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A Little "Art History Mystery" in Morgan Hill

In 1884, a Missouri man named Hiram Morgan Hill built a charming Queen Anne home for his beautiful bride Diana Murphy Hill on land owned by her family. The Murphy’s immigrated from Ireland in the 1840s to escape persecution by the British, and became one of the most enterprising and philanthropic families in the history of Santa Clara Valley. The home provided the Hills and their friends with the perfect country weekend getaway from city life in San Francisco.

Nearly a century later, an artist was inspired (or commissioned) to capture what had come to be known informally as the “Morgan Hill House” in an oil painting, which was dated November 22, 1982.

A decade later, the House was falling apart. Title was transferred from the City of Morgan Hill to the Morgan Hill Historical Society (1993) with the Society’s commitment to renovate and re-open it to the community in 1998. The all-volunteer Historical Society fulfilled this commitment. Today, the House’s official name is Hiram Morgan Hill House. It’s part of Villa Mira Monte, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is under the stewardship of the Morgan Hill Historical Society.

Over the years, this painting not only survived, but found its way back to the iconic house where it now hangs in the main room. While the painting is signed on front and back, the signature is difficult to decipher with any degree of certainty.

Help us solve this “art history mystery” so we can properly acknowledge the artist! If you have information on the artist’s identity, we want to hear from you!

Respond here on social media or email Kathy Sullivan at

Meanwhile, learn more about the Morgan Hill Historical Society and its contribution to the community during its 50th Anniversary Historic Weekend Celebration, September 11th and 12th.


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