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December 5, 2017 > Shin House, an old fashion Christmas

Shin House, an old fashion Christmas

Submitted By Al Minard

William Sim (who called himself "Captain") and his wife Eliza, sold 250 acres of their Ex-Mission San Jose land to Dr. Joseph Clark in 1856. In 1860, Dr. Clark sold the ranch to James and Lucy Shinn (Dr. Clark's sister). The Shinn's, in partnership with Dr. Clark, started one of the first plant nurseries in California, importing rare trees and plants from the Far East and other parts of the world. Some of these specimens remain in the gardens today.

Construction of the "Big House" started in 1865 and was completed in 1876. It is a rare Victorian Farm Style with Bavarian influence. James and Lucy Shinn produced seven children but only four survived to adulthood, Charles, Annie, Milicent and Joseph. Charles Howard Shinn became a noted author and historian, and was the first Forest Supervisor of the Sierra National Forest. Milicent Washburn Shinn, Ph.D., was editor of the Overland Monthly, author of ÒBiography of a BabyÓ (still required reading in many college child psychology classes) and the very first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Annie died of diphtheria in 1878 at the age of 22 while attending U.C. Berkeley.

Joseph Clark Shinn was a horticulturist, nurseryman, orchardist and quarry operator, among the most respected leaders in the community. By 1910, Joseph was actively working to form a publicly owned water district and was instrumental, along with William Patterson (of Ardenwood Ranch), to persuade the state legislature to pass the County Water District Act of 1913. In April 1914, local citizens elected a five-member board for the Alameda County Water District (ACWD) and Joseph Shinn was named President of the Board. He served as a director for 28 years, from 1914 through 1942. Joseph was active in many other community affairs, too including serving as trustee and president of the Washington Union School District. Joseph, along with his brother Charles and John Muir, were founding members of the Sierra Club.

The City of Fremont, in 1962, accepted the gift of a 4.5-acre portion of the Historic Shinn Ranch from Florence Shinn with approval of her children. Visit the Shinn House in its Christmas attire and hear the rest of the Shinn family story from knowledgeable docents this holiday season.

Shinn House Christmas
Friday, Dec. 8
7 p.m. Ð 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10
Noon -- 4 p.m.
1251 Peralta Blvd., Fremont
$5 adults; $2.50 for children ages 7 to 12
Children 6 and younger admitted free

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