by Maddy Rotkosky, CHA Intern

The Coronado Historical Association was founded in 1969 to preserve Coronado’s history. The first stirrings of what would become the Coronado Historical Association occurred when a group of concerned citizens formed in order to fight the retirement of the old Coronado Ferries. Led by Bunny MacKenzie, the group called themselves the Coronado Committee of 86. Their name stemmed from the fact that the first ferry boat had come to Coronado in 1886. They felt that at least one of the boats should be preserved as a testament to Coronado’s history. In the end, the group did not have the funds to purchase the boat. The group however, continued to grow in Coronado. The Coronado Historical Association became a part of the Coronado. Led by Miss Bunny and Katherine Carlin, the group began to fight to preserve parts of Coronado, and also to collect and store pieces of Coronado history, such as newspapers, facts, and photos.

The CHA began by holding small exhibitions wherever they could - from local banks to Christmas Home Tours. The Association grew until 1987 when the Board of Directors approved the purchase of a house on Loma Avenue. The CHA earned the money to purchase the location by holding multiple fundraisers, though an anonymous donation of 100,000 dollars helped them to pay off the mortgage. This location would house the first-ever permanent home for the Archives of the Association and a Coronado Museum. Although Bunny was the driving force behind the Coronado Historical Association, she gave the credit of the museum formation to Gerry MacCartee and Nancy Cobb, saying they worked hard to see the museum project through. Gerry MacCartee eventually became the CHA president, while Nancy Cobb became the treasurer. They worked on many projects, and eventually saw the opening of the history museum in 1993. After 12 years of collecting and preserving Coronado's history, the Association outgrew the small house on Loma Avenue. It’s future was changed by benefactors Don and Leslie Budinger. Don Budinger had decided to purchase and renovate 1100 Orange Avenue - the old Bank of Commerce building. In 1999, Don and Leslie Budinger began gifting the building to the Coronado Historical Association, wanting to leave Coronado better off then they had found it. The Museum of History & Art was created in the new CHA building. Today, the museum remains at 1100 Orange Avenue, and houses the three exhibit galleries, a research center, state-of-the-art storage fault and a Museum Store. When the Coronado Historical Association reached 100 years in 2011, it received historic designation from the Coronado Historic Resource Commission. Since its inception, the museum has featured both permanent and changing exhibits with diverse subjects from League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates to 100+ Years of Coronado Yachting. The organization’s collection houses over 20,000 photographs, 1,400 artifacts, and thousands of archival documents. The CHA library currently serves as a research hotspot for local historians and citizens wanting to learn more about Coronado’s history.

Today, the Coronado Historical Association is a non-profit charitable organization. It still maintains its original goal to help people understand and appreciate Coronado’s unique history, art, architecture, and historical resources. The CHA continues to house a collections vault, with carefully preserved artifacts from newspapers to clothing. In the Coronado Historical Association Museum, Coronado’s history is displayed through exhibitions. The Coronado Historical Association also has a special focus on educational programs and outreach. The Association provides numerous educational opportunities, including year-round public lectures, programs for adults, an annual Preservation Symposium, numerous educational programs with the Coronado Unified School District, a high-school internship program, and a Historic Home Tour on Mother’s Day.