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Louis L. Stein's Legacy

By Pat Thomas

Exerpted from The View From John Muir's Window, March, 1997, Newsletter of the John Muir Memorial Association


Are you a "saver"? Is it hard to throw things away? Most of us have a bit of this in us, but none of us quite measure up to Louis L. Stein.

Because of Mr. Stein, the John Muir National Historic Site Collection is greatly enriched. In the course of his lifetime, he tried to save the Alvarado Adobe in San Pablo. Unfortunately, that effort failed. In 1955 Mr. Stein bought the Martinez Adobe (1849) from it's owner, Mr. Parsowith, for $25,000. Many stories interesting surround the Adobe, such as the time Vicente Martinez stalked a bear on the area.

Over the years many people lived in the Adobe, including John Muir's daughter and son-in-law, Wanda and Tom Hanna, and family. When John Muir NHS was established, Stein sold the Adobe to the National Park Service. One of the articles on display in the Adobe is the beautiful Martinez family trunk brought by the family when they moved to California from Mexico.

Another acquisition from Louis Stein involves Contra Costa County court documents dating from 1858-1920. Some years ago the county put all of their records on microfilm. At this time all paper documents were loaded into trucks and taken to the dump. When news of this got around Mr. Stein, along with the Martinez Historical Society and the County Historical Society, descended upon these trucks with baskets, bags, boxes, etc. and loaded as much as they could carry to save these original documents. Because of these concerned citizens we have these important records (Deeds, Estates and Court Briefs) preserved. One of the documents, a jury verdict, lists Dr. Strentzel, Muir father-in-law, as the jury foreman.

All of these items contribute to the background of the years when John Muir lived in Martinez.

We are ever grateful that "savers" such as Louis L. Stein exist.


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