Local art, culture, and history are all found at Gilbert, Arizona's HD SOUTH | Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum.
Speaking of history, let’s travel back to 1913. The now known HD SOUTH was then the newly-opened Gilbert Elementary School located at the Southwest corner of West Elliot Road and South Gilbert Road. The school was open for 63 years, closing in 1977. The Gilbert Historical Society leased the building from the Gilbert Public Schools and opened the Museum in 1982. The land and building were bought in 1985 by the Society due to Otto and Edna Neely’s supportive generosity of a sizable donation.
Gilbert Historical & Cultural Pride
At over 100 years old, the HD SOUTH building, which is home to The Gilbert Historical Museum, is Gilbert, Arizona’s oldest standing building. It is also the only building in Gilbert designated in the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum is also the oldest non-profit organization in Gilbert. This history, arts, and cultural inclusive gathering spot is a source of pride for Gilbert’s entire community.
Regarding the cultural aspect of HD SOUTH, due to the generational diversity of Gilbert, the facility implemented the Communities for All Ages model by way of the programs and events offered at the facility. HD SOUTH invites the community’s residents of all generations to grow and learn together from these specially created programs. Formed in 2000, The Communities for All Ages, with its innovative approach, purposely connects diverse age groups in a community and addresses subjects that concern people at all stages of life. Per HD SOUTH: “By adopting the CFAA model, HD SOUTH aims to bring our community together to grow, learn, and play through the arts, culture, programs, and history in one historic location in Gilbert, Arizona.”
Gilbert Source for History Art & Culture
Nearly 35 years passed from the inception of The Gilbert Historical Museum in 2016. The Gilbert Historical Society’s Board of Directors, including President and CEO Kayla Kolar, decided to expand its organizational mission. They voted to transform a part of the building to include a community arts and culture center. The decision came after recognizing the lack of arts and culture in Gilbert. But of course, always preserving and highlighting the history of Gilbert by maintaining the historical Museum as well.
The HD SOUTH namesake, along with the tagline Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum, was officially born in October 2017 by the Society. “HD” stands for the popular, growing Heritage District of Gilbert, and “SOUTH” indicates HD SOUTH’S proximity location just south of Gilbert’s Heritage District. The name now reflects a new expanded community purpose, resource, and locality. Its name fully encompasses Gilbert’s historic preservation, art exhibits, education, cultural events, and intergenerational programs.
Gilbert Historical Museum Exhibits, Gilbert History & Teacher's Corner
The Gilbert Historical Museum, in itself housed in HD SOUTH provides a multitude of fun and educational experiences for individuals, families, school and scout groups alike. Including archives chronicling Gilbert’s history by way of photographs, artifacts, and oral histories.
- Museum Exhibits – Gilbert Home Life, Generations, Farming, School & Community, Town, Military, Model Train, Live Quilting Bee.
- Gilbert History – Early homesteads in 1891, The Town of Gilbert’s namesake William “Bobby” Gilbert, Railroad Roots, “The Hay Shipping Capital of the World”, Gilbert’s Astounding Growth in the early 1980s, Gilbert School District, Little known Gilbert Airport, Gilbert Heritage District History Walk Map.
- Teacher’s Corner – School and Scout group field trips to the Museum. G.I.F.T. (Gilbert’s Interesting Facts and Treasures) trunks bringing Gilbert’s history to life in the classroom or home study with hands-on activities.
A Museum gift shop is also onsite for all your souvenir and “support local” community pride swag needs. The gift shop offers everything “Gilbert, Arizona” from books, historical photo books, Gilbert Water Tower and Gilbert Centennial 1920-2020 T-Shirts, ornaments, coffee mugs, stickers, and notecards and envelope sets.
HD SOUTH Programs & Membership
Community programs focused on history, culture, and art, are at the core of Gilbert, Arizona’s HD SOUTH | Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum. Several of the educational programs are free. Some of the programs require a modest fee to cover the costs of materials. Annual membership opportunities are also available at HD SOUTH. There are many membership levels offered, including multiple options for both Personal and Corporate Membership.
HD SOUTH Programs – Fun, captivating and educational presentations led by experts in their fields, sharing their expertise and skills with the community. Historians, artists, storytellers, scientists, and botanists help people discover and learn the new and old about Gilbert and beyond.
- History – Genealogy Workshops & History Cafes. Presentational lectures on topics like the Arizona railroads, ancient Hohokam people, and the original inhabitants of the Gilbert and Chandler areas.
- Art Workshops – Local artists helping adults and children tap into their creativity with hands-on arts and crafts theme-based activities. Examples of past art workshop events at HD SOUTH include Draw a Dog, Gourd Canteen Workshop, and Chinese Calligraphy.
- Literature – Entertaining storytelling regarding topics such as Sonoran Desert wildlife and ‘olden times’ in Phoenix’s East Valley.
- Science Cafes – Enthralling demonstrations concerning current issues in our lives like new technologies, the environment, sustainable living, and wildlife preservation. A few previous Science Cafe events at HD SOUTH are; Prehistoric Farming in the Southwest, Learn about Arizona Trees that are Beautiful and Edible, and Green Bridges.
- Health and Wellness – Workshops, classes, and lectures focused on health and well being. Weekly yoga, anyone?
- Music – Together, The Arizona Bluegrass Association and local musicians combine to express their love of bluegrass music by jamming and performing to the general public at Gilbert’s HD SOUTH. The music program is always expanding and looking to add topics like musical instrument making and folk music history.
- Live Quilting Bee – Volunteer quilters gather to demonstrate their quilting skills most Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings in the Home Life room at HD SOUTH. The world-class quilters will even help with or finish off your unfinished quilting project for a small fee.
HD SOUTH Memberships – Varying annual prices, multiple options.
- Personal Membership – Individual, Family, Sustaining, Patron
- Corporate Membership – Community Partner, Ambassador, Executive
HD SOUTH Events & Facility Rental
Events – HD SOUTH | Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum is a vital Town of Gilbert, AZ historic landmark. It has also been a cultural community foundation for decades, hosting many Gilbert centric events throughout the year.
- A Night at the Museum – Annual museum fundraising event and gala.
- Gilbert Visual Art League Shows – Semi-annual community art show held in Gallery4 featuring GVAL Fine Art Show and Juried Show.
- The Art of Quilting Show – Varying styles of quilts displayed and made by community members of the American Quilt Study Group.
- Memorial Day Service – Ceremony held on the front lawn, national armed forces monument honoring Gilbert residents who have served, hosted by the Gilbert Historical Society and American Legion Post 39.
- Breakfast with Santa – During the holidays, kids of all ages meet and have breakfast with Santa.
Facility Rentals – HD SOUTH near Gilbert, Arizona’s Heritage District, offers several indoor and outdoor spaces to rent at competitive rates for meetings, parties, weddings, ceremonies, receptions, memorial services, and the like. Paid guided tours of the Museum are also available. Pricing for the following rooms, outdoor areas, and tours found at hdsouth.org. Different prices apply to non-profits, size of group or party, and if the event includes the use of alcohol.
- Neely Community Room
- Outside Courtyard includes Ramada
- Outside Ramada Only
- Ramada with Neely Community Room
- Front Lawn – Wedding Ceremonies & Memorial Services Only, No Events
- AV Equipment
- Fully Equipped Kitchen, Tables, Chairs, Podium
- Guided Tour of Museum – Availability During & After Museum Hours
Volunteer & Donate
There are many ways for all walks of life to contribute to the local causes of HD SOUTH and The Gilbert Historical Museum via volunteering and donating. Every support effort from the community is vital to the success of HD SOUTH’S programs and events.
Volunteer – Donate Your Time
- General Volunteer Opportunities – Front Desk, Collections, Program, Outreach, and Office
- Committees/Professional Volunteer Opportunities – Program, Finance, Marketing, Gala Event and Breakfast with Santa Event
Donate – Every Donation Helps
- Monthly Donation
- One Time Donation
- Planned Gifts
- Memorials & Tributes
- Building Communities for All Ages Campaign
Gilbert Historical Society's Vision, Mission & Values
The Gilbert Historical Society housed and operated at HD SOUTH expresses a core vision, mission, and values.
- Vision – “Communities where all generations know, trust, and care for one another.”
- Mission – “Gilbert Historical Society is the vibrant cornerstone of an intergenerational community that celebrates the past, inspires unity of all people, and cultivates life-enriching collaboration.”
- Values – “Stewards of history, Inclusive of all people, Bridging generations, Catalyst for connection.”
If you’ve never visited HD SOUTH Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum, maybe it’s time to explore this centrally-located site in Gilbert, AZ. Whether you’re looking to learn, create, explore, or volunteer, HD SOUTH has much to offer its patrons. Discover the Gilbert community’s history, art, and culture at HD SOUTH | Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum.
HD SOUTH | Home of The Gilbert Historical Museum
10 S Gilbert Rd
Gilber, AZ 85296
PO Box 1484
Gilbert, AZ 85299