Esther Jorgensen and her friends sit on the airy porch of the McConaghy House on Hesperian Boulevard reminiscing about their 1970s preservation efforts to transform the historic home into a public museum.
Without Jorgensen, the Save the McConaghy House committee, and the help of local organizations, the 12-room farmhouse built in 1886 would have been demolished.
But years later, Jorgensen, along with former museum docents Marcene Willard, Clara Bella Henninger, and Lucille Lorge, are allowed to admire the McConaghy House as it celebrated its 125th birthday.
"We're all very connected to this house," said Lorge, who sits across from Jorgensen.
To help kick off the birthday festivities, the Hayward Area Historical Society decked the McConaghy house in red, white and blue streamers, stars and flags.
"We wanted to decorate the house for Fourth of July,” said Johanna Fassbender, education coordinator for the Hayward Area Historical Society. “But original family members, Neal Jr. and John, were also born in July. The McConaghy House celebration is also a tribute to them.”
Among the birthday amusements were old-fashioned birthday games, including the breaking of small 1900s-style "piñatas" stuffed with candies. There was a scavenger hunt as well. The objective was to locate three hidden thimbles scattered through the house.
Attendees were also invited to create birthday cards to be hung in Archie's Playroom.
For Jorgensen and her friends, these sorts of fun and games are one of the reasons why they set out to save the McConaghy House over 30 years ago.
"When we went about saving and restoring the house, our goal was to create a place where kids could learn about local history," said Jorgensen.