Alameda Museum Opens New Gallery

Dennis Evanosky Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn holds a medal awarded by the city to Thelma Eisfeldt, an Alameda nurse who died in France while serving with the Red Cross. Gunn is standing in the museum’s newest gallery, which highlights, among other topics, Alameda’s role in World War I.

 

The Alameda Museum recently unveiled artifacts in its new gallery. The displays feature one of the city’s founders, the city’s early schools and the police department along with one of Bay Farm Island’s farmers and his wharf. Of special interest are the displays that highlight Alameda’s role in World War I. 

Gunn is especially proud of one of the very personal items from “the war to end all wars.” Thelma Eisfeldt’s service medal is easy to miss nestled among several other medals in a cabinet that Gunn purchased with his own money. 

“She served as a Red Cross nurse in France,” Gunn said. She died in Le Mau and is buried there. “Thelma’s medal is special,” he said, pointing out its small star. “That signifies that she died while serving her country.”

Other artifacts feature women serving their country during World War I. These include a poster by noted Alameda artist Harrison Fisher, a photo of Alameda nurses fashioning bandages for the wounded and a piece of “trench art.” 

“This belonged to an Alameda resident,” Gunn said, pointing to the decorated artillery shell. “The shell boasts a floral design with the words ‘souvenir de fort, keepsake of the stronghold.’” Gunn said that the words embossed on the shell signify the American’s stamina in trench warfare. 

A uniform worn by an Alameda resident who served in World War I complements the display.

Pictures on an adjacent wall depict two of Alameda’s early schools: Wilson School, which once stood on Van Buren Street and was renamed Lincoln School, and the first Alameda High School that morphed into Haight School. 

Other displays, nearly all seeing the light of day for the first time, feature the early Alameda Police Department and include a sketch of and a vest worn by William Worthington Chipman, one of the founders of the Town of Alameda. 

Learn more about the museum at www.alamedamusuem.org and by visiting the museum’s Facebook page. 

 

Dennis Evanosky is the president of the board of directors for Alameda Museum.