The Legacy of James Lick

February 1 – August 31, 2017

10 AM to 5 PM

Wednesday to Sunday

Pioneer Hall at The Presidio


California’s first multimillionaire, James Lick used his considerable wealth to establish charitable “protection and relief” organizations to address the basic needs of the many who are less fortunate in a boom and bust economy. After his death, a trust carried out the directives Lick had outlined in his will; his entire fortune was to benefit the people of California in one way or another. In addition to endowing existing service organizations (including homes for the elderly, schools for orphans, and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Lick allocated significant sums to ambitious projects benefitting future generations. He stipulated that $700,000 be used to build “a telescope superior to and more powerful than any telescope yet made” on Mount Hamilton; Lick Observatory remains one of the great scientific institutions of the world. Other beneficiaries included the California Academy of Sciences, The Mechanics Library, landmarks in Golden Gate Park, as well as The California School for Mechanical Arts, the first to enroll young women interested in studying industrial design and manufacturing. This exhibition considers the legacy of James Lick, California’s first millionaire philanthropist and features images by Isaiah West Taber (who operated one of the first commercially viable photography studios in San Francisco). Taber documented many of the projects Lick funded, including the construction and operation of The Lick Observatory (seen above) and The Academy of Sciences (seen below).



Contact John Hogan to reserve the museum for a free spring/summer field trip for your class, youth group, or scout troop: jhogan@californiapioneers.org or 415.957.1849 ext. 120



“To collect and preserve information connected with the early settlement and to form libraries and cabinets … that advances the interests and perpetuate the memory of the founders of this new state.”                        Objectives; Society of California Pioneers Articles of Incorporation, 1850

Past Exhibitions

2013 to present
2000 to 2013