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December 4, 2012 > History: Houses by the side of the Road

History: Houses by the side of the Road

Historian William Halley wrote in 1876 that the residences of Mr. Dyer, Mrs. Blacow, Supervisor Overacker and several others were very creditable to the farming community." He also noted that there were some fine homesteads on the road from Niles to the Mission (now Mission Boulevard).

The Historical Atlas of Alameda County published by Thompson and West in 1878 displays a variety of lithographs of building styles in the Victorian era. The more elegant dwellings are emphasized because subscribers paid to have their properties pictured in the atlas. Simple adobes of the Spanish-Mexican period are shown only in the distance, and the few pioneer cabins are shown as sheds on farms. Few of the typical "round the horn" pre-cut package houses are included, probably because they are less showy than the larger Victorians.

Elegant houses pictured included ones owned by Mrs. Robert Blacow, G. M. Walters, H. Crowell, G. W. Patterson, Howard Overacker, Captain C. Valpey, George Emerson, M. J. Overacker and John Lowrie. A total of over 25 Washington Township houses were shown.

Stuart Guedon and Dr. Robert B. Fisher noted when they wrote the 1976 Preface to the Bicentennial Edition that the Patterson, Bunting and M. J. Overacker houses were the only ones left. Now the Patterson house is the sole survivor, but there are a few special houses that were not pictured in the atlas.

The 1898 Special Edition of the Washington Press features the residence of Josiah W. Stanford at Warm Springs. The house is partly hidden by the lush garden and the picturesque water fountain filled with rare water lilies.

The paper also shows a front view of Ardenwood, the home of Mrs. G. W. Patterson, which the author describes as "a handsome, attractive structure with broad verandas massive architecture and general air of grandeur." At this time the Patterson ranch consisted of 4,155 acres.

Two pages were devoted to the story of the Linda Vista vineyard, farm and winery. The home is described as the handsome residence of Mr. C. C. McIver, "a model country home, surrounded with all the conveniences possible to make life worth living." Other houses pictured included that of S. Salz, Eli Dennison, S. B. Vandervoort, E. A. Babb, Dr. H. W. Emerson, J. E. Jacobus, A. B. Montross, A. O. Rib, James Fair, James Stanley, G. E. Chittenden, L. E. Osgood, J. Mowry, Mrs. D. Mowry, Martin Carter, E. Whipple, Mrs. Loring Pickering, E. H. Dyer and the two Ellsworth houses.

Authors of the History of Washington Township, 1904 only included pictures of the house of Howard Overacker and John Horner and added the T. P. Harvey house in the 1950 edition. They noted that housing had always been a major problem but mentioned that the sons of George Patterson "had handsome and substantial dwellings on the homestead." The authors also related that many of the old homes around Centerville were still owned by families of the pioneers. They referred to the "pretty cottage" of supervisor Fred Horner and the pleasant homes of John Mattos, Sr. and the honorable John Mattos, Jr.

The 1910 Advancement Edition of the Township Register pictured a few homes that have already been mentioned plus those of J.T. Fonte and O. E. Walpert in Niles.

The 1947 Sesquicentennial Edition of The Washington News is mostly about business establishments, but it also features photos and information on tract homes including Harry Stevenson's development at the north entrance to Irvington. Suburban Homes, Inc. was building tract homes on Thornton and Pine Streets in the Hansen Tract in Centerville. Charles Wauhab was agent for those that were being offered to GIs and civilians.

Gordon and Art Cotton of Newark were selling homes "as fast as they were built." Their court in Newark was pictured in the edition, but they also built in other parts of the township.

The Claude T. Lindsay Co. was constructing 50 homes on their Lindsay Gardens tract in Newark. They were F. H. A. financed with prices of $7975 for two bedrooms and $8450 for three bedrooms. Twenty-three were sold in the tract before even one home was started. K. P. Suhnel had put up six homes on the modern new street of Santos Road in 1946. Mr. Suhnel was the contractor and builder and his wife the secretary and record keeper. The painting and decorating work was done by Dan Lanotti. Several prominent people including school instructors purchased on Mount Vernon Avenue. Suhnel lived in his own newly built home on Santos Road.

The First Thirty years, published in 1989, details the history of growth in the City of Fremont. It contains a photo of the residence built as a result of building permit number one. It also gives credit to Glenmoor Homes for starting the post war movement to urbanize Centerville.

As subdivisions and apartments complexes were being developed, historic buildings were being demolished. It was noted that by the 1970's about 50% of the buildings originally designated as worthy of preservation because they were part of the heritage of the city had been destroyed. A few structures were saved by the historic efforts of individuals and concerned organizations.

Much of the recent news about homes has been dominated by the efforts of cities to provide affordable housing as required by the State of California. Residents of mobile homes have been struggling to combat rising rental fees, and efforts to provide shelter for the homeless are a constant challenge. It will take the combined efforts of government and citizens to meet these needs in future years.

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