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May 27, 2014 > History Column: Parade of the Past

History Column: Parade of the Past

By Philip Holmes

Thirty of Washington TownshipÕs historic landmarks and old homes were opened to visitors May 20, 1956 as part of a ÒParade of the PastÓ benefit tour sponsored by the Humpty Dumpty Play Center. The dayÕs program included a concert by the Centerville Mother singers in the Shinn gardens, a fashion show at the Vallejo Adobe of gowns worn by local women in the last century and refreshments at the Play Center.

Sites were numbered from one to 33 beginning in Centerville and ending in Warm Springs, but the guests toured in private cars in any pattern they chose. Number 1 was the Burdette Williams residence on Highway 17, now Fremont Boulevard. The house is gone, but part of the carriage house has become the showpiece of Williams Historic Park.

Number 2 was the historic Centerville Church. The Church burned but the steeple survived. Plans were being made in 1956 for a new church which was built on Central Avenue. Number 3 was the St. James Episcopal Church, later moved to its present site on Thornton Avenue. Site number 4 was the Dusterberry home which is still under private ownership. Site number 5 was the home of Judge John Mattos which is gone now. His newer and larger home is on Blacow.

Site number 6 was the Shinn house where guests were welcomed by Mrs. J. C. Shinn and delightful gardens. Site number 7 was the home of the late Judge H. J. Tilden on the east side of Santos Road (Mowry Avenue) but this home burned. Helen Ford had recently died so her home was not on the tour. The Lawrence Bunting home backed the International Kitchen was site number 9. The Buntings were building a large boat in their yard. The nearby lake was a popular swimming hole for residents.

Number 10 was Laura WhippleÕs home at the corner of Fremont Boulevard (Mowry) and Overacker Avenue. Laura had many pieces of pioneer furniture on display. Site number 11 was the Edna Overacker home at the other end of Overacker Avenue. Items displayed by Edna included a gate-leg table that came to California in a covered wagon. The Essanay Studio site was listed as number 12 and the Vallejo Flour Mill number 13 but no information was given.

The Henry Ellsworth home joined by the Essanay Motel was number 14. Today it features a train sculpture. Palms marked the driveway. Signs helped locate number 15, the Blacow home on Blacow road.

Site number 24 marked the Anderson Military Academy grounds on Driscoll Road. The site was closed to the public, but several of the old buildings were still standing. The home of William Y. Horner, across Driscoll Road from the Anderson Academy, was site Number 25. Site number 26 was the Ohlone Indian burial grounds that have been tended and cared for by Philip and Andy Galvan.

The Gallegos home site Number 27 was on the east side of Mission Boulevard near the creek in 1956. The house Òknown as the old ladyÓ was moved up Witherly Lane by Bob Tavares in 1974. PalmdaleÕs Holy Family Novitiate, Number 28, featured the gardens, a cork tree, a curly leaf willow grown from a cutting at NapoleonÕs grave and a row of pear trees.

Site Number 29 marks the remains of the original Mission San Jose. Tours are given by appointment. It is still a remnant of the oldest Spanish site in Alameda County. Site Number 30 was the Derrel Huddleson garden. The garden is gone, but the site would be located at Ohlone College. Carl Roberts garden on part of the old Los Cerritos Winery was site Number 31. Current owners, Chris and Hedy Eyre, made extensive changes to the grounds

The Curtner Adobe, Site Number 32, now known as the Galindo Higuera Adobe, has been restored and tours are given by appointment. Site Number 33, the Weibel Winery, was located by following the sign to Hidden Valley Ranch. Today the site is located by going up Stanford Lane to the Weibel sign, a surviving winery remnant.

Sites numbered from number 18 to 23 were in the Alvarado area. Site number 18 was the McKeon Home on Lowry Road where Joseph McKeonÕs wheel and carriage shop had been. Vallejo Street in Alvarado was number 19 with several original buildings over 100 years old. The Farley Hotel, number 20, opposite the Alvarado Depot was now a rooming house. A gas station had been built at number 21, the Courthouse site. The A. H. Dana house on Whipple Road, number 22, had been modernized but retained the charm and character of the period. The adjoining Harold home, number 23, was built in 1868. Flowering cherry trees were a feature in the garden of both homes. The sites on the Alvarado end of Centerville road had suffered from freeway construction and other developments.

Only two sites were named in Newark; site number 16 (the Caldiera Adobe) and number 17 (Franklin Brown home on Lincoln Road next to the Fair house on Thornton). The City of Newark has established a web site to present their history.

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