The 126-year history of National City can now be told through the city’s new historic archive room, which opened two weeks ago at the historic Brick Row.
The 600-square-foot room that was once home to Janice Martinelli, the president of National City’s Historical Society and Museum curator, now houses hundreds of historical documents, books, photos and diaries of the Kimball family — the founding fathers of the county’s second oldest city.
Martinelli moved across the street to become the caretaker of another historical house. She said she does plan to move back in to Brick Row in the future.
The archive room was three years in the making, but the overall process, Martinelli said, took more than three decades.
“This is a goal (the making of the archive room) that I’ve had since I moved in 36 years ago,” Martinelli said. “But there was no place to do it, we had a library, so we were just donating things to the library all the time and keeping things in crates.”
Martinelli said many of the original documents and photos in the room were obtained through research and donations.
These documents of the city, first named Rancho Del Nacion then National City, include the first documented police records, cemetery records, pictures of railroads which no longer exist in the city, and a copy of the prostitution license owned by the famed U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp.
The archive room is run by volunteers and costs about $800 a month to maintain, which Martinelli said she funds out of her own pocket.
Martinelli said the archive room adds another reason to visit National City, even those who spent their whole life living there, because most residents don’t know about the rich history of the place in which they live.
Martinelli said National City has more historical sites than any city in the county.
She added the archive room couldn’t come to fruition without the city government’s support.
“This government that we have right now is the most supportive I’ve seen in 36 years,” she said. “ They care about the history and they see what we can generate tourism-wise, and educate people on what we have.”
Leslie Deese, National City’s city manager, visited the archive room when it first opened. She said the room gives the city something to be proud of.
“(The archive room is) fantastic because National City is rich in history,” Deese said. “It’s a real gem that chronicles our city’s history.”
Deese said the archive room is not a city maintained room, she said this was Martinelli’s project.
The room is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment by calling (619) 962-4128.
Brick Row is located in National City at 909 A Ave.