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July 2, 2008 > Reconstructed and Relocated: the Leal Water Tank House

Reconstructed and Relocated: the Leal Water Tank House

By Brittney Hansen
Photos By Al Minard

Water tanks can come in all forms, shapes, and sizes. From small earthen vessels to large wooden tank houses, the need for fresh, readily available water goes back as far as the first human civilizations. The Leal family farm in Fremont was no exception, and it needed a reliable tank house to store fresh water before modern plumbing and irrigation was common. Constructed in the 1920s, the tank house provided the farm with fresh water that was ready and convenient. Once most of the farm was sold in 1996 however, instead of being torn down and thrown away, the water tank house was given another, more glamorous job, as the Water Museum at the Ardenwood Historic Farm.

In 1996, thanks to the valiant efforts initiated by local Rotarian Charles "Skip" Domville and members of the Mission San Jose Rotary Club, as well as the many volunteers who donated time and money and information, the Leal Tank house was relocated to Ardenwood Historic Farm, where it underwent reconstruction and restoration. This year it was completed, and dedicated by the local Rotarians. The first floor of the tank house is a museum with exhibit panels for visitors to read, as well as a list of the generous individuals who helped make the project possible.

Both the Alameda County Water District (ACWD) and the Union Sanitary District (USD) donated funds to the effort, and Frank Jahn, Senior Public Information Representative at ACWD, was involved in writing the information for exhibit panels at the water museum. "I was employed as a naturalist at Ardenwood from 1985 to 1993," said Jahn, "so I was asked to do some of the writing for the exhibit because of my knowledge of the history of the area and of ACWD."

From lumber, supplies, and use of equipment donated by various local companies, to the historical information and manpower offered by Fremont residents, the water museum would not have been possible without the generosity of so many individuals who saw the potential in an old water tank house. Because of their expertise and insight, the Leal Tank House and Water Museum was created, where it can tell its story to many generations to come.

For more information about the Water Museum and the rest of the exhibits on the Ardenwood Historic Farm, call the East Bay Parks number (888) 327-2757, or visit

Leal Tank House and Water Museum
Tuesday - Sunday
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(888) 327-2757

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