A GLIMPSE INTO OUR HISTORY
The Discovery Center is rooted in generosity. Funds were donated to the City of Fresno by Frank Reedy to purchase land, previously owned by the Roessler family, in order to provide for the creation of a green space or city park for the “children of Fresno.” This area was named Reedy Park in honor of Frank Reedy's generous donation. Reedy Park and The Fresno Jr. Museum of Science and Natural History were then established on the site in 1954. The Fresno Discovery Center has a rich and extensive history, while remaining a top destination for school visit field trips.
In recent years, the Fresno Discovery Center has provided a myriad of educational programming opportunities for schools throughout the Central Valley, from as far south as Bakersfield and as far north as Stockton. The Center is currently reaching over 12,000 school children through school field trips alone. The Discovery Center serves over 26,000 visitors and members annually.
Our property includes the beautiful Deutsch Cactus Garden, a hibernating tortoise compound and lots of space for kids to run, and have lunch with their families. And if you ask any of our employees for a closer encounter, we would be delighted!
Questions, Concerns and Volunteers & Donations gladly welcomed!
Hope to see you soon!
From all of us at The Discovery Center!
1892– F.M. Roessler founds Estella Blanca Vineyards. The winery building may be the oldest
and largest Adobe building still standing in the Fresno Area. The adobe bricks were made on land the current airport is now on.
1920-1933– Prohibition closes the winery.
1923– The 1920’s Craftsman home was built. This location is where the current administrative office resides, located at 1937 N. Winery Avenue (across Winery Avenue from the main museum property). It was owned by the Roessler family who also built the main large building that is currently the Valley Dream Center, south of the Administrative Building, on the corner of Winery Avenue and University. The Dream Center was the main house, the administrative office building was the mother-in-law property.
1940’s– Money donated to the City of Fresno by Frank Reedy to purchase land to
create a City Park for the “children of Fresno.” Named Reedy Park.
1954– The Fresno Jr. Museum of Science and Natural History was established on the site, by two biology teachers Robert Winter and Elroy Robinson from Fresno City College, next to the winery building. Classes were taught on the natural sciences and history, the park was open to the public and had, on display, artifacts and animals, such as bears, snakes, reptiles, birds. Origins of the original cactus garden created on site in the mid 60’s? The Deutsch Cactus Garden created in 1995 as a world class cactus garden.
July 1968– 501(c)3 Non-profit status for the organization was secured.
1979– The Women’s Junior League helped transform the complex into The Discovery Center, renamed due to the curating of educational classes, exhibit displays as well as live animal exhibits.
1991– The Gemini space capsule was lent to the Discovery Center, from Pine Crest Elementary. It was used by NASA for demonstration and promotional purposes after being used to test seat injection techniques.
1995– The Deutsch Cactus Garden was bequeathed and moved from the Deutsch Van Ness Estate to the Discovery Center. The Garden of the Sun, a Master Gardener’s Outreach Program through the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was allowed an acre to develop by the City of Fresno. Their lease with the City of Fresno expires in 2020.
2001–Fire damaged the Discovery Center’s museum. Most exhibits and historical items were rescued and put in storage. All of the public programs in existence moved to other buildings on the property at both 1944 N. Winery Avenue as well as at 1937 N. Winery Avenue.
2001– The Discovery Center continued delivering Science and programs with existing buildings and
the new administration building across the street, through field trips and outreach, birthday parties, Starlab presentations, children’s school field trip visits, and special events, such as astronomical star parties in partnership with the Central Valley Astronomers, as well as special holiday-based events.
June 2011– A new 40 + 5 year lease was signed with the City of Fresno and a marketing plan to enable the refurbishing of the museum is launched.
June 2012– Refurbishing of the museum is near completion and plans opening by Spring of 2013.
March 28, 2013– Discovery Center holds a Grand Re-Opening celebration after completion of museum refurbishing. Elementary schools from around the valley come to The Discovery Center to learn about animals, geology, physics and more. Valley children come with their parents to tour the museum and engage in interactive learning, while having fun in a semi-unstructured environment.
2018– Name rebranded to the Fresno Discovery Center.
December 2018– Unveiled a new plan for the future of the Fresno Discovery Center, including an expansion through two buildings for an Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum.