Visit the Renewed Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum
By Ellen Absher, State Park Interpreter II
An architectural marvel sits on a rocky hillside with a commanding view of hills & homes, and Lake Perris State Recreation Area. Eight foot tall windows look down the roadway atop Perris Dam, to the east is majestic San Jacinto Peak, highest point in the California State Park system.
The concrete and wood structure was built in 1974 as a visitor center for the Department of Water Resources. After 10 years of DWR use, a great transformation occurred. It was taken over by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the life of the first Regional Indian Museum began. Today the Museum focus is of the culture and history of southern California native peoples of the desert region.
But twenty five years of winter winds and rain (yes, it does rain in southern CA, occasionally), blasts of summer heat and the rumbling and shaking of earthquakes took their toll on the “hillside house.” Windows leaked in the slightest rain shower, the AC cooled air sneaked out not-so-air tight doors while lizards and snakes crept in, and the roof was peeling back in layers. The time had come. Some District funds and projects were set aside in order to provide enough deferred maintenance funds to “renew” the Regional Indian Museum, with an uplifted spirit and a new roof, new floor-to-ceiling windows and new automatically opening doors.
What an amazing renewal. The building is still an architectural wonder, looking refreshed and contemporary. We invite you to drop by for the view, with a guided museum tour if you wish.