It was once an upscale department store and later a notorious nightclub.

But after the latest rebranding, the brick creekside building on Foothill Boulevard will be the largest museum and cultural space between Oakland and San Jose.

On Tuesday, concrete dust and incessant pounding were on tap as crews continued to build a three-story elevator shaft at the 1950s-era Joseph Magnin store, most recently known as the Kumbala Restaurant and Bakery, a dance space known for attracting more than its share of attention from police because of rowdy clientele.

But the construction chaos won't remain for long, according to Hayward Area Historical Society director Myron Freedman, who said the first exhibit is expected to open around October.

"Your Story" will feature vignettes of everyday life that were submitted by residents throughout the region covered by the historical society: Hayward, Castro Valley, Cherryland, Fairview and San Lorenzo.

It includes tales of piglet races, paper sailboats on doomed voyages into storm drains, and girls modeling handmade crepe-paper dresses high on the hill above where Bret Harte Middle School would one day be built. "A lot of the things that kids used to do before there were video games," said museum curator Diane Curry, who said it's a lot of little stories, each one important.

"You look at them all together, and you have the history of an area," she said. "They paint a picture, and it makes it very personal."


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Freedman showed a diorama of the planned finished space, with one section dedicated to a children's museum, another for the in-house exhibits, and additional room for the traveling displays the museum used to get at its Main Street museum.

But the new spot has much more to offer -- 20,000 square feet vs. 6,000. The museum has also partnered with the Hayward Arts Commission, which has moved into one of the building's storefronts and has a grand opening scheduled next month.

In addition, a cafe is in the works, as is a research center on the top floor, and down the line, a rooftop garden.

Freedman said the new space was critical to the society's growing collection, which they've been gathering for more than 50 years and was forcing them out of their old digs.

"We continue to collect and preserve material and stories and interpret it for the community," he said. "And interest has continued to grow with it."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. Read his blog at IBAbuzz.com/hayword.