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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Getting National Historic Register recognition

By Barry Schrader.................................February 23, 2006

Dublin recently joined the other cities in the Tri-Valley plus Tracy in getting two of its most significant historic sites added to the National Register of Historic Places. The side-by-side landmarks are the Old St. Raymond’s Church and Pioneer Cemetery on Donlon Way.

Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart explained to me that it is not only an honor but may have some financial benefits as well. She said it will make it easier to apply for federal grants for restoration and maintenance. The 150-year-old Murray School, now the city’s museum, falls into a different category since it has been moved from its original site, but she thinks that is worth pursuing as well.

Looking at the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places website it is curious that a smaller community like Tracy has six registered sites, while Livermore has three and Pleasanton only two. Sunol ranks right up there with the bigger towns with two of its own. In Contra Costa County, San Ramon claims one and Danville two.

It should be pointed out though that some historical locations are already designated State Historic Landmarks, like three winery sites outside Livermore and the long-neglected Alviso Adobe outside P-town. It was exciting to hear that the Pleasanton city council put the adobe on their priority funding list at their Tuesday night meeting.

Let’s take a closer look at the National Register listings. Tracy takes the prize by having six—the old Bank of Italy at 628 Central Avenue, the Bank of Tracy at 801 Central Avenue, the John Ohm house at 31524 Kasson Road, the Tracy City Hall and Jail at 25 W. Seventh Street, the Tracy Inn at 24 W. Eleventh, and the West Side Bank at 47 W. Sixth Street.

Then let’s credit Sunol next for having two in their tiny hamlet, up Kilkare Road outside of town. The estate of the old riverboat captain Henry Ellis, now known as Elliston Winery, was built between 1885 and 1890. I have fond memories of that stone mansion in the 1980s, a hundred years later, when Ray and Amy Awtrey turned it into a beautiful antique-filled home and hosted many a fine dinner party there for wine lovers and even the Alameda County board. Sunol also has the Thomas Foxwell Bachelder barn at 1011 Kilkare Road, a stone building constructed in 1888 by a Maine lawyer who bought 2,100 acres of land in the area. Unfortunately his home is gone, but the historic barn survives, now used as a residence.

Livermore has the highly visible former Bank of Italy at First and South Livermore, now home to the Livermore Independent, the Ravenswood Estate out Arroyo Road which is open to the public weekends with docent tours and one building available for private parties and public events. The third one is the rather obscure D.J. Murphy house at 291 McLeod Street.

Pleasanton has the Kottinger Barn at 200 Ray Street, an adobe structure built in the 1850s just before John Kottinger became the valley’s first Justice of the Peace. He used a corner of his barn as the jail and conducted court in his house, now gone. But the barn survives as a gift shop. I first remember it as a tasting room for the Stony Ridge Winery back in the mid-1980s. Also on the historic register is the Heathcote-MacKenzie House on the county fairgrounds. This early ranch house was the focus of a major battle to save it from destruction 20 years ago and has survived to become the office for our First District County Supervisor as well as work space for the fair staff.

Danville has the most significant National Historic Site in the East Bay, the picturesque Eugene O’Neill house and grounds. It can be toured through an arrangement with the Park Service. The town also has the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at 355 Railroad Avenue now used as the San Ramon Valley Historical Society’s museum.

San Ramon has its Forest Home Farms at 19953 San Ramon Valley Boulevard where you can see some antique farm equipment and learn how farming was done in your grandparents’ day.

Now that the almond trees and daffodils have blossomed, you should be ready for a Spring outing, so make it an historic trek and select a few of the public sites for a visit and study their origin. The local historical societies in each area can help you learn more about these treasures that have been preserved.

***

Now for the latest in the geodetic benchmarks saga. Sandians Joanne Lombardi and Steve Bunn did not give up hunting those little brass disks after finding the initial one at the LLNL South Café lot, but by the end of last week had crawled atop the ridge south of the Sandia firearms training range to uncover another lost disk, the important Tesla Station marker that has two disks directly north and then south of it so surveyors could use it for siting. All three benchmarks were placed there in 1947 when it was still Livermore Naval Air Station property. Now others have told me about disks at the northwest corner of Greenville and East Avenue and even outside the (northwest corner) rollup door of Building 511 inside Lawrence Lab’s secure area. This may never end, so get your own GPS unit, log on to www.geocaching.com and begin a new adventure in your life….

 

The columnist can be reached via email at :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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