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Historic artifacts discovered behind Ray’s Cafe building in Murrieta

By in Press Enterprise on August 26, 2017

By Aaron Claverie

Members of the Murrieta Valley Historical Society found buried treasure in the structures behind Ray’s Cafe in downtown Murrieta, which was condemned by the city late last year.

The haul — saved from the landfill via the society’s intervention — included rare photos, a 19th-century journal, rusty farm implements and hundreds of artifacts that help tell the story of Murrieta and the Murrieta Hot Springs, a resort destination that helped put this corner of the county on the map.

Jeff Harmon, president of the Murrieta Valley Historical Society, holds Albert Hutchinson’s journal from 1891 pulled from historic houses behind the Ray’s Cafe’ building in downtown Murrieta. FRANK BELLINO, THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE/SCNG

The Bezanson family that owned the Ray’s Cafe building and the structures, including the second oldest house in the city, were compulsive amassers who saved almost everything and filed nooks and crannies with canned food and goods. It took a team of volunteers around four months to go through the structures and the cafe and remove the items worth saving.

“Having grown up here in Murrieta, we knew the structures were historic and they had a lot of things in them, but it was kinda surprising,” said Pat Jennings, a society member who helped with the recovery effort.

“From the society’s perspective, it was challenging but very rewarding because we uncovered a big stretch of Murrieta’s history that dated to the late 1800s.”

In recent weeks, that same team has been cleaning and cataloging the artifacts to determine which items will be showcased in the city’s history museum, which will be located in the Hunt House on Juniper Street.

Jennings said one of his favorite pieces is a deed that bears the signature of the city’s namesake, Juan Murrieta, a Spanish rancher who bought land here as grazing grounds for his huge flock of […]    

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