About Us

McKinney House Museum
The McKinney House Museum is a period-furnished facility available for tours and special events. The McKinney House is open every Saturday from 1 to 4 pm (closed holiday weekends). Special, school and group tours can be arranged. Call (619) 466-0107 for further information. Rev. Henry A. McKinney built the home for his family in 1908. The McKinney’s were active in the cultural, educational, commercial and fraternal life of early La Mesa. The house is furnished in the 1908 – 1920 period.  Interested in being a House Docent?  Call us at (619) 466-0107 to sign up for training.
Historical Center Archives
One of the Center’s most active programs is its historical archives and Palermo Building Research Reading Room. The Center’s Archival Collections include documents, records, newspapers, artifacts, photographs, video and oral history records focused on the history of La Mesa and its environs. The Center Archives are open every Saturday from 1 to 4pm (excepting holidays) or by appointment. Photocopies and photographic image reproductions are available for a fee. The Center has also authored books, publications and CDs/DVDs and other items relative to the history of La Mesa.
Annual Historic Home Tour
One of the Center’s most popular events is the Annual Historic Home Tour. Each year the Center features 5 to 6 historic homes that illustrate the wonderful suburban landscape of La Mesa. Visitors are transported via buses to view these wonderfully restored and rehabilitated homes. The participant owners generously offer to share their homes for this marvelous example of Greater La Mesa community spirit. Check the Events section of the website for more details.
Special Events / Roundtables
The Center’s Educational mission is met through a variety of special events, including our regular History Roundtable Lecture series on topics of La Mesa History. The Center has also sponsored walking tours, historic plaque programs, traveling photo exhibits, and booths at annual civic events such as the Rolando Street Fair and Flag Day Parade. Last year the Center also began an association with the Theatre Organ Center of San Diego to create a Silent Movie Night event featuring films from La Mesa’s short but significant role in the early film industry. Check the Calendar Page for the latest Center Events.

The La Mesa History Center Mission
To promote, collect and educate on and about the history of Greater La Mesa area for the benefit of the community through the McKinney House Museum, Historical Archives and public programs.

The Greater La Mesa area includes the communities of Grossmont, Mt Helix, Casa de Oro, Spring Valley, Rancho San Diego and Fletcher Hills along with San Diego’s College Neighborhoods, Rolando, Del Cerro, and San Carlos, all of which share associated histories.

The La Mesa History Center Vision
An organization actively engaged in preserving La Mesa’s unique heritage for future generations to see and enjoy.

Become a volunteer with the society
The society invites its members to become more involved through volunteering. Opportunities include McKinney House docents, archival volunteers, communications volunteers to help with the newsletter and social media, special event volunteers, Home Tour docents, fund raising volunteers, historic preservation promoters and facility maintenance volunteers.  If you are interesting in volunteering please call the society at (619) 466-0197 or email volunteers@lamesahistory.com.

The History Center Is

  • an all-volunteer organization, incorporated in 1975, with officers and directors elected by the general membership of the organization.
  • a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public benefit, educational California corporation, and exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Tax ID 95-2984773)
  • funded by annual membership dues, contributions, bequests and memorials, grants and fund-raising events.
  • actively collecting additional archival materials and objects associated with the history of La Mesa
  • engaged with the La Mesa community and other civic institutions.
  • an active advocate for historic preservation of La Mesa’s cultural resources.
  • one of La Mesa’s hidden gem institutions.
  • the sum of its membership and volunteer’s effort.

Come Learn With Us

From its 19th century origins of cattle and sheep grazing to its period as a silent-movie mecca in 1911-12, La Mesa has a rich and colorful past. Find out more about the history of your community, neighborhood or house at one of our quarterly History Roundtable presentations or at the Research Archives.

Community Participation

The Center’s volunteers regularly man booths and participate in community events such as the annual Rolando Street Fair and Flag Day Parade and other special events where history and historic displays and photographs are shared with the public at large.