Saturday, April 10, 2010

Woodside's general store, a well-kept secret

Woodside, one of the wealthiest small towns of the US, keeps a nifty little secret tucked away in the woods and it's got nothing to do with the Silicon Valley. It's Woodside's historic general store, an unassuming little building that thousands of locals pass by when driving to Huddart County park and one of only two public historic sites in all of San Mateo County.

Just looking at the general store from the road, you'd think it was a vacant building or something. It looks awfully dark inside. I went on a week day and there was nobody around it. I even thought it was closed. The dirt lot behind had only cars parked. And yet, the white shirt hanging on a clothes line outside should have ticked me off. All I needed was to push the door to discover a real general store frozen in time in the 1880s. Woodside's historic general store is a museum.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Woodside's general store was built in 1854 by Dr. Robert Orville Tripp and his partner M.A. Parkhurst. In these early years of European settlement, Woodside was a logging town and by 1855 there were eight saw mills and one shingle mill in the city. The Woodside General Store sold everything loggers could need, from leather boots to pots and pans, from fresh produce to ax handles.

Being one of the few stops between San Francisco and San Jose, the store also became a post office with Tripp as the postmaster, operating for people as far as Half Moon Bay. Since Dr. Tripp was also a dentist by training, he brought a dentist chair for one of the back rooms and performed regular dental check-ups of the locals there. Pulling teeth was his specialty. Don't miss the arsenal of instruments he used in the back rooms!

As you enter the store, you will be struck by how dark it is inside. Museum atmosphere guaranteed. Next thing you will notice, there are strings of garlic hanging from the ceiling and blue enamel pots and pans hooked on the wall. Lining the area beneath the staircase, wooden boxes piled with fake produce get you in the country store feel. Walk to the right of the main counter in front of the period food cans. There you will see neat vintage piggy banks that perform cool coin tricks. On the floor and in the cases you will find all the proper clothing and sewing paraphernalia you need to go live in the woods.

The docent on duty that day told me that the store was immensely popular with school field trips. Students get to churn butter, they learn how to use a two-man saw to cut redwood and make shingles (they all bring a shingle back home), they do laundry chores with an old-fashioned washboard and wringer, and they all participate in a scavenger hunt that makes them discover the shelves of the store. I want to be a third-grader again!

Wait, I don't need to be a third grader again - that's actually pretty good news. On Sunday May 2nd, 2010, the Woodside General Store will host its annual History Day with hands-on activities for children, horse wagon rides and games. So mark your family calendar now and be ready to bring a shingle back home!

Details: Open Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Closed all other days and holidays. 
Address: 3300 Tripp Road , Woodside, CA 94062  
Directions: click here.

4 comments:

Tiffany said...

You've brought back such good memories for me with this posting! Haven't been there in WAY too long. Thanks, Laure.

Lisa Benest MD said...

I'd never heard of Woodside! Sounds like a great place to check out. Thanks for the tip.

buy tools online australia said...

Some of the artifact collections turned into ashes when this historic building was destroyed by fire two years ago.

Router Mill said...

I don't need to be a third grader again - that's actually pretty good news.