Friday, July 20, 2012

Yuma: The Sanguinetti House Museum

First-time visitors to Yuma should begin their exploration of the city with a visit to the Sanguinetti House Museum, formerly known as the Century House (see photo at right).  A small building located on the outskirts of the downtown, this museum showcases Yuma’s history from its time as a Native American settlement through the present.

E.F. Sanguinetti was a businessman in Yuma in the latter half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century.  If Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry ever passed through Yuma, they very likely would have bought supplies at one of his many mercantile stores. 

The house was bequeathed to the city of Yuma by his children; two rooms have been restored with period furniture, including a Brattleboro organ in one and wood chairs with rattan seats in the other, and show how the Sanguinetti family lived.  There is a kitchen in another room with an icebox, a small cast-iron stove, and a sink with a pump for running water.  Unfortunately, photos were not allowed to be taken inside the museum.  (See two photos of the exterior above and one below.)
Other rooms presented exhibits about Yuma’s history.  A large map on the wall near the entrance situates Yuma in the Southwest and clearly shows why its geographic location made it so important in the nineteenth century.  There is information about the Quechan (Yuma) people’s traditional way of life and then a lot of information about the Spanish, who first explored the area in the sixteenth century but who didn’t settle there until the eighteenth. 

A good description of the attacks by the Native Americans on the Spanish missions is provided, complete with translations of primary source document excerpts.  The museum also has exhibits on the riverboat and railroad history of Yuma, with many photos and artifacts displayed.  Another section of the museum displays the history of the US military presence in Yuma, which continues to this day at the Yuma Proving Grounds.

The beautiful garden at the back of the house contains an aviary, complete with peacocks (see photo at right).  During seasons other than summer, the Garden CafĂ© is open for business.  Next door to the museum is a gift shop, well-stocked with books about Yuma and its history.  Be warned, however—credit cards are not accepted.

One hour at the Sanguinetti House Museum should be sufficient to thoroughly see what it has to offer.  It’s well worth it!

Official website for the Sanguinetti House Museum: