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September 24, 2013 > John H. Peterson Farm

John H. Peterson Farm

By Myrla Raymundo

Those driving along Alvarado-Niles Road to Mission Boulevard will see a solitary house on the road leading to Quarry Lakes. Is that home part of Union City or Fremont?

In response to my query, Beth Armstrong provided materials about the home - the John H. Peterson farm - with an address of 35261 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City. On a whim, my husband, Ray, and I strolled by and a nice young couple invited us inside. I was mesmerized. The furniture was old and the kitchen sparse. Three huge bedrooms and two baths were just an addition to the adjacent two-story house.

Reading from BethÕs material written by Mr. Ward Hill of San Francisco, dated February 2, 1992, this farm complex is composed of four buildings Ð a farmhouse, tank house, carport and barn. They are positioned in a grove of mature trees, in contrast to surrounding 30 acres of flat, open land, seasonally planted with flowers by a local grower.

The T-plan house is divided into two sections, a gabled, rectangular plan: a two-story wing on the east, and perpendicular to the two-story section, a single story, gabled wing extending to the west.

John H. Peterson built this house and related farm buildings in 1884 after purchasing a 50-acre parcel from the Jonas Clark Estate in l883. He cultivated l8 acres of apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, sugar beets and grains. The Peterson farm and other Alameda Creek land, originally known as the Niles fruit district, was the earliest area cultivated as commercial orchards in Washington Township.

Born in l845, Peterson immigrated to the United States from Denmark in l866. Originally landing in New York, Peterson came to San Francisco by way of Nicaragua in June, l866. He lived in the Hayward area for a few years then moved to Humboldt County before moving to this property near Alameda Creek. In l872, Peterson married California native, Clara T. Bradford, with whom he had five children.

In the l930Õs, one of PetersonÕs daughters and her husband, whose surname was Trask, lived in the house and maintained the farm.

The State of California, which bought the property in l958 for the Route 84 Realignment Project, rents the property to a local flower grower. Some of the workers and their families live in the house.

The house retains much of its original exterior ornament and form, one of the few surviving farm houses dating from the early years (1880s) of the fruit growing industry in Washington Township. Commercial fruit growing became an important industry that dominated the local agricultural economy until the mid-20th century. The Peterson house is also one of the few farm houses to survive in the Niles district, the house is an outstanding example of an l880s Queen Anne style farm house in Washington Township, a rare example of a large l9th century farmhouse that retains integrity of materials, design and setting.

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