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February 15, 2011 > History: Centerville Book

History: Centerville Book

The latest book on Centerville has been released by Arcadia Publishing Company as part of their "Images of America" series that celebrates the history of American towns, cities and neighborhoods. Authors Jill M. Singleton and Philip Holmes also wrote popular "Images of America" volumes about Niles, Fremont, and Irvington, Fremont. This new book is entitled simply Centerville, Fremont.

Centerville is one of the former towns that united to form the modern City of Fremont. It started out as a junction of roads that led from Mission San Jose to San Francisco Bay. A small cluster of buildings anchored by John Horner's schoolhouse and church became a center of activity during the agricultural gold rush. The area around the town center soon became covered by fields of grain. Plantings of fruit trees along Alameda Creek expanded and Centerville became a center for the fruit industry; the apricot reigned supreme.

In 1868 Centerville was described as "a collection of wooden false-front facades facing a street that was mud in winter and dust in summer." By 1878 Centerville had become a town of substance and an agricultural supply center that became the main source of dried apricots for Alameda County by 1900.

The Centerville Athletic Club opened as the only incorporated organization of its kind in Washington Township. More changes came to Centerville. Washington High School opened on the present Peralta Avenue. A horse car railroad came from Newark and was replaced by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1909. In 1910, Centerville was described as a town that was "noticeable for its perfect cleanness, well built stores, comfortable residences and tree-bordered streets." Credit was given to residents who had made it what it was. It had a bank and a wide variety of business interests that made it "the hub of Washington Township." Booth Cannery came to Centerville in 1922, followed by the William's brothers vegetable packing warehouses. Washington High School moved to a new campus on Main Street.

Changes came rapidly after World War II. Center Theater opened in 1946. Throngs of people came looking for houses and subdivisions which changed the landscape. More automobile agencies were built on Main Street and Centerville became the auto center for dealers and repairs in Washington Township. Centerville became part of the City of Fremont in 1956. Main Street, also known as Old Highway 17, became Fremont Boulevard, and the road to Niles was changed to Peralta Avenue.

The Hub Shopping Center opened in 1961 and the City of Fremont launched the long, tortuous process of establishing a central business district. The little town of Centerville, once known as "Hub City," has struggled at times to prosper and develop as part of the modern City of Fremont.

The book is divided into six chapters:

The first is entitled "Go West Young Man", and briefly reviews the years 1840 - 1879, the beginning of the town of Centerville.

The second, "Salt of the Earth," 1880-1889, pictures some of the events and activities of the time and introduces a few important people, farming and business activities.

The 20 years from 1898 to 1919 are covered in the third chapter entitled "All the World's a Stage." This chapter includes parades, schools, sports, business and Sycamore Farm.

The fourth chapter is entitled "Tennis, Anyone?" The first picture is about Helen Wills and tennis, but many photos are of Booth Cannery, Cloverdale Creamery, farming and sports.

The next chapter covers the period 1940 -1959 and is called "Fruits of the Earth. Photographs are reminders of the people and activities of this era.

Chapter five, "Fields of Play, 1960-2010," brings this story of Centerville up to date and also includes a few photos from previous years. This section reminds us of some events, celebrations and people in the development of the City of Fremont. It will call to mind the planning, dedication and struggle required to develop our modern city.

All books in Arcadia's "Image of America" series have 128 pages so they are easy to carry. The Centerville book has over 230 pictures in those 128 pages.

The public is invited to the following book signings:

Saturday, Feb 19: Centerville Train Depot, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Saturday, Mar 5: Fremont Main Library, 10 a.m. - 12 noon
Monday, Mar 28: Museum of Local History, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (Washington Township Historical Society event)

Centerville, Fremont can be purchased at the Museum of Local History (190 Anza Street, Fremont) Wednesdays and Fridays 10-4 p.m. All proceeds from book sales that benefit Museum partner shops and the authors will go directly to the Museum.

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