St. Joseph's Cultural Center
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St. Joseph's Cultural Center was built in 1866 by the local community who donated the buildings to the Sisters of Mercy to use as a Convent and to establish the Mt. St. Mary's Orphanage Asylum.
The buildings housed the first orphanage, the first convent, and the first private school in Northern California. The nuns cared for Grass Valley's orphans as well as orphans from all over Northern California, southern Oregon and western Nevada for almost 100 years, housing, feeding, clothing and educating them. The orphans were relocated to Sacramento during the post World War II period.
When the nuns left in the late 1960s, a group of concerned citizens formed a committee to save the buildings from decay. The Sisters of Mercy then donated the building and grounds to the committee with the promise that the buildings be used as an arts and cultural center. The committee received 501 c 3 non-profit status in 1972 as the Historic Mt. St. Mary's Preservation Committee, dba St. Joseph's Cultural Center. The buildings received the State of California Historic Landmark status in 1973, and became the first center for arts and culture in Grass Valley.
St. Joseph’s Cultural Center is the home of the Grass Valley Museum, the Moving Ground Dance and Yoga Studio, Grass Valley Taiko, Foothills Arts, Resources and Media, John Olmstead’s Earth Planet Museum, 11 Artist's Studios, a Historic Rose Garden, and a Performance Hall.
The Grass Valley Museum depicts the rich history of this area from the Gold Rush days to 1930 with displays of old time artifacts, art, objects d'art, clothing, and furnishings from the Victorian era. The Museum has a library, parlor room, music room, doctor's office, classroom, and bedroom. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 12:30 PM - 3:30 PM. The Museum is closed in January, February and March.
The artist studios are private, and the art gallery is open by appointment only.
The Moving Ground Dance and Yoga Studio offers dance and yoga classes throughout the year. Dances include belly dancing and childrens' dance classes. Yoga classes take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.
Foothills Art, Resources and Media is located on the first floor of the building.
Grass Valley Taiko dojo hosts classes, workshops and training in Taiko (drumming).
John Olmstead's Earth Planet Museum takes the visitor on a trip through time, and is open by appointment only.
The Historic Rose Garden includes 122 rose bushes, several crepe myrtle trees, camellias, holly trees, palm trees, a wide variety of flowering trees and plants, two statues, a fountain, and a sundial.
The Performance Hall was once the chapel for the Sisters of Mercy. It was built of 100% wood in 1894. It has high ceilings, an oak wood floor, a stage, a small kitchen and it is heated and air conditioned. The walls are covered with a thin sheet of tin pressed into various designs. Drumming and dance classes are held in the Hall Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and T'ai Cji Class on Wednesday. The Hall is available for weddings, receptions, birthday parties, family reunions, memorial services, workshops, theater groups, recitals, and concerts.
The Cultural Center is open year round. The Grass Valley Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 12:30 PM - 3:30 PM, and closed January, February and March. The Grass Valley Museum is by donation. .Weekly classes, concerts and other events occur all year.