Business / Economy

Luck’s 100 Year Celebration in Planning Stage

Future plans in motion for the 100 birthday celebration and dedication of a historic landmark, home of the Luck Museum in San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista's historic “Luck” structure will turn 100 years old in 2019. Already, the San Juan Bautista Historical Society is making big celebratory plans. This old gas station has been the home for the Luck Museum since 2008.

A landmark birthday celebration and dedication in memorializing the structure is underway by the SJB Historical Society.

San Juan Bautista’s “Sesquicentennial” birthday party will also occur the same year. The Historical Society is hoping to coordinate these major milestones, as the building turns 100 and the city marks it’s 150th birthday

The Luck Museum’s first location was in the Texas Lodge of Masonic Order from 1966-1979 and then a storage room at the Carl Martin Luck Memorial Library in 1979. In 2008, the Historical Society and Luck Museum found their home just a few yards away from the library. Previously the building was a “fill 'er up” business in the 1930’s, but now it is a place for history to be discovered.

Since 1965, the San Juan Bautista Historical Society has been very involved with the community and bringing the history of the town to the forefront.

Wanda Guibert has been involved since 2005. President for the last five years, Guibert says, “My purpose for becoming involved with the Luck Museum is to share with the public the history of this city.”

Wanda gives much of the credit to Georgiana Gularte who she considers the driving force behind the Historical Society. Gularte has been an active member since 1965, when it was chartered as a corporation. Gularte’s personal vision for the Luck Museum is to make the town known as a “transportation and crossroads to everywhere.”

Gularte says, “This town was a stage stop, car stop, train stop; the town being a major crossroad, for any direction one would be traveling. San Juan Bautista has always been on the trail to somewhere. In the ‘Gold Rush’ days, the community was kept alive by quicksilver (mercury), which was transported from the town of New Idria.”

“During the 1920’s and 1930’s it was a bustling and thriving town for so many travelers and merchants,” adds Guibert. She says, “Transporting freight was a big business in town, which was why there was so much activity back then.”

Recent hard times fell on the structure in 2016 by the heavy rainfall that season. It caused severe damage to the roof, saturated the carpet, and destroyed equipment that was inside the museum. Fortunately, funding came through to repair the roof.  Volunteers cleaned up the damage inside.

The Luck Museum and The Japanese American Citizens League Hall recently opened their doors for public viewing. The exhibit was a chance to see inside that old “Luck” gas station. The Luck Museum holds a wealth of historical books and records and rare photographs dating back from the late 1800s. This small museum, situated close to the corner of Monterey and Third Street, also contains a collection of artifacts, documents and tools.

The Japanese American Citizens League Hall is just one block up from the Luck Museum on First Street.
The JACL was established in 1929 and moved to San Benito County in 1937. Kurt Kurasaki, the president of the JACL was on hand to answer any questions at the recent photographic exhibit at the JACL Hall.  The hall was built in 1935 for the Japanese community and housed a Japanese school.  Kurasaki says, “Interesting how this community was; back in 1942. So many different cultures that came together.”

San Juan Bautista is so rich in history. Many of the residents and visitors can discover a flowing river of knowledge about this little town by visiting the Luck Museum. Usually, it's a sleepy-eyed town on Mondays after the weekend tourists leave; the San Juan Bautista Luck Museum intends to keep their doors open more often.

The Luck Museum is currently open by appointment only. To schedule a visit, call the San Juan Bautista Historical Society at (831) 623-2001 or (831) 262-7997.



Bernadine Belaski-McGee

Bernadine Belaski-McGee is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. She is a part-time city employee at Carl Martin Luck Memorial Library in San Juan Bautista. Her passion includes fine art photography, writing, creating fun educational programs and planning events.