a guided, informed tour of local gardens, as well as supporting a locally and nationally recognized historical landmark - one ideal way to engage in an area we call home.
Whether you are stopping in with family for an enrichment experience closer to home, or you’re coming to educate yourself about this community's ties to local industries, and even the University of Puget Sound, this is a quintessentially UP-style locale.