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July 11, 2006 > Shinn House Ice Cream Social

Shinn House Ice Cream Social

by Janet Grant

Bowler hats and parasols will be the order of the day at Fremont’s historic Shinn House as visitors gather to attend the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation’s (MPHF) annual Victorian Ice Cream Social. A Fremont treasure nearly hidden among residential homes and businesses along busy Peralta Boulevard, Shinn House offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century, a cocoon of tranquility amidst busy boulevards filled with traffic.  Nestled among the lush trees and manicured lawns of Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum sits the 1876 ranch house built by James and Lucy Shinn. Stroll the grounds and feel time slowing down. Throw in an old fashioned Victorian Ice Cream Social and you have stepped into history.

The social will be held on Sunday, July 16 to benefit MPHF and everyone is invited to attend. Originally formed by Dr. Robert Fisher, the Foundation coordinates efforts among concerned citizens to preserve the historical resources representing the heritage of Washington Township. It was through Dr. Fisher’s efforts that the Foundation assisted the Shinn family in donating their home, surrounding gardens and farm buildings to the City of Fremont in 1962. Shinn House opened in 1976, a Bicentennial Year accomplishment for the foundation.

In the Victorian-style farmhouse you’ll find a treasury of authentic furnishings and memorabilia. There’s also a cottage, one of the oldest frame houses in the Santa Clara Valley. Built in 1852, it was later relocated from the gravel banks of the Alameda Creek in what is now Niles Community Park. The 4-1/2 acres of park surrounding the house hosts many exotic trees and rare plants imported by Shinn, a pioneer in the nursery business. A charming, walled Japanese garden on the grounds also draws many visitors. Adding to the historic setting, several buildings from the Santos property

Shinn House was also home to James and Lucy Shinn’s surviving children, all pioneers in their respective fields and important contributors to the history of California. Charles Howard Shinn was an early conservationist and first superintendent of Yosemite National Park, Dr. Millicent Washburn Shinn, the first female doctoral graduate of University of California at Berkeley, author, and pioneer child psychologist, and Joseph Clark Shinn, horticulturist, community leader, and first president of the Alameda County Water District.

On Sunday, step back in time, buy a hotdog and sundae, and tour the Shinn House at the Victorian Ice Cream Social at the old Shinn family homestead. Model A’s, courtesy of the Acorn A’s will line the walkways and “Gunfighters of the Old West” will add a decidedly western flavor to the event. There may even be an altercation or two between grizzled, gun-toting interlopers while crashing the staid atmosphere of this Victorian Social occasion.

Victorian Ice Cream Social
Sunday, July 16
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum
1251 Peralta Blvd., Fremont

For more information call (510) 656-7702 or email:

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