Campbell Soup plant built on former ranch of Southside area resident

As the years pass by, the memories of certain people of prominence also fade. And such is the case of Joseph Holmes, whose sale of his ranch at 47th Avenue and Franklin Boulevard led to the establishment of the West Coast plant of the Campbell Soup Co.
Holmes, who resided a short distance from Southside Park, at 1008 W St., at the time of the sale of that property, is far from a household name today.
But during his lifetime, Holmes built a notoriety that extended beyond his connection to the establishment of the local Campbell plant in this city.
Holmes was also one of the original founders of the Farmers Mutual Insurance Co., master of the California State Grange from 1913 to 1916, and a member of Sacramento Lodge No. 40 of the Free and Accepted Masons.
With the insurance company, Holmes was one of its directors and served as its secretary from 1904 to 1938.
Born in England in 1858, Holmes immigrated to America 12 years later, at which time he began working at a woolen mill in Cornwall, N.Y.
When Holmes was 20 years old, he came to Sacramento and found employment at a ranch on property that would later become home to the St. Patrick’s Orphanage (later known as St. Patrick’s Home for Children) at the south end of Franklin Boulevard.
On Nov. 2, 1887, Holmes married Carrie Rosanna Rich in the Rich family’s home at the then renowned Lemon Hill Farm, which was located a short distance from the then-future Campbell Soup site. Together, the couple had three sons and two daughters.
Holmes died in his Southside area home on Aug. 3, 1946, about 11 months after selling his ranch to the soup firm. At that time, he had 21 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Following his services on Aug. 6, 1946, Holmes was buried in the Land Park area’s Masonic Lawn Cemetery on Riverside Boulevard, just south of Broadway.
Although Campbell Soup would later acquire additional property for its Sacramento plant, it was the company’s purchase of Holmes’ property that made possible the establishment of the local Campbell plant, which opened in 1947.
Campbell’s interest in establishing a West Coast plant in Sacramento dates back to 1945, when the company was operating two plants, the original plant in Camden, N.J. and another plant in Chicago.
By June 1946, Campbell’s Sacramento soup plant was under construction, and about a month later, plans were being made to open a portion of the plant for the 1947 season.
In January 1947, Campbell Soup finally obtained its formal building permit for its plant. The plant was previously being constructed under a verbal permit, since the cost of the project had yet to be determined.
Included in an article about local canneries in The Sacramento Bee’s Sept. 1, 1948 edition are the following words about the Campbell’s plant: “This year an additional food cannery is operating (in Sacramento). The $8,000,000 Campbell Soup Company plant at Forty-Seventh Avenue and Franklin Boulevard, completed last year, will complete its first full year of processing, thereby increasing the number of cases of canned foods produced here.
“It is estimated that this year the Campbell Soup Company will employ in the neighborhood of 1,000 persons.”
For decades, the local Campbell Soup plant was an institution that provided employment for many Sacramento area residents.
The Bee, in its Sept. 3, 1989 edition, mentions that the Sacramento Campbell plant was then generating a payroll of $49 million.
In a front page article in The Bee’s May 30, 1992 edition, it was reported that Campbell Soup was contemplating the possibility of whether to expand at its Franklin Boulevard site or, as a last resort, relocate to another city.
The article also mentions that “no decision (would) likely be made for at least 18 months.”
At that time, Campbell made soups, Prego tomato sauce, V8 tomato juice and Franco-American Spaghetti-Os.
An earlier article in the Sept. 14, 1986 edition of The Bee notes: “Over the years, Campbell gobbled up other food companies and it now owns a multitude of labels, including Swanson, Prego, Mrs. Paul’s, Pepperidge Farm, V8, Snow King and others.”
The same article recognizes that Campbell Soup was then processing tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes and other ingredients for its soups and sauces.
Campbell announced on Jan. 18, 1994 that it would undergo a $57 million expansion at its then-136-acre Sacramento plant.
Regarding that proposed expansion, which would have a major increase in its price, The Bee, in its Sept. 25, 1996 edition, mentions the following: “Negotiations hit an impasse in 1994 over the company’s demand that local government simply come up with $34.5 million, representing about 10 percent of the cost of a proposed $345 million expansion of the soup plant.”
On Sept. 27, 2012, Campbell announced that it would be closing its Sacramento plant.
At the time of that announcement, the Sacramento plant was the company’s oldest plant.
An article in the Sept. 27, 2012 edition of the Sacramento Business Journal mentions that the company planned to close the plant in phases, with the overall intention of obtaining a complete closure by July 2013.
Plant worker Dave Martin was quoted in the Sept. 28, 2012 edition of The Bee as saying that signs of the local plant’s struggles had been evident for months, and that managers of the company had been complaining about declining soup sales and increased production costs.
Furthermore, the Sept. 27, 2012 Bee article notes: “Campbell’s has been losing market share as consumers drift away from canned soup.”
The closure of the local Campbell plant resulted in the loss of about 700 full-time jobs and the demise of one of the longtime successful institutions of the capital city.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Elks building in the Pocket dates back to the 1970s

The Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 building at 6446 Riverside Blvd. is shown following its completion in the late 1970s. / Photo courtesy of Elks Lodge No. 6
The Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 building at 6446 Riverside Blvd. is shown following its completion in the late 1970s. / Photo courtesy of Elks Lodge No. 6

The Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 building at 6446 Riverside Blvd. is one of the grand landmarks of the Pocket area.
Many longtime Sacramentans recall that the local Elks previously maintained their headquarters in an even grander landmark – the 226-foot-tall, brick and steel building at the northeast corner of 11th and J streets. That structure was dedicated as the new home of Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 on June 22, 1926.
The era of the Elks’ existence at 11th and J streets ended in the 1970s, and plans were made for a new home for the local organization.
Having sold the 11th and J streets building, Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 began that new chapter in its history at its present Riverside Boulevard building.
Although that structure does not have the grandiose aesthetics of the old 11th and J streets temple, the structure, which encompasses about an acre of property, is nonetheless a high quality building with various amenities.
The main feature of the building is its combined rooms, which include the Riverside Room, the Florin Room and the Lodge Room. These rooms can also be opened up for use as one large room.
Available for rentals, the combined rooms also include a 50-foot by 50-foot hardwood dance floor and a 46-foot by 16-foot stage.
Additionally, all members have access to a fitness center, which includes an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, racquetball and handball courts and a weight room.
Other amenities include a library and meeting room, a lounge with a full bar and small dance floor, a patio and barbecue area, a kitchen and a game room.
As for telling the story of the establishment of an Elks lodge in the Pocket, information was gathered for this article, the most important of which was a chronological summary of the building project written by Garry T. Vivaldi, then-Elks state trustee and exalted ruler of the lodge in 1956 and 1957.
The road to the Elks departure from its downtown skyscraper began on Jan. 17, 1967 when Otto Steinbrenner, Jr., city chief building inspector, via a letter, informed the Elks Lodge No. 6 Hall Association that its temple would need to be improved to meet the then-present building codes.
In recalling that time in the local Elks history, Vivaldi wrote, “For approximately three years, we procrastinated on what course to pursue in this matter. Would we attempt to raise money to make necessary improvements to meet the building code standards or should we continue in our efforts to purchase new land in a desirable location and build a new home?”
On Aug. 25, 1970, the pros and cons of selling the longtime home of the Elks were discussed during a regular meeting.
During the following year, the local Elks’ building committee met various times with the McKeon Construction Co. regarding a possible build-to-suit and lease back arrangement in the Stonelake area, near the site of a then-future portion of Interstate 5.
The lodge made major moves regarding its downtown temple in 1972, with the first of those moves coming on April 4, when membership approved a resolution to sell the building and its land.
Then on Nov. 1, 1972, a sale occurred, when A&A Key and Builders Supply and B and B Enterprises purchased the building and property for a net sum of $250,000.
But in being that the lodge would have become homeless without its old building, an arrangement was made to lease back three floors of the structure for five years.
That arrangement called for the lease to begin on Dec. 1, 1972 and terminate on Dec. 1, 1977.
Considerations were given for various potential sites for a location of a new lodge building, among which were 10 acres in the Natomas area along Interstate 5 and property in the Campus Commons area near California State University, Sacramento.
On June 11, 1974, local Elks members voted, 112-8, to purchase about a 15-acre site at the lodge’s present location.
An application was filed with the city Planning Commission on Aug. 14, 1974 for the purpose of acquiring a special permit to have a “private club” constructed in an agricultural zone at the northwest corner of Riverside Boulevard and Florin Road.
A kickoff rally for the new building fund was held in the lodge’s Mirror Room on Feb. 13, 1975.
Highlights of that event included steaks that were grilled on a barbecue on the fire escape and the presentation of a wheelbarrow with 300 silver dollars that was wheeled into the room by Francis W. Silva, past exalted ruler, as a donation to the new building fund.
In reflecting on that time in the efforts to have a new Elks lodge constructed, Vivaldi wrote: “The year 1975 was a critical one of the building committee. Much had to be done by way of designing the building, inside and out, location of building on property, type of building, interior considerations of location of offices, athletic department, bar, banquet hall, lodge room, library, pool room, conference areas, kitchen and numerous other items, and most important of all – the financing of the building program.”
Members of the lodge approved a contractual agreement for building design services on Oct. 23, 1975, followed by the grand lodge’s approval to proceed with the construction of a new building on Jan. 8, 1976.
On Dec. 14, 1976, membership approved the borrowing of $600,000 for the financing of the new building.
Ten days later, a formal application to the grand lodge designated plans to expend $1,055,000 for the new Elks structure and the execution of a $600,000 mortgage at a 9 ¼ percent interest to be repaid in 25 years.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the building was held on Jan. 15, 1977. At the gathering, Exalted Ruler Richard Sanderson turned over the first shovel full of dirt with the same embossed, jewel encrusted shovel that was used for the groundbreaking of the 11th and J streets temple.
The construction of the building initially progressed rapidly, but progress would be temporarily delayed in August 1977, as it was determined that the parapet walls surrounding the mechanical units on the roof were insufficient for their purposes and thus needed to be revised.
During the final meeting at the 11th and J streets temple on Nov. 8, 1977, a resolution was approved for the borrowing of an additional $135,000 for the building project.
Furniture and fixtures that would not be used at the new building were sold at an auction held at the downtown temple on Nov. 12, 1977.
Two weeks later, many Elks members dedicated a day to moving the remaining Elks property from their former home to their new home on Riverside Boulevard.
The first lodge meeting in the new building was held in the conference room on Dec. 13, 1977, as the lodge room had not yet been completed.
Following its eventual completion, the present home of Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 was dedicated on April 21, 1979. And the mortgage for the present building was burned in 1991 after the sale of the lodge’s additional property created funds to pay the balance of that mortgage.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Del Monte canneries had many successful years in capital city

In a city that was once known for its canneries, among the kings of Sacramento’s canneries were undoubtedly the canneries of the California Packing Corp./Del Monte Corp.
Also known as Calpak or the Del Monte cannery due to its marketing under the Del Monte label, the California Packing Corp. established its first plant at 611 G St. in about 1916.
The first superintendent of that plant, which was known as Plant No. 11, was David B. Pressler. He was then living at 2215 I St.

This former Del Monte cannery building at 17th and C streets presently houses the manufacturing operations, offices, a visitor center and retail store, and storage of Blue Diamond Growers. / Photo courtesy of Blue Diamond Growers
This former Del Monte cannery building at 17th and C streets presently houses the manufacturing operations, offices, a visitor center and retail store, and storage of Blue Diamond Growers. / Photo courtesy of Blue Diamond Growers

Another Calpak plant – Plant No. 12 – which was located on the block bounded by Front, 2nd, P and Q streets, is mentioned in a city directory for the first time in 1919.
Louis H. Stewart, a Calpak district superintendent who resided at 2621 25th St., is recognized in that directory as having then been associated with that plant.
In about 1922, J. William Schumate replaced Pressler as the superintendent of Plant No. 11 and George L. Fraser began serving as superintendent of Plant No. 12.
During the same year, Calpak, which produced such canned goods as pears, peaches, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, beets, carrots and squash, was already planning to relocate its Plant No. 11 operations to a site at 17th and C streets.
Prior to the construction of a large building at that site, Calpak was granted its request to have 17th Street closed between B and C streets, as well as the alley between B and C streets.
On April 4, 1925, the new Calpak Plant No. 11 was celebrated in The Bee.
The main article on that topic in that edition of the paper pertains to the operation of the cannery, which was opened for public inspection on that day.
At the time of its opening, the new plant was receiving crates of fresh spinach for canning. The deliveries were made in the receiving room, which was located on the east end of the plant.
Once those deliveries were made, the spinach was handled by checkers and weighers.
The cannery also included the scene of men moving product by hand trucks to the ends of grading tables.
In describing another scene at the cannery, the article mentions the many rows of women who could be seen working at the plant’s cutting tables.
Portions of that segment of the article read: “Some sit, some stand as they do their work, but in either position, the strain of remaining in one place continuously throughout a long day is made as comfortable as possible for them by the company.
“The tables at which the women work are arranged for the placing of two or more lug boxes, fresh spinach in one, graded spinach in another, and below a third, into which the tough, fibrous stems and root ends are dropped.”
In continuing its description of the plant, the 1925 article mentions that the spinach leaves were taken from the sorting room to a conveyor belt that delivered them to washing and bleaching machines on the second floor of the building.
After that process was completed, the leaves, which had become wilted due to passing through hot water, were then taken by conveyor belt to the first floor, where female workers set cans on scales and filled them with spinach by hand.
Next, the additional space in each can was filled with boiling water, and then the cans were transported to machinery, which clamped air-tight lids on them.
The final steps were to let the cans cool, label the cans and box them for shipment.
Another article in The Bee’s April 4, 1925 edition recognizes that the plant’s female cannery workers were required to wear standard, blue and white uniforms for the dual purpose of providing cleanliness and lessening the wear and tear of their own clothing.
Many of the female workers also wore rubber aprons as an additional protection against vegetable juices.
In about 1926, with the departure of Fraser, Henry G. Hohwiesner, who resided at 2817 G St., became the superintendent of Plant No. 12.
In at least 1928, the assistant superintendent of Plant No. 11 was P.H. Fish.
It was also during the late 1920s that Harold Dexter replaced Schumate as the superintendent of Plant No. 11.
By 1931, John H. Doran, who resided at 2400 F St., was employed as the assistant superintendent of the 17th and C streets plant.
Plant No. 12 was mentioned in an article in the April 7, 1934 edition of The Bee as “one of the largest (canneries) in the country.”
The article also notes that with the beginning of the canning season on the following day, the plant would immediately provide work for 1,000 people, and eventually expand to its season average of 1,800 to 2,000 workers.
According to an article in the June 19, 1935 edition of The Bee, the Sacramento Community Chest had arranged to continuously use surplus fruits and vegetables from Calpak, Bercut-Richards Packing Company and Libby, McNeill & Libby for its relief work.
Among the benefactors of that surplus food were people assisted by the Catholic Ladies’ Relief Society at 924 11th St., the Grace Day Home at 1909 7th St., the Sacramento Orphanage and Children’s Home at 2750 12th Ave., the Volunteers of America at 1105 5th St., the Salvation Army at 1120 5th St., the Stanford-Lathrop Memorial Home at 800 N St., St. Barnabas Community House at 2029 8th St., and St. Patrick’s Home for Children at the south end of Franklin Boulevard.
By 1936, John J. Cerruti had become the superintendent of Plant No. 11, and Richard C. Cerruti was the assistant superintendent of Plant No. 12.
Additionally, Leslie W. Cerruti was employed by Calpak at that time.
In 1937, a major expansion of Plant No. 11 led to a doubling of the size of this cannery.
In a report regarding plans for that expansion in the Feb. 11, 1937 edition of The Bee, it was mentioned that at that time, the cannery, which then included a packing plant and warehouse, was “already the largest fruit and vegetable cannery in the world.”
The expansion project included the construction of a single-story, brick warehouse that would cover two square blocks, just north of the original plant.
Mentioned in the 1937 Bee article is the then-plan to connect the original plant with the new structure through a subway.
A Calpak advertisement, which was published in the August 21, 1943 edition of The Bee, reads: “Women needed in Del Monte canneries to work last half of night shift, 12 midnight to 6 a.m. Help us finish this peach pack, which ends in about 10 days. Every worker counts. No experience necessary. For further information, apply: California Packing Corporation. Plant No. 11, 17th and C streets. Phone 2-2901. Plant No. 12, 2nd and P streets. Phone 2-3691.”
The March 1944 Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company telephone directory, under a section for Calpak, recognizes Plants No. 11 and 12, as well as Plant No. 13 at 1519 Spear Avenue, a lug box warehouse at 3rd and X streets and the Yolo Ranch on Elkhorn Road (now Elkhorn Boulevard).
Among those who worked at Plant No. 13 – a wholesale plant, which was no longer in operation by the early 1950s – were Frank J. Messina, assistant manager, and Russel T. Chappell, foreman.
By the mid-1950s, George W. Martin was the superintendent of Plant No. 11.
The 1961 city directory recognizes Plant No. 11 at 1721 C St., with George W. Martin as superintendent; Plant No. 12 at 1600 2nd St., with Frank C. Calcagno as superintendent; Plant No. 17, a sub-wholesale warehouse at 2401 3rd St.; and a marketing office at 2621 J St. The office was under the management of Donald Parks.
By the mid-1960s Calpak’s local operations were Plants Nos. 11 and 12, with Frank C. Calcagno, superintendent, and Plant No. 238 at 1601 North A St. The latter plant was a can manufacturing plant that was managed by William Tucker.
During the late 1960s, the old Calpak cannery and can manufacturing plant had ceased operation.
The old Calpak Plants Nos. 11 and 238 were then being run by the Del Monte Corporation, with the latter plant being under the direction of Francis I. Beall, and the 17th and C streets plant being led by Calcagno.
In its Sept. 18, 1982 edition, The Bee reported that the Del Monte Corporation would “close its can plant at 16th and A streets sometime before next spring,” and that the 17th and C streets plant had closed during the previous year.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Restaurant site has served community for 63 years

Willie’s Hamburgers and Chiliburgers at 2415 16th St. has been serving its popular fare of burgers, hot dogs and fries since 1991. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Willie’s Hamburgers and Chiliburgers at 2415 16th St. has been serving its popular fare of burgers, hot dogs and fries since 1991. / Photo by Lance Armstrong


For nearly a quarter century, Willie’s Hamburgers and Chiliburgers has been serving its popular fare of burgers, hot dogs and fries at 2415 16th St. But the location of this business has a much lengthier history as a restaurant site.
Initially, the property had a five-room, one-story house with a brick chimney.
The house, which was built in 1921 and 1922, was lived in by Agnes Roach from 1922 to about 1923, William Smearden from about 1925 to about 1927, and a widow named Alice L. Smith from about 1927 to about 1949.
A restaurant was the next place to occupy the site.
According to a building permit, dated Aug. 1, 1949, arrangements had been made to construct a restaurant building at 2415 16th St. at a cost of $3,500. The proprietors of the eatery were listed as Gausman and Beachamp.
A permit for a sign for the restaurant is dated Oct. 4. 1949, and the permit recognizes the name of the restaurant as Frenchie’s.
Frenchie’s was a model restaurant that allowed potential buyers an opportunity to view this two-person operated metal sandwich stand.
An advertisement in the December 9, 1949 edition of The Sacramento Bee notes: “See model being operated. Terms can be arranged. Investigate now for quick action. Write or call at Frenchie’s, 2415 16th St., Sacramento. Bill Gausman or Otto Allen.”
Frenchie’s was known for its “meal on a stick.”
Various items such as hot dog slices, green peppers, cheese, pickles and tomatoes were placed on a wooden skewer and then dipped in egg, fried and served with a special sweet and sour barbecue sauce. The original cost of this “meal” was 35 cents, plus tax.
On Jan. 7, 1950, The Bee ran an advertisement for Frenchie’s with the following words: “10,000 customers have already tried Frenchie’s ‘a meal on a stick.’ We want every person in Sacramento to try Frenchie’s.”
Another advertisement, which was published in the May 15, 1952 edition of The Bee, reads: “This is a steal! Small drive-in seats 100 (25 inside and 75 outside). Low overhead, long lease, fully equipped electrically. Will net over $800. Must (sacrifice on) account of leaving city. Buyer can pay off business during summer months. Small down payments. Bal. terms. See owner now – this won’t last. 2415 16th St.”
The 1952 city directory lists Sterling G. Gausman, of 1813 N Street, as the proprietor of a restaurant at that site.
By September 1952, the location was home to Hay’s Hamburger Stand.
During the following year, Leone Batesle and June Miller were operating a different hamburger stand, called J & B Hamburgers.
In about 1954, that business was replaced by J & H Hamburgers, which was owned by John and Helen M. Kuhlman, who resided at 1748 39th St. in East Sacramento. The couple was also the proprietors of Park Ice Cream at 2719 Riverside Blvd.
The next restaurant at this site was The Hitching Post, which opened in about 1957.
About a year later, Henry L. Woodbey and Helen G. Weaver established another eatery, Hank & Helen’s restaurant, in the same location.
In 1959, Jimboy’s Tacos opened its first Sacramento restaurant. The business’s founders were J.R. “Jimboy” Knudson and his wife, Margo Knudson.
With a consistent flow of customers frequenting that location, the Knudsons were enjoying their early success in the capital city.
And despite losing their lease on the 16th Street building in about 1966, the prosperity of the business continued when J.R. Knudson purchased the former Richardson estate at 1420 29th St. for $35,000 and had the then-existing house removed and had a permanent restaurant structure built in its place.
A reference to that lease in the Jan. 23, 1997 edition of The Bee reads: “The restaurant did so well, Jimboy’s executives say, that the landlord refused to renew the lease and instead opened his own taco hut.”
The eatery that replaced Jimboy’s on 16th Street was actually named Taco Hut.
A building inspector’s card, dated Aug. 2, 1966, mentions that West Coast Building Wreckers had been contracted to have the then-present restaurant building demolished. The project was signed off on Sept. 14, 1966.
A building permit for a new restaurant structure on the site was issued on Aug. 8, 1966, and the general contractor of the project was James Construction.
Taco Hut’s first two owners were Charles H. O’Connell, from about 1967 to about 1970, and Margaret Woods, from about 1970 to about 1977.
Another Taco Hut owner was Pauline Starnes, who followed Woods in that role.
Taco Hut was replaced by Willie’s Hamburgers and Chiliburgers, which made its debut in 1991.
It was during that year when William “Willie” Jay began offering his versions of the famous burgers served at such legendary, post-World War II Southern California diners as Tommy’s and Pink’s.
Original prices at Willie’s included a single burger for $1.25, a 16-ounce, real ice cream shake for $1.35 and a double chili cheeseburger for $2.50.
One of the longtime popular burgers offered at Willie’s is the Slammer ($4.20), a chiliburger with a single patty, freshly made chili, tomato, onions, pickles and mustard.
The eatery, which also serves chilidogs, french fries, onion rings, tamales, and a variety of crepes for the breakfast crowd, has a second location at 5050 Arden Way, at Fair Oaks Boulevard.
Jay also owns Iron restaurant – a steak, burgers, seafood, salad, bar, etc. establishment – at 2422 13th St.
As the Willie’s on 16th Street continues to draw new and regular customers on a consistent basis, its location’s legacy as one of the area’s longtime operating restaurant sites appears to have a bright future.
Lance@valcomnews.com

Japanese family established residence, business in East Sac in about the late 1920s

This future development site at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street is the former location of the longtime operating businesses, East Sacramento Nursery and El Dorado Savings. / Photo by Lance Armstrong
This future development site at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street is the former location of the longtime operating businesses, East Sacramento Nursery and El Dorado Savings. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

A vacant parcel of land at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street was once an active place. And rumor has it that it may become active again sometime soon.
Regarding the property, which is located between the Espanol Resturant and Camellia Cleaners, and across the street from Corti Bros. Italian grocery store, Espanol Restaurant co-owner Perry Luigi said, “I was talking to Mr. Cole. He’s part of the corporation that owns that property now and he kind of gave me a little heads up that something is in the works of going in there – five or six little businesses. I think they’re all food things, like a small donut shop, a small pizza place. I think they all have to deal with food, but I’m not sure.”
Presently, signage on the property, in part, reads: “New East Sacramento development coming soon. New development. Retail/restaurant space available. CBRE (commercial real estate services).”
Although CBRE retail team representatives did not respond to requests for further information regarding this Folsom Boulevard property by deadline, details pertaining to the site will be presented in this paper once additional information becomes available.
As for the history of the property, this corner of the boulevard was for many years home to East Sacramento Nursery.
That business, which was originally owned by Kusunosuke Miyai (1878-1972), began operating at this site in about 1929.
East Sacramento Nursery previously operated under the same ownership at its first location at 4746 Folsom Blvd. from about 1927 to about 1929.
It is mentioned on a city building permit record, dated Nov. 4, 1927, that arrangements were then made for a nursery greenhouse to be built at 5801 Folsom Blvd.
According to that document, the property’s owner was then Jeannette Miyai.
A 1928 advertisement for the East Sacramento Nursery recognizes the place as a supplier of “shrubbery and all kinds of plants, florists” at 4746 Folsom Blvd. The phone number of the business at that time was Main 6980-J.
Although several people who resided in that area during the late 1920s and 1930s were contacted regarding the nursery, only one of those people could recall having seen that business’s original location.
And when it came to the nursery’s existence at the featured address of 5801 Folsom Blvd., the majority of those people recalled the business, but had very little to say about the place.
East Sacramento native Willie DaPrato, a former owner of Espanol Restaurant, remembers seeing the business at that site for many years.
In commenting about the nursery, DaPrato said, “I vaguely knew the people that owned it. They would come in (the Espanol) once in a while, but I didn’t know them and I didn’t have any conversations with them. They didn’t really participate in the neighborhood as far as I knew.”
The 1930 U.S. federal census recognizes the then-52-year-old Kusunosuke as then residing at 1425 58th St. with his then-43-year-old wife, Sumiye; his sons, Akira, 16, Kiyoshi, 14, and Ben, 6; and his 14-year-old daughter, Hanna.
The same census recognizes Kusunosuke and Sumiye (1886-1968) as natives of Japan and U.S. citizens, and their children as having been born in California.
In the 1936 city directory, an Arthur Miyai is listed as the nursery’s manager and a George Miyai is recognized as the nursery’s assistant manager. Kusunosuke was still the business’s proprietor at that time.
The 1940 census listing for the Miyai family shows few changes when compared to the aforementioned 1930 census.
Although the entire family had aged 10 years, they continued to reside together at 1425 58th St.
Another change in the 1940 census is that each family member, with the exception of Ben, are recognized as “owner-operator” of the nursery.
Additionally, the 1930 census’ spelling of “Hanna” was altered to “Hannah” in the 1940 census. The latter spelling appears to be the correct spelling, based on the fact that in nearly every discovered reference to this person, her name is spelled, “Hannah.”
The 1941 city directory recognizes George as a clerk at the nursery, Hannah as the bookkeeper, and Arthur as a nurseryman.
As a result of the Japanese evacuation of World War II, the Miyai family is not listed in the following year’s directory, and the nursery building had become vacant.
Following the war, Arthur Miyai and his wife, Amy, reopened East Sacramento Nursery at 5801 Folsom Blvd. and began residing at the aforementioned address of 1425 58th St.
An advertisement in the Dec. 14, 1945 edition of The Sacramento Bee reads: “Announcement: Now open for business – East Sacramento Nursery and Florists, corner 58th (Street) and Folsom (Boulevard). Dial 5-8298. Potted plants, cut flowers.”
Arthur was involved in a two-car automobile accident at 8th and N streets on Nov. 20, 1951. He suffered a knee abrasion and injured ribs.
The Miyais’ misfortunes continued as Ben was struck by a car while he walking at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard on March 19, 1952.
But both Arthur and Ben experienced some fortune, as their injuries were relatively mild, considering the nature of the accidents.
An East Sacramento Nursery and Florists advertisement in the May 7, 1954 edition of The Bee encouraged readers at that time to give their mothers a potted plant for Mother’s Day.
The selection of potted flowers available at that time included African violets, azaleas, caladium, calceolaria, fuchsia, gloxinia, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, roses and bonsai – “Japanese dwarf trees in dishes.”
Additionally, the advertisement notes that the business was also offering cut flowers and corsages.
In 1955, an addition to the nursery was completed at a cost of about $3,360.
About 12 years later, the business’s name was shortened to East Sacramento Florists, presumably based on its offerings at that time. The place continued to use its previously established slogan, “Flowers for all occasions.”
Arthur and Amy maintained the operation of their business until about 1980, and by 1982, an El Dorado Savings and Loan branch was operating on the site.
El Dorado Savings and Loan ceased operations at 5801 Folsom Blvd. on Friday, June 3, 2011 and reopened at its then-new and present location at 5500 Folsom Blvd. three days later. The building at the latter address had previously housed World Savings and Wachovia bank branches.
After the Wachovia Corporation was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008, the 5500 Folsom Blvd. building became available on the market, since Wells Fargo was already operating its nearby Camellia City Center branch at 5700 Folsom Blvd.
During his interview for this article, DaPrato recalled another former detail about the featured old nursery site.
“There was a house right behind (the nursery building) – a two-story house,” DaPrato said. “The house was there when the bank was there, too.”
As previously mentioned in this article, this paper will provide details about the former nursery site at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard once additional information becomes available.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Arden area, other places share unique shopping center connections

A Town & Country Village shopping center was located in Sunnyvale, Calif. from about 1963 to about 2013. / Photo courtesy of the Heritage Park Museum
A Town & Country Village shopping center was located in Sunnyvale, Calif. from about 1963 to about 2013. / Photo courtesy of the Heritage Park Museum

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series about various Town & Country shopping center locations.

Residents of the Sacramento region and beyond are familiar with the Arden area’s Town & Country Village at Fulton and Marconi avenues. But a much lesser known trivia is that many other cities have been home to Town & Country shopping centers.
Some of those centers have a direct link to Sacramento’s Town & Country Village, while others simply share the name, partial name or concept.
Although research for this article revealed the establishment of Town & Country Village locations in additional cities, John Strizek, the son of Jere’ Strizek, who founded the Arden area’s Town & Country Village, said, “My dad was really only associated with the three (Village locations) that he built (in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Phoenix) and the one he consulted on (in San José). Later on, he did some shopping center consulting up in Portland, but that was a completely different deal. That was with the Jansen family, and a project of theirs.”

Palo Alto

The reverse side of an old postcard for another Town & Country Village reads: “Town and Country Village, Palo Alto, California, on the east side of El Camino Real, features dozens of specialty shops for elegant shopping.”
The front of that 1950s card shows a long stretch of buildings with overhangs and red tile roofs.
Through research for this article, it was discovered that this Town & Country Village continues to operate in mostly original structures, about a half-mile south of the main campus of Stanford University and directly across the street from Stanford Stadium.
In regard to this Village location, Oxana Morozov, property assistant for the management of Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village, said, “Town and Country Village was built in the 1950s. The buildings are all original. We have about 90 retail stores and 20 offices. We have a lot of boutique-like stores and a lot of retail restaurants. (There are) some national businesses, and small mom and pop (type businesses). More than 50 (percent of the businesses are of) the mom and pop (type variety).”
Morozov added that this Town & Country Village, which has the address of 855 El Camino Real, has been owned by Ellis Partners since 2008.
Also commenting about the Village in Palo Alto was Steve Steiger, historian of the Palo Alto Historical Association.
“There is one new building (housing a Trader Joe’s) on the site,” Steiger said. “Most of the buildings date from the 1950s and they’ve been remodeled and altered over time.”

Sunnyvale

Through a discussion with Laura Babcock, director of the Heritage Park Museum in Sunnyvale, Calif., it was confirmed that a Town & Country Village, with the familiar overhangs, ivy covered wooden posts and red tile roofs, was once located in that city at the northwest corner of Francis Street and Washington Avenue.
A 1988 newspaper clipping on file with the museum refers to the shopping center as a 25-year-old landmark, or in other words, it was built and/or opened in 1963.
Babcock said that Sunnyvale’s Town & Country Village experienced economic difficulties and was eventually demolished (in about 2013).”

Mill Valley

Jocelyn Moss, librarian at the Marin History Museum, verified the one-time existence of a Town & Country Village in Mill Valley in Marin County.
“Yeah, there was (a Town & Country Village) in Mill Valley,” Moss said. “(The shopping center is) out in the country, but the mailing address is Mill Valley. It’s (in) a development area. I don’t know much about when it started, but it was around 1965, because I didn’t see it in the 1964 phone book.
“(The center’s buildings) have a mission-style [appearance], with the red tile roofs, [overhangs and palms]. It’s right [off] the freeway – Highway 101.”
Through further research for this article, it was discovered that the shopping center is now called Strawberry Village.
Steve Steiger, the aforementioned historian of the Palo Alto Historical Association, recalled visiting this shopping center during his youth.
“I was a kid growing up in Mill Valley when it appeared there in the 1960s,” Steiger said. “If I was a betting man, I would say it [began in] 1962. I grew up across the freeway. I remember going to a record store that was in the shopping center and buying (some of the) latest rock ‘n’ roll records.”

El Cajon

San Diego County has been home to various Town & Country shopping centers, including three such centers in El Cajon.
Marie Scott, assistant to Chuck Moore, property manager for El Cajon Town & Country since 2008, said that the management company’s records show that El Cajon Town & Country dates back to 1965.
Adjacent to that center is a smaller center known as Town & Country Village.
In speaking about that Town & Country Village, Jane Kenealy, archivist at the San Diego History Center, said, “This is just a very small shopping center. It may have been updated and lost its western theme, which is highly possible. But that is the only one (in El Cajon) that is called Town & Country Village.”
Further research about El Cajon shopping centers led to the discovery of a shopping center known as Rancho San Diego Town & Country, at 2514-2522 Jamacha Road.
Brian Quinn, senior vice president of Flocke & Avoyer Real Estate, a third party agent for Kimco Realty, which owns a portion of Rancho San Diego Town & Country, mentioned that this shopping center has the familiar overhangs, red tile roofs and palm trees.
Quinn added that the same center was built in three phases from about 1988 to about 1994.

Houston

A Town & Country Village debuted in Houston in the late 1960s, and had its north end re-created into the Town & Country Mall two decades later.
The mall was demolished in 2005, and was replaced by another high density shopping center known as CityCentre, at 800 Town and Country Blvd.
Town & Country Village, which was redeveloped in 1996, exists in its redeveloped form today.
An early advertisement for the Town & Country Village in Houston includes the following words: “Town & Country Village, Memorial Drive and Interstate 10 freeway at West Belt Freeway. Town and Country in Houston usually means Town and Country Village – America’s most picturesque and charming center of department stores, boutiques, shops, stores, restaurants, theatres and fun! The large and magnificent, as well as the small and quaint.”
Houston native Elizabeth Martin, who serves as the education coordinator for The Heritage Society in Houston, which focuses on the history of Houston and the surrounding region, also spoke about Houston’s Town & Country Village, which has the address of 12850 Memorial Drive.
“Town & Country (Village) was more picturesque, because it wasn’t all under one roof,” Martin said. “They’ve totally redone that particular center. Now they’ve gone to kind of a town concept, (with) more the town than the country. It’s more high end now, with a lot more restaurants.”

Whitehall and Kettering, Ohio

During research for this article, it was discovered that two cities in the state of Ohio are home to Town & Country Shopping Centers. Those cities are Whitehall and Kettering.
An article in the February 24, 2013 edition of The Columbus Dispatch notes that on July 5, 1947, real estate developer Don M. Casto, Sr. had announced his plan to have “a million-dollar shopping center” constructed “just outside the city (of Columbus)” on East Broad Street, between Maplewood and Collingwood avenues (in the then new suburb of Whitehall).” The article mentions the official opening of Whitehall’s Town & Country Shopping Center as March 1, 1949.
Casto, a now third generation, full-service real estate company, owns both the Town and Country center in Whitehall and the Town & Country center in Kettering.
The Kettering center, which recently added a Trader Joe’s, is described by Casto as having been a joint venture project of that company and Skilken real estate development company for many years.
Instrumental in obtaining information for this segment of this article were Lois Helton and Teresa Huntley of the Kettering-Moraine Branch of the Dayton Metro Library in Kettering.
While searching for materials regarding the Town & Country topic, Helton discovered author Harold E. Amli’s 1997 book, “A History of Van Buren Township and Kettering, Ohio,” on a shelf at the Kettering-Moraine Branch library.
In that book, Amli mentions that Kettering’s Town & Country center was built in 1950 and 1951 and opened in the fall of 1951.
As for drawing a connection between the western-themed Town & Country Villages with their overhangs and red tile roofs and the Town and Country Shopping Centers of Whitehall and Kettering, historic photographs of these Ohio shopping centers reveal that these centers did not have those features.
An important finding during research for this article was the existence of a smaller section of the Kettering center known as the T&C Village Shops.
In commenting about the Village Shops, Huntley said, “They’re a part of Town & Country [Shopping Center], but they’re a separate building.”
Historical details about Kettering’s Village Shops were not discovered during interviews and research for this chapter. However, it may be more than a coincidence that this Ohio city is home to T&C Village Shops and Jere’ Strizek established shopping centers that utilized the name Town & Country Village Shops.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Herbert, Inez Yee celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

Herbert and Inez Yee, shown September 14, 2013 photograph, recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. Photo by Tom Chan
Herbert and Inez Yee, shown September 14, 2013 photograph, recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. Photo by Tom Chan

Herbert and Inez Yee are shown during their younger years in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Yee family
Herbert and Inez Yee are shown during their younger years in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Yee family

Herbert and Inez Yee reached a milestone in their marriage earlier this week as they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Their special day was observed with a Chinese meal with family and friends at Macau Café, just south of the Sacramento Zoo, followed by a gathering for dessert at the Yees’ South Land Park home.
Herbert and Inez’s meeting is a Stanford love story, as they met while attending Stanford University in the summer of 1943.
In recalling that moment, Herbert said, “I was already at Stanford for one year and I noticed a pretty Chinese girl. I knew she was Chinese, because all of the Japanese were already taken to (wartime) relocation camps, and we were at war with Japan. And so, I stopped my car and I saw her at the quad. At first she saw me at the Stanford bookstore maybe a week earlier. So, anyway, the next time, I saw her standing in front of what we called the quad, right in the middle of Stanford. And I stopped (the car), and strangely I had the only car at Stanford (at that time). I said, ‘What is your name? And she said, ‘Inez Fong.’ And I said, ‘Are you interested in attending our Chinese Student Club meeting? I’m the president.’ She said, ‘OK.’ So, I said, ‘We’ll come pick you up tomorrow.’ But the ‘we’ was just me. I ain’t gonna bring the four other guys with me.”
During the following day, in addition to attending the Chinese club meeting, Herbert and Inez walked to various places around the Stanford campus, including Lake Lagunita.
After being asked whether he “hit it off with Inez,” on that day, Herbert said, “I don’t remember whether I tried to kiss her or not, but I remember she said, ‘That wasn’t too good,’ or something like that. Well, I guess I wasn’t a lover like Errol Flynn (the Australian-American actor who was known for his romantic roles in films). But anyhow, so, that’s the beginning.”
Herbert mentioned that Inez’s time as a student on the Stanford campus was a short-lived experience.
“She was a 90-day wonder,” Herbert said. “She was there (at Stanford) for 90 days. She didn’t have the money to stay there. Inez wanted to study chemistry, because she did get a job at the Westvaco chemical plant.”
Inez, who grew up in Niles (now part of Fremont), was then residing in downtown Palo Alto with a lady who Herbert then referred to as “elderly.”
But Herbert chuckled after thinking back on labeling that lady in that manner, and then said, “(Inez was only like 17, 18 years old) and this lady (Mrs. Yang) was in her 50s.”
Although Herbert found many things to love about Inez, he commented that her cooking ability at that time was not one of them.
“(Mrs. Yang) was a professor at Stanford, but she was a painting professor, but there was no job as a painting professor,” Herbert recalled. “So, they said there’s an opening for a cooking instructor. So, she got the job for cooking. So, when I go and visit Inez and this other lady, Mrs. Yang, here is a young boy hoping to get a home cooked meal from two ladies. But neither of them knew how to cook. I sat there and waited and waited, but finally I gave up and went back and went to a Chinese restaurant to eat. Oh, they did open up a can of tomato (soup). They even burned that.”
Herbert remained at Stanford after Inez’s three-month stay at the university had concluded, and he continued his studies at that institution. And as for Inez, she moved to San José, because the tuition was less expensive at San José State University.
Herbert, in being a year ahead of Inez in her studies, would frequently drive to San José to assist her with her chemistry studies.
In recalling a previous girlfriend that he had dated, Herbert said, “Although my parents were very polite, I said, ‘How do you like my girlfriend?’ They said, ‘Can she grow another 2 inches?’ She was too short, like 5 feet (tall). So, when I told her that, she never came back.”
Fortunately for Herbert’s sake, Inez is about 5 feet 3 inches tall.
Herbert eventually presented Inez with a diamond engagement ring, which was purchased in San Francisco.
Herbert and Inez were married at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1300 N St. on June 24, 1945.
By 1952, Herbert, who would later spend many years working as a dentist, had been out of dental school for four years, and had saved $4,000. And with a plan to purchase a house, he borrowed another $5,000 from his father.
In speaking about his effort to buy a house in South Land Park, Herbert said, “I didn’t know there was a covenant. No Orientals or black or brown. So, they gave me the runaround. The owners said, ‘Well, the sign says for rent.’ So, he said, ‘No, you talk to the real estate guy.’ The real estate guy said, ‘Oh, it’s him.’ But I found out it was a covenant. I found out what those guys were doing. So, I saw this (South Land Park) lot, and then I got my father’s neighbor, a white gentleman. Just a week before I was going to buy it (with the assistance of that man), he said, ‘I can’t buy it for you. I own a Texaco station, and my boss lives a block from where you want to buy this lot. So, I would get fired or lose my station.’ So, I got my lawyer to buy (the lot), and so here I am (living in South Land Park for six decades). I moved (into a new house on that lot) the day (President Dwight D.) Eisenhower got elected – November (4), 1952.”
Together, Herbert and Inez had four children, Dr. Randy Yee, who is a retired dentist; Dr. Alan Yee, a pulmonary doctor; Dr. Wesley Yee, a dentist; and their late son, Dr. Douglas Yee, who was a dentist.
Herbert said that he and his wife also have nine grandchildren, seven whom are married, and about 15 great-grandchildren.
After being asked to comment about his 70 years of marriage to Inez, Herbert said, “We both feel that we’re lucky to be able to be together so many years and we would like to keep it (that way) as long as we can.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Sacramento State University approves 20-year master plan

This rendering shows the new residence hall how it is expected to appear following its construction along the American River. This student housing facility is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2017. / Photo courtesy of Sacramento State University
This rendering shows the new residence hall how it is expected to appear following its construction along the American River. This student housing facility is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2017. / Photo courtesy of Sacramento State University

Sacramento State University has experienced much growth during its longtime existence on its J Street campus. And more changes were recently approved as part of this local institution’s 20-year-master plan.
The existing campus facilities are presently comprised of 78 buildings, ranging in age from more than 50 years old to The Well building, which was completed in 2010.
During an interview with this paper last week, Donovan Hillman, interim campus architect at Sacramento State, mentioned that that the university’s board of trustees approved that plan on May 20. The process for creating that plan began about two years ago.
Hillman explained that Sacramento State’s master plan is consistently being updated.
“There’s an update to the master plan every five years,” Hillman said. “This is the latest five-year update. Planning 20 years into the future, things change, so you want to update it a little more frequently than that.”
The present master plan, which involved consideration of community input, calls for new structures and various renovations to be completed by 2035.
But Hillman said that there is no guarantee that everything on that plan will become a reality by that time.
“It would take a substantial amount of funding to do everything that we want to do,” Hillman said. “All the academic buildings depend on funding from the (California State University) system. The parking and the housing, they pay for themselves. Hopefully, someday this money (for the remaining projects) will be available.”
And in regard to the initial construction through the present master plan, Hillman said, “The first step we’re taking with this master plan is this summer. We’ll (then) start construction on a new student housing project on the north end of the campus. It will be a 416-bed project for freshmen and sophomores. It is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.”
Presently, the campus has about 1,600 beds for student housing.
Hillman, a Carmichael resident who became an employee of the university last year, explained that he is very familiar with construction projects at Sacramento State.
“I worked for a company called E.M. Kado Associates for 27 years before coming to the campus last September,” Hillman said. “While I was there, I was project architect for five buildings on (Sacramento State’s) campus.”
Hillman’s boss and the coordinator for the master plan is Victor Takahashi, the university’s director of facilities planning and construction services.
Takahishi works under Ali Izadian, associate vice president for facilities management at Sacramento State.
Mike Lee, vice president for administration and the chief financial officer at Sacramento State, maintains the role of making sure that facilities follow the master plan, and he coordinates with the different academic divisions of the university. Lee reports directly to the university’s president.
The second building that is scheduled to be constructed at Sacramento State under its present master plan is the parking structure at the north end of the campus.
In commenting about that project, Hillman said, “We could potentially get started next year. It would be probably a two-year project.”
In further speaking about the topic of student parking, Hillman said, “We don’t have a lot of open land on the campus. So, as we develop buildings, we’ll be using primarily parking lots. So, the impact of that for people who have to come to the campus is a challenge. That’s why we’re doing a parking structure to replace some of the parking.”
Hillman named other structures that are anticipated to be built under the master plan, as follows: Administrative student services building (south end of the campus); science building (northeast); engineering building (northeast); performing arts building (northeast); administrative office building for public safety and parking services (north); and student events center (almost at the mid-point of the campus by the six-story Parking Structure 3).
Hillman, in further commenting about upcoming plans for the campus, said, “The big thing is we’re going to continue to develop housing on campus. The president would very much like to build our events center for both our basketball teams and for the community to have around a 5,000-foot events center. We’ll be expanding the (University) Union and The Well, which is our student athletic center.
“Academically, we have plans to add a new science building. That (project) would be the first priority. Then we’ll continue to add new buildings, (including) a new performing arts center.
“We’re hopefully going to develop some of the Ramona property, south of the actual campus. We have two properties off the campus. We have Folsom Hall, which is just down Folsom Boulevard from the campus, then we have the Ramona property, which used to be the old California Youth Authority correctional facility. It wasn’t needed anymore and our auxiliary purchased the property. Long-term, we plan to do some development out there.”
Also planned for the campus, on its south side, is a large child care facility, which would replace the campus’s smaller, present child care center.
After being asked how much different the campus could appear in 2035, Hillman said, “In a lot of ways, it’s going to be kind of similar. Some of the older buildings in the center of the campus – the one and two story buildings – in the long reach plan, they’ll be going away. A lot of the buildings that we have on campus now will get renovated and refreshed. The look of the campus will change as those buildings are developed. As sort of overall, we’re sort of landlocked in a way. We’ve got the river on one side and the rail line on the other. Most of the athletic facilities are still going to be on the west side of the campus. And long range, we hope to refresh the stadium also.”
Hillman also described a plan for a campus “central entrance” and greenbelt area.
“Part of the master plan is to develop sort of a central entrance to the campus as you come in off J Street, at what we call the esplanade – that green area where you drive in,” Hillman said. “And we’re going to extend that down into the center of the campus.
“Administration will be at the north end of the campus. The intent is it is sort of a gateway onto the campus. As (one comes) onto the campus as a new student or a visitor, it’s what they’re going to see first. It will have most of the services where students and visitors can do what they need to do on the campus.
“And part of what we’re doing now is something called LID project, which is low-impact development, which involves storm water retention and rain gardens. Basically, the idea is we’ll take storm water that the campus generates and run a portion of it into this project. It will help slow down how fast it goes back into the river and disperse some of it into the ground, so we’re not putting so much water into the river directly. So, that’s going on right now. That will be going on this summer also.
“The idea is we’re trying to get a greenbelt at the north end of the campus, down the center of the campus. And we’ll have basically buildings on either side of that.
Traffic will continue to circulate around the perimeter of the campus. We’re trying to keep the traffic on the outside and keep pedestrian circulation more internal, so (students and other people on the campus are) not having to dodge cars.”
In speaking about the university’s anticipation for its future construction and renovation plans, Hillman said, “We’re very proud of the academic facilities that we provide and we’re excited about the plans we have for continuing to develop new buildings and new opportunities for (academics), housing and recreation for our students on campus.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Town & Country Village history includes locations outside Sacramento

Sacramento’s Town and Country Village, shown in this 1950s photograph, was constructed in what was, at the time, a very rural part of the county. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection
Sacramento’s Town and Country Village, shown in this 1950s photograph, was constructed in what was, at the time, a very rural part of the county. Photo courtesy of the Lance Armstrong Collection

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series about various Town & Country Village

locations.

There are certainly a wide variety of sites that have brought character to Sacramento, and among those sites was undoubtedly Town & Country Village at the northeast corner of Fulton and Marconi avenues.
Although this shopping center has a much different appearance than it did in its earlier years, it continues to carry its name and legacy.

Sacramento

Nearly 70 years ago, a visionary contractor named Jere’ Strizek (1902-1979) was granted permission to build a 300-foot-long building and two buildings with 90-foot fronts on that site.
In its Sept. 11, 1945 edition, The Sacramento Bee notes: “The completed project, to be called the Town and Country Shopping Center, will serve Bohemian Village, the Country Club Estates and a large tract southeast of the Del Paso Country Club which Strizek plans to develop as restrictions on home buildings are lifted.”
Partnering with Strizek on the design of the Village was the Illinois-born, Sacramento architectural designer John W. Davis (1911-1970), who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Illinois in 1934.
By September 1946, 20 of the then planned 30 stores were then in operation.
Many longtime locals are familiar with the Village’s original features such as Spanish-style buildings with red tile roofs and overhangs and tall palms, redwood plank store signs, wooden benches, urns, hanging pots and a wide variety of shrubbery and flowers.
But a relatively few number of those people area aware that Sacramento was not the only city to have a Town & Country Village shopping center.
During research for this article, it was discovered that Jere’ and his wife, Jessie, had only one child, John Edward Strizek.

Los Angeles

John Strizek, who is now 67 and resides in Land Park, said that another Town & Country Village was constructed on leased property in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
“After the (Strizek) family moved to Los Angeles, they built (a Town & Country Village in that city),” John Strizek said. “That was on (the southeast corner of) 3rd (Street) and Fairfax (Avenue).”
A gold colored, metallic token for the Town & Country Village in Los Angeles was made available as a souvenir in 1955.
On that side of the token are images of a building with an overhang and a tile roof, a wagon wheel and two palm trees. And in the lower right portion of that side of the souvenir is the replica, raised lettered signature of Jere’ Strizek.
The reverse side of the token has the image of a horseshoe, and the words, “You’re always lucky when you shop at ‘the Village.’ 67 distinctive shops to serve you.”
During the early years of Los Angeles’ Town & Country Village, wooden plank, store signs hung in front of the center’s businesses. They included such wording as “Town & Country Delicatessen,” “Fisher’s Hamburgers,” “Richard’s (ice cream shop) – exclusive ice creams, salads & sandwich bars.”
Current records of the city of Los Angeles show no listing for a Town & Country Village.
Brett Arena, archivist for the A.F. Gilmore Co., which owns the historic Farmers Market across the 3rd Street from the old Town & Country Village site, confirmed that the latter named shopping center no longer exists.
“All the (Town & Country Village) buildings are all gone,” Arena said. “I think (the place closed) in the early 1960s.”
The site is presently home to a variety of businesses, including CVS pharmacy, Kmart and Whole Foods Market.
Arena said that Farmers Market opened on July 14, 1934.
Furthermore, Arena shared some history about the area where these two business places operated.
“Town & Country (Village) is adjacent to a very large development called Park La Brea, where Metropolitan Life Insurance developed before,” Arena said. “After the war, the entire project was redesigned. So, this was all of a sudden a very big residential area on the former Hancock land. The Hancock family is an important Los Angeles family. They became an oil family. They owned the vast majority of Rancho La Brea, which was one of the Mexican land grants. So, the property across the street was originally (owned by the) Hancocks.
“So, after the war, when Park La Brea was developed, people were moving into this area. That’s when Town & Country was put together.”
These two shopping destinations eventually became competitive with one another, Arena explained.
“(Town & Country Village) was really not only going to take advantage of (its) proximity to Park La Brea, but also to try to siphon off some of the clientele of the well established Farmers Market,” Arena said. “There was a little bit of a rivalry between the two places.”
In sharing some other details about Los Angeles’ Town & Country Village, Arena said, “One of our tenants, a gentleman by the name of (Irvin ‘Kip’) Kipper started Kip’s Toyland here. Kip was in World War II, and then after the war, he started the Toyland over at the Town & Country (Village).
“Richard’s (ice cream) place was a pretty big deal. I grew up in the neighborhood and went to Fairfax High School up the street. Old timers talk about (Richard’s). There was also a pharmacy and beauty parlor.”
Arena also mentioned that Los Angeles’ Town & Country Village was managed by Earl Froning, and that its property was eventually owned by the Hancock Foundation.

Phoenix

In further speaking about the history of Town & Country Village, John Strizek said, “After (Los Angeles), we moved to Phoenix and made an agreement with Patricia Mars and Allen Feeney, on property of the Milky Way Hereford Ranch on (East) Camelback Road (and 20th Street). (Mars) was part of the Mars candy company family.”
An article in the Nov. 17, 1955 edition of the Prescott (Ariz.) Evening Courier includes the following details about that project: “Already surrounded by new subdivisions, the 138-acre, grassy tract will be the site of a multimillion dollar shopping center with about 100 stores and a hotel, according to preliminary plans by its developers.
“The ranch was reported to have been leased by Jere’ Strizek, a Los Angeles contactor and developer, from M.A. (Allen) Feeney.”
Construction on the center began in May 1956.
John Jacquemart, 65, a researcher and part-time staff worker for the city of Phoenix’s historic preservation office, said that Phoenix’s Town & Country Village continues to operate, with its mostly historic appearance.
“(The center is) still there,” Jacquemart said. “As with any commercial venture, there’s change that goes on. Other things have been added on, but it still has (basically) the same appearance.”
In sharing his earliest memories of Phoenix’s Town & Country Village, Jacquemart said, “I went there in the 1950s. I went there shortly after it opened. We moved to Phoenix in 1956 from Tucson, and where I got shoes – Ernie Brewer’s (children’s) shoe store – was there at Town & Country (Village). And later, in the late 1960s, I would go to the food court and sit out on the patio with some food and some wine.”
Jacquemart added that he found it interesting to learn about other Town & Country Village locations.
“You know, we all think we have something unique, but it’s also kind of great to see that we tie in and fit in with somebody else,” Jacquesmart said.

San Jose

In regard to another Town & Country Village, which was located at the southeast corner of Winchester and Stevens Creek boulevards, near the famous Winchester Mystery House, Strizek said, “My dad did some consulting on one that was built in San Jose, although he did not build that one. And that was probably somewhere around 1960 or so.”
Catherine Mills, curator of archives and library at History San José, Silicon Valley’s largest and most comprehensive historical organization, commented about that Town & Country Village, saying, “According to our directories, the San Jose location first shows up in 1960.”
A c. 1965 directory of shops and services of San Jose’s Town & Country Village includes the following words: “Town & Country Village is a charming, rustic wonderland of the finest stores in Santa Clara Valley. The low, rambling architecture of the Village is suggestive of an early California hacienda. Tree-lined islands divide ample parking areas, just steps away from stores. Spanish tile roofs shelter wide sidewalks, inviting all-weather shopping.”
Like Sacramento’s Town & Country Village, San Jose’s Town & Country Village included businesses with the word, ‘Village’ in their names. Those San Jose businesses included Village Cleaners and Village Coiffeurs.
In 1985, the Village in San Jose introduced the Town & Country Village Lantern newsletter, which was offered as a newspaper advertising supplement.
The Lantern’s June 1986 edition mentions that the Village was home to 125 specialty stores and services.
The history of San Jose’s Town & Country Village came to an end in the late 1990s, as the old shopping center was demolished and replaced by a 1.5 million square foot, mixed use development known as Santana Row.
Construction on that development, which includes an upscale shopping center, theater and residential living units, began during the summer of 2000.
The initial portion of that development opened on Nov. 7, 2002. The fill-out of the project was completed by 2006.
According to a Santana Row press kit, Town & Country Village was built on a 40-acre parcel that was formerly the site of a pear orchard.
Also included in that release was the following history: “In 1960, developer Ron Williams (took) a shopping center concept that he thought would be appealing to Bay Area residents. He would build Town & Country Villages (with) one-level Spanish-style buildings of stores and restaurants in four Bay Area communities – San Jose, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Mill Valley.
“The shopping centers’ tile roofs and covered walkways, supported by thick, vine covered (beams) had a distinctive appearance that set them apart from other shopping malls. The open-air facilities invited visitors to stroll and relax, and promised a touch of class.
“Town & Country Village remained a popular destination for many years, even if larger, modern shopping malls were built in the valley.
“The center became a little tired, a little shabby and more than 8 acres remained a dusty, empty field.
“In the late 1990s, its owners at the time, (which was Metropolitan Life Insurance), decided to put the property on the market. Three thousand miles away, Federal Realty Investment Trust – an equity, realty investment trust, based in Rockville, Md. – was searching for a prime location in California to build its strength (with) an architecturally spanning, mixed-use development where people could live, work, shop and dine together all in one place. The Town & Country (Village) site in San Jose seemed the perfect fit.”
San Jose’s Town & Country Village site was sold to Federal Realty in March 1997.

Lance@valcomnews.com

Under-the-freeway farmers’ market to celebrate 35th anniversary

Susan Kelso Kibbler and Paula Kelso show off oranges grown at Kelsos’ Black Gold Ranch in Oroville.
Susan Kelso Kibbler and Paula Kelso show off oranges grown at Kelsos’ Black Gold Ranch in Oroville.

The oldest of the county’s Certified Farmers’ Markets is about to reach a milestone in its history, as this summer that market will reach its 35th year of operation.
Located under-the-freeway at 8th and W streets, adjacent to Southside Park, this year-round market was established in August 1980.
In tribute to that market, the Land Park News paid a visit to this local attraction last weekend.
During that visit, a portion of the market’s vendors shared details about the businesses they represented.
Information regarding some of those businesses is presented, as follows:

Beals’ Orchard

Greg Beals, owner of Beals’ Orchard in Placerville, has the notoriety of being one of the original vendors of the 8th and W streets farmers’ market.
The 42-year-old, 53-acre Beals’ Orchard, which was established in 1973, was only seven years old when Greg began selling at the market.
With a smile on his face, Greg said, “I have a few more gray hairs now.”
In sharing a bit about his business story, Greg said, “I’m the plum man by trade, because I have so many varieties, and the customers made me the plum man. But I’ve diversified into peaches, nectarines, pluots, persimmons, pomegranates, figs. That’s the main products.
“This is my passion. This is what I always wanted to do. So, I started in 1973 and started planting an orchard. I retired 15 years ago, but this is what I prefer to do. I also do a few other things, but this is the main thing.”
Greg also had kind words to say about Dan Best, coordinator of Certified Farmers’ Markets in Sacramento County.
“Dan Best, the market’s manager, keeps making (the market) better by bringing in a diverse variety of vendors that add to the ambiance of the market. It’s the best market in Sacramento County,” Greg said.

Kelsos’ Black Gold Ranch

For regulars of the 8th and W streets farmers’ market, another one of the most familiar faces at that market is that of Citrus Heights native Paula Kelso, co-owner of Kelsos’ Black Gold Ranch, in Oroville, with her husband, Richard.
In speaking about the longevity of her business at the market, Paula, a 1957 graduate of San Juan High School, said, “There were three of us that stood on the corner (of 8th and W streets) for about three years (during the market’s early years). I came (to the market) in 1984, but I’ve been doing it on the ranch for 40 years. I bought this old orange ranch for a hobby.”
Susan Kelso Kibbler, Richard and Paula’s daughter, mentioned that many generations of her family have worked as citrus farmers.
“My family has been in the citrus industry in California for five generations,” Susan said. “At one time, we had four generations on the farm. There are three of us now. In (Rialto, Calif., on the longtime citrus ranch of Richard’s family), they lost all their trees to the smog. We have 17 acres of citrus, 2,000 trees, a lot of different varieties of citrus.”
Susan added that people have learned a lot about buying fruit at this farmers’ market, since its early years.
“(Early on), it was more like, ‘Why does this stuff look weird,’” Susan said. “But this is the way they grow on the trees.”
Paula mentioned that people from some parts of the world do not need to be educated about farmers’ markets.
“There are some countries where they have shopped like this,” Paula said. “They don’t have to go to (grocery stores). They get them fresher, cheaper and better (at the farmers’ market).”
In further commenting about the market, Paula said, “It’s really a fun thing for families, and we try to make everybody happy.”

Bodega Bay Oyster Company

The Bodega Bay Oyster Company, of Petaluma, began selling its products at this market in about 2000.
Jim Ingegneri, a vendor for that company, commented about the business, saying, “Bodega Bay Oyster Company has been in business for 30 years. They always sell oysters in Tomales Bay. We harvest three times a week. We deliver to wholesale fish companies in San Francisco. We deliver all over the city to the restaurants and stores, and we also have a retail store on Valley Ford Road (in Petaluma), where you can come in and buy oysters. They’re fresh. We also have clams and mussels.”
And in commenting about the 8th and W streets market, Ingegneri said, “There are a lot of people, (and) it’s under the freeway. No tent, no nothing. And I enjoy all the vendors in my immediate area.”

Lucky Dog All Natural Beef

David Karetala, a vendor of Lucky Dog All Natural Beef, of Dixon, said that the business was established about five years ago to supply Lucca Restaurant at 1516 J St. and Roxy Restaurant at 2381 Fair Oaks Blvd.
In commenting about that business’s product, Karetala said, “We’ve got the best beef that you’re going to taste anywhere, in not just California. The ground beef is mind blowing. The rib-eyes and filets, you can’t buy steaks that taste this good. It seems steep, some of the prices, but you’re supporting a local business, somebody from the local area. It doesn’t get any better than that. That’s the idea. You don’t want the factory farms’ sick cows. You want the real way, and that’s the price you pay for it all. Yeah, all natural.”
Karetala also mentioned that he enjoys meeting the regulars of the market and learning about their cooking experiences, and taking their requests.
“It’s kind of a community (at the market),” Karetala said. “You get used to seeing the same people. We get a lot of regulars. They come here every week and they ask (such things as), ‘Hey, I’m going to a barbecue, can you hang onto some tri-tip for me?’”

Nai’s Berry Farm

Nai Meng of Nai’s Berry Farm, of Antelope, began operating his business in 1994, and he became a vendor at the market about a year later.
Among the products offered by this business at various times of the year are strawberries, blackberries, green beans, eggplant and squash.
After being asked why he enjoys coming to the market, Meng replied, “Because I like people.”
Meng said that in addition to his work as a farmer, he is also employed as a blackjack dealer at Cache Creek Casino.

Watanabe Farms

Little Pocket resident Heidi Watanabe, co-owner of West Sacramento’s Watanabe Farms, with her husband, Clark Watanabe, is a regular vendor at the 8th and W streets farmers’ market.
Many longtime readers of Valley Community Newspapers’ Land Park News and Pocket News newspapers may recall Heidi’s father, Roy Watanabe, a former writer for those papers.
In regard to the 7-acre Watanabe Farms, which was established in 1997 and began selling at the market in about 2002, Heidi said, “We’re actually known for our tomatoes. There are several (tomato vendors) out here, but I would like to say that we have the best tomatoes. We have such a big variety, and our quality control is very high.”
Heidi said that the farm has grown tomatoes as heavy as 4 pounds, but that they are not sold at the market.
“They taste like cardboard,” Heidi said.
Watanabe Farms, which also grows such produce as nectarines and a variety of squash, offers all organic products, with the exception of its tree fruit.

Bui Farm

Bui Farm, which is located on two acres off Elk Grove-Florin Road, has been in business for 23 years.
Debbie Tran, who was one of four members of her family who were working at the market last Sunday, shared the following information about the business:
“My grandpa’s last name was Bui, (thus the name Bui Farm). We have a lot of herbs and vegetables, but mostly like Asian types like you don’t see a lot in other stalls. We have like cabbage spinach, water spinach. We also have Chinese spinach and Thai basil. We have more of a variety that we grow.
“We’ve been coming to the market for 20-something years. I like the market because of the people. You see a lot of the same people every week. They (say) like, ‘Oh, hey, I remember you from last week and the week before.’ So, they know you. And other (vendors) know us. We always go around and we trade (products).”

Ochoa Flowers

A relative newcomer to the market is Ochoa Flowers, of Half Moon Bay.
Kari Chiappetta, a vendor for that business, said that Ochoa Flowers was established in 1977, and grows more than 50 varieties of flowers year round.
Becky Ramos, a 1970 graduate of C.K. McClatchy High School, mentioned that she is a regular customer of the business.
“I come out here every Sunday to get flowers for my (deceased) family members at the burials at St. Mary’s (Cemetery at 6700 21st St.). The flowers are for my son and my two sisters. Every week I bring them fresh flowers. And I like it to look colorful and we clean the burial (plots). It’s a family tradition. They’re always in our hearts. They always have beautiful flowers. So, I just need to get flowers every week.”

Lienert Quality Honey

Sacramento native Frank Lienert, Jr., a 2002 graduate of Jesuit High School, shared details about his family’s business, Leinert Quality Honey.
“My dad (Frank Lienert, Sr.) started (the business) 52 or 54 years ago,” Frank, Jr. said. “He was born in Woodland. He grew up on a dairy. We live in the Tahoe Park area, but the hives are all out in the country. Our facilities are out in the rural area.
“We have honey. We also have pollen. We sell honey sticks, which is our honey packaged in plastic straws. The honey we have is all different varieties, whatever nature will provide. There’s orange flower (honey). There’s wildflower (honey) that people take for allergies. There’s eucalyptus, sage, alfalfa, safflower (honeys).”
Frank, Jr. was asked about the health benefits of consuming honey.
He replied, “It’s twice as sweet as sugar, so if you were to use it as a sugar substitute, you would use half as much. It also has pollen in it, so it has nutritional benefits, as well as (it) helps with allergies. We have a lot of customers who buy it to help with seasonal allergies. A lot of people swear by it.”
In speaking about the market, Frank, Jr. said, “I grew up coming here. The farmers like it. It’s a buyers’ market. People come here and they want to buy. People are here looking for the freshest (products) they can get. This is the biggest, most comprehensive market in the Sacramento area. So, you see lots of people here and they come to buy. It’s a fantastic market all around, whether you’re buying honey (or other products). If you’re looking for anything that’s grown in California, odds are you’re going to find it here.”
Many other vendors fill grounds each week at the under-the-freeway farmers’ market at 8th and W streets, as they offer a variety of products.
The market is open every Sunday throughout the year from 8 a.m. to noon.

Lance@valcomnews.com