McConaghy House and Family HIstory


Neal McConaghy was born in 1828 in Antrim County, Ireland to Scottish parents. Neal arrived in America from Scotland in 1848, first settling in the Philadelphia area for several years. Stories of a rush for gold in California lured Neal west in 1853 to seek his fortune. Upon arriving in San Francisco, Neal spent a brief time in San Lorenzo before heading to gold country.

In 1858 Neal McConaghy returned to San Lorenzo. He first worked as a ranch hand and then as a farmer. Neal saved enough money to rent some land of his own, upon which he constructed a gristmill. Both the land and mill were profitable.

Using the profits from his land and mill, Neal purchased 197 acres of San Lorenzo land and built his first house at the foot of Grant Avenue in 1865. During that same year, Neal married Sara McCaw, who was also from Antrim County, Ireland. The McConaghys lived in the home on Grant Avenue for over two decades. At that home a daughter and four sons were born.

In 1882, Neal purchased a parcel of land along Hesperian Boulevard (formerly known as Telegraph Road), near Bockman Road. A few years later, in 1888 he had a new, large home built for his family.  When the McConaghy family moved into the new house, John, the youngest son, was 17 years old. John, who lived to be 100 years old, remained in the house for the rest of his life. One of the most remarkable aspects about the McConaghy House is that it was owned and occupied by the same family from 1888 to 1972, or over 84 years!


In his will, John McConaghy will the house to the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children. Soon after his death, a hearing notice was posted, alerting the community of plans to rezone the 2.47 acre residential property for retail business, meaning the 84 year old house would be torn down.  Nearby residents did not want to see this happen and quickly formed a committee of concerned San Lorenzo residents. The committee contacted several service organizations to adopt a resolution of save the McConaghy House.

The Hayward Area Recreation Department, who was also opposed to commercial development, purchased the McConaghy House from the Shriners on July 30, 1973. The Hayward Area Historical Society (HAHS) was given the responsibility of restoring the McConaghy House into the house museum we know today.  In July 1976 the McConaghy House was finally ready to open its doors for docent tours, thanks to the help of many individuals and community organizations.