Ghosts of Christmas Past

Learn the history of Christmas, as well as the strange story of how it was celebrated in Old San Luis, as you stroll the holiday-bedecked streets. Find out how Jewish, Chinese, and Anglo merchants all played a part; where we got Christmas trees in this arid climate;...

Mission to Mosque

Trace two centuries of sacred architecture and religious communities—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—from the Mission San Luis Obispo (1793) to the Mosque of Nasreen (2008). Find out how to interpret the visual symbols and learn about the lives of the worshipers.

Modern Masters of Architecture

San Luis boasts the work of renowned innovators from Julia Morgan to Frank Lloyd Wright. Unpack the hidden messages of modern architecture in their minds and designs, and find out how their patrons lived and worked in these brave new buildings.

California Craftsman Style

At the dawn of the twentieth century, West Coast weather and scenery inspired a new ethos of life and style of building. See the city’s finest Craftsman houses, learn their language, and discover what motivated the people who built and dwelt in them.

Rise of a Railroad Town

Trains transformed sleepy San Luis from the middle of nowhere to the center of somewhere, a place that lured presidents, press barons, and poets. Relive the epic of the West through the men, women, buildings, and rolling stock of the Railroad District.

Victorian Houses, Wild West Lives

Surrounded by elegant buildings and exotic plants, how did the people in this dusty cattle town really live? The answers will surprise you, from crime to culture, plumbing to politics—not to mention the dozen different architectural styles they indulged in.

Reformers and Rebels: The Women Who Led San Luis

Walk where women built, planted, painted, and reformed the city: from artist Ascension Dallidet to poet Frances Milne, candidate Queenie Warden, philanthropist Phoebe Hearst, and Rosario Cooper, who preserved the Northern Chumash language.

Life in SLO’s Adobes

Find out where our mud buildings are, who lived in them, how they were built, and why they survived. Follow San Luis Creek—SLO’s adobe artery—from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and learn to separate mud fact from mud myth.

Lawless San Luis

Fortunes are made and lives lost at the edges of maps. Experience the culture clashes, greed, and piety that led to some of the strangest stories of our history, including swindles, shoot-outs, bombings, and flaming arrows.

Heart of SLO History

Walk Downtown, Chinatown, and Tiger Town from the Mission Era to modern times. See where good, bad, and weird history was made and hear the people who made San Luis speak through the words and buildings they left behind.