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March 18, 2009 > History: Glenmoor Gardens

History: Glenmoor Gardens

Three men - James Meyer, Ralph Cotter and James Reeder - created a vision for a planned community of quality homes that they wanted to develop in the Bay Area. They were building homes in Hayward, and during their search for "a place where people would really enjoy living," James and Lenore Meyer "found" Centerville.

Glenmoor Homes was incorporated in 1951. The owners were James Meyer, real estate developer, president; Ralph Cotter, civil engineer, secretary; and James Reeder, general contractor, treasurer. Robert Reeder was a general contractor and served as superintendent. The vision of the developers was a family-oriented community where most day-to-day living, shopping, medical and entertainment needs could be met.

The first land purchase in the fall of 1951 was 10 acres from Ray Bettencourt on Central Avenue. The company began construction the next spring. They purchased the Eggers Ranch, the South Berkeley Creamery land, and eventually the Norris Estate. Next they acquired the Joe Caldeira and Joe Silva farms west of Blacow Road, and the Brophy Ranch at the corner of Mowry and Blacow. Construction began in the spring of 1952. Johnny and Erna Johnston were the first to move in later that year.

John Cortner became office manager, and Josephine Faulkner, secretary and payroll clerk in 1953. In 1954 Rose Siatt was employed to handle the payroll and other accounts, Ben Silva became construction foreman and Fred Duvall head of engineering. Key foremen who had been with the company since they came to Glenmoor included Ray Milner, Gordon Hausauer and Leonard McCoy. They were given credit for construction sometimes recognized as "The best in the Bay Area." Edward Rodrigues was hired as home designer.

The master plan provided for a school, with Glenmoor School opening in 1955. Also provided were Meyer Park and a shopping center in the middle of the development. Businesses continued to open until the center was complete with about 25 stores. Medical buildings were completed during this time and by 1959 housed the offices of Doctors Henry Avon, Thomas Everenden, J.W. French, Robert Hansen, W. H. Horner, E. L. Jorsgensen, K. E. Romanoff, Charles Ruth, Harold McMillan and Harold Vargas.

The opening of the first Glenmoor Homeowners swimming pool was celebrated July 4, 1958. Each homeowner was a member of the Association which provided the pool, the park, tennis and basketball courts, the children's playground and a golf driving range on Blacow Road. Operated by Chick Faltus, the driving range would later give way to development.

Mattos School opened in 1959 as development around it progressed. That was followed by completion of Alta Park which offered the same services as Meyer Park.

The Homeowners Association offered many activities to help neighbors get acquainted and bring about a sense of community. Many centered in the parks and pools, but included too were educational and social gatherings. The shopping center flourished and became a popular attraction drawing shoppers from outside the area. However, facing competition from other shopping venues, a decline began. After 40 years the center was razed, and by 1999, replaced with homes.

The Glenmoor Companies continue to operate today as an asset management company and oversees company-owned and clients' properties from Morgan Hill to Sacramento. Management continues under the direction of Jim Reeder, Jr., president, Bill Rowe, CFO and founding partner Ralph Cotter, Jr., treasurer.

Homeowners' activity has evolved to meet the needs of members. Many groups exist within the organization-some new, some longstanding. The baby-sitting co-op is now the Glenmoor Play Group. Pool activity is strong with year around swimming now offered to adults. The Stingrays Swim Team belongs to the East Bay Swim League. "Picnic in the Park" was initiated last year by the new Glenmoor Community Group organized to work with the city council and staff and the school board to keep Glenmoor a safe, quality place to live.

The Homeowners Association sponsors three major community-wide activities a year. The first is in the spring with the popular Egg Hunt. The activity concludes with snacks and an opportunity for all to visit with the Easter Bunny.

The annual 4th of July parade welcomes anything with wheels. Appropriately decorated cars, trucks, bicycles, scooters, little red wagons-even lawn mowers-are invited. Costumed marchers include family pets for which there is a prize category. The parade starts at Alta Pool and the fun continues in Alta Park with food, music, pool games and more.

A much anticipated event was the Christmas Outdoor Decorating Contest. However, for some time it had been felt that the 110 foot tall redwood tree in Meyer Park should be decorated. In 1999, "Lights in the Park" replaced the decorating contest and is held annually, complete with Santa and hot chocolate and cookies for everyone.

Children who grew up in Glenmoor have returned to raise their families in the same environment they enjoyed and have them attend the same schools. The vision of those three men is alive and well in Glenmoor.

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