The Ventura branch of the Automobile Club of Southern California is celebrating its 100th birthday at its 1501 S. Victoria Ave. location during the week of May 15-20, with a birthday party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the branch on Saturday, May 20.
“We are proud to have been a part of the Ventura community for 100 years,” said Val Ringor, the Auto Club’s Ventura branch manager. “We encourage members to visit us during our Centennial events to join the celebration and allow us to thank them for their membership.”
The Ventura branch now serves more than 83,000 members in the city and surrounding communities. It offers free DMV vehicle-related services, a full-service travel agency, maps and travel publications, insurance services, discount attraction and movie tickets, and many other member benefits.
Customers who visit the branch Monday, May 15, through Friday, May 19 will receive a commemorative gift while supplies last, and on Saturday, May 20, a mini-car show will be held at the branch with member vehicles and an Auto Club antique vehicle, as well as other historical displays and refreshments.
The Auto Club was founded in Los Angeles in December 1900 by 10 horseless-carriage enthusiasts. When the Ventura branch opened in 1917, it was the tenth Auto Club branch. Today, the Auto Club has 84 branches throughout Southern California, including four in Ventura County.
The Ventura branch has occupied six buildings over the last 100 years:
- Corner of Oak and Main streets downtown, 1917-1918
- 431 California St., 1918-1920
- 811 E. Main St., 1920-1925
- 1229 Main St., 1925-1938 (building was renumbered to 881 E Main St. in 1928 and still stands today)
- 1023 Thompson Blvd., 1938-1974 (still standing today)
- 1501 S. Victoria Ave., 1974-present
A decade before the branch opened in 1917, the Auto Club’s service to the region began when it installed the first directional signs along the county’s roads. As an advocate for improved roads, the Auto Club took part in a community meeting in 1911 that mobilized county residents in favor of a ballot measure for highway bonds that was approved in 1915. While the Auto Club was interested in the completion of the celebrated coast highway through Ventura, its mission of service also included those areas that were not featured in tourist brochures. The Club’s member magazine pointed out that the highway bonds would “serve practically every part of the county and will give means of easy access to many inland points that have been isolated…by a lack of good roads.”
In addition to posting road signs throughout Southern California, the Auto Club initiated and completed the signposting of the National Old Trails route from Kansas City to Los Angeles, much of which became Route 66, the iconic highway of westward movement. The Auto Club has advocated for highway funding and traffic safety measures for all road users over the past century and initiated its signature service of roadside assistance in 1924.
For more information on Auto Club membership and services, visit the Ventura branch or AAA.com. The branch phone number is (805) 477-9010. Branch hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.