History of the Fiddletown Preservation Society

The Fiddletown Preservation Society (FPS) came into being in 1964 over the issue of saving the Fiddletown Schoolhouse. Because the property had not been used as a school since 1955, the Oro Madre School District intended to put it up for sale. Members of the FPS were concerned that the schoolhouse building would be demolished. Instead, the school district deeded the schoolhouse and property to the new organization later that year. Preservation of the schoolhouse has been a target of the FPS ever since.

In September 1965, the FPS was incorporated by the Secretary of State “to preserve, maintain and restore the historical buildings, records, and relics of Fiddletown . . . as a living museum for the education of the general public in the history of the Fiddletown area.” Earlier that year, the FPS and the Fiddletown Community Club jointly sponsored Fiddletown‘s first Homecoming Barbeque and Picnic to raise funds for the schoolhouse and to honor its alumni and teachers. The day featured a fiddlers‘ contest, the genesis of the annual event that continues to the present.

Since its inception, the FPS has been involved in several preservation projects. The organization succeeded in urging Amador County to acquire the Chinese herb store and gambling hall as historical sites. In 1968, the Chinese herb store (later known as the Chew Kee Store) was dedicated and opened as a museum, maintained and staffed by members of the FPS.

In 1978, eighteen historic sites in Fiddletown, nominated by the FPS, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This followed a long battle in which the Fiddletown Preservation Society actively contested a proposed limestone quarry that would threaten fragile historic structures with vibrations from heavy trucks continuously going through town.

The FPS has saved Fiddletown‘s unique and endangered Chinese structures through grants and fundraising. Preservation work on the Chew Kee Store was completed in 1988. The project received the Governor‘s Historic Preservation Award in 1989. The Fiddletown ROCS (Restoration of Chinese Structures) project was initiated in 2001 after Amador County accepted ownership of the Chinese General Store. In 2008, exterior preservation was accomplished on both the Chinese Gambling Hall and the Chinese General Store. This project received the 2010 Governor‘s Historic Preservation Award.

Currently the Society is restoring the old Oleta Schoolhouse, which is located across the road from the Fiddletown cemetery. The Society has also been awarded a grant for half of the required $406,000 needed to stabilize the Chinese Gambling Hall and Chinese General Store, and is over 30% of the way to raising an additional $100,000 for this project. These buildings are located across the street from the Chew Kee Store, which the Society maintains as a museum.

The Society is also proceeding with the next phase of the ROCs Project, which is to erect a wall of the dedicated bricks in a small park next to the Chinese General Store, and to convene an illustrious committee of historians, museum experts, archeologists and Fiddletown residents to plan further restoration and use of the Chinese Buildings as museums.

Work on Fiddletown‘s historic structures continues, with the goal of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the restored Fiddletown Schoolhouse in 2012. The Chew Kee Store is open for special events and from noon to 4:00 p.m. April through October.

Fiddletown Preservation Society membership welcomes anyone interested in preserving, maintaining and restoring the historical buildings, records and relics of Fiddletown. The Society is a Non-Profit 501(3)c organization, as defined by the state and the IRS, therefore donations are tax deductible in most cases (contact your tax advisor with any questions). If you would like to mail in your donation, please make your check payable to the FPS at P.O. Box 53 Fiddletown, CA 95629. For more information email info@fiddletown.info or phone (209) 296-6045.

Click here for our online membership application and donation form.

You may pay by either check or credit card.