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History of the Museum

The Silverado Museum, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, which houses one of the world's most distinguished collections of Stevensoniana, opened its doors to the public on December 14, 1969, thus commemorating the 75th anniversary of the death of the author of such beloved classics as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses.

The Museum is located in St. Helena in the heart of the wine country, almost in the shadow of the mountain from which the city takes its name. In 1880 Robert Louis Stevenson spent his honeymoon in an abandoned bunkhouse at the old Silverado Mine on the slope of Mount St. Helena. The Silverado Squatters is Stevenson's account of his stay there.

The Museum was the realization of the dream of one of America's foremost bibliophiles. As a young man, Norman H. Strouse came across John Henry Nash's fine press first edition of The Silverado Squatters, read it with enthusiasm, visited the site of the bunkhouse, and became an ardent Stevenson collector. When Mr. Strouse retired as Chairman of the Board of J. Walter Thompson Company, he and his wife, Charlotte, retired to St. Helena, where they established a foundation to provide funds for a museum devoted to the life and works of Robert Louis Stevenson. Mr. Strouse gifted his personal collection of Stevensoniana, one of the finest in private hands, and this became the nucleus of an ever growing collection.

For nine years the Museum was housed in a beautiful old stone building, The Hatchery, but in May, 1979 it moved to more spacious and permanent quarters in the new St. Helena Public Library Center, where it erected its own wing at its own expense. There a red carpet casts a warm, cheerful glow on cases filled with memorabilia; well-lighted paintings show to a better advantage and there is more room for displays. A"jewel box" type of museum, it works at all levels, for eager six-year-olds as well as bibliophiles and scholars.

The Museum has been fortunate in securing international attention; numerous articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines,and in both 1976 and again in 1996 the BBC filmed documentaries which have been shown several times over BBC in Stevenson's native Scotland. Visitors have come from all 50 states and 81 foreign countries.

Scholars and researchers on Robert Louis Stevenson's life and works are encouraged and welcomed to spend time at the Museum while pursuing their academic interests. Research fees are $15/hour. Scheduled appointments are required in advance by calling (707) 963-3757. Click here for more information.

 

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