The Maple Valley Historical Society is an Incorporated Organization within the State of Washington and is classified as a 501-C(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service of the Federal Government. The organization is an all-volunteer organization formed over 35 years ago. The goals of the organization are to teach people about the history of the Greater Maple Valley area, provide a means for people to do research on their heritage, and to showcase the history of the area through maintaining two (2) museums with displays of the past and a storage building for overflow items. The Society has a paid membership of over 300 people and organizations.
The two museums are located next to the Maple Valley Community Center in the heart of the City of Maple Valley and are the Gibbon-Mezzavilla General Store and the Fire Engine museum. The Gibbon-Mezzavilla General Store is the restored original store of the Greater Maple Valley area that was frequented by early residents. The Fire Engine museum houses the restored 1926 Howard Cooper Fire Engine which was the original Fire Engine used by Fire District 43 Volunteers. In addition to the Howard Cooper, there are displays depicting the early years of the Fire District. The Gibbon-Mezzavilla General Store and the Fire Engine Museum are open the first Saturday of each month from 10:00am to 2:00pm or by appointment.
The Society provides a History Treasure Box curriculum for the Tahoma School District third graders. The curriculum provides for guided class tours of all of our museums for the students, teachers and chaperons. Since the program’s inception, we have had more than 1200 students participate in this program.
The Society’s volunteers also provide free public programs five (5) times each year. The programs are held at various facilities around the Greater Maple Valley area to allow for handicap accessibility and to generate the most interest by the groups that the programs are geared too. In particular, the programs are geared to the History of Maple Valley, History of Hobart, the annual Tahoma Alumni Picnic and to participate in and have the museums open during Maple Valley Days each June. Every 3 months, the Society publishes the Bugle which provides the membership with information about the goings on within the society and historical facts about the Greater Maple Valley area.
The Society has developed a great working relationship with the City of Maple Valley. Since the City’s incorporation in 1997, the City has strived to keep the area’s Historical roots in perspective while still growing and changing. The City’s vision statement specifically states that “maintaining historic connections with the area’s rural past” is necessary. To that end, the City has provided financial support for the ongoing utility costs and insurance for the Gibbon-Mezzavilla General Store and the Fire Engine museum that reside on their property.
The Society has several publications about local history. Many of these have been written by local volunteers and are available for sale to the general public at the museums and during the free public programs. Some of these publications include: One Hundred Years Along the Cedar River, Histories of Greater Maple Valley, The Cedar River, Fire District 43, WWII Veterans from the Tahoma School District, and anecdotal family histories.