In the early 1850s, Portuguese immigrants began to settle in the Pocket area. They had small, wood-frame houses with basic rooms built for them and their families. And eventually, larger and finer homes began to be constructed in the area as local incomes and families grew.
In 1909, the Antone Luiz Silva family had a 10-room, Victorian-style home constructed for them in the area by Manuel Valine, a local contractor who was known as “Calisto.”
Because of his knowledge regarding the area’s devastating 1904 Edwards Break flood, Silva had the house built on a knoll against the levee.
During about the same period of time, Manuel Seamas of the Grangers Dairy, which was located at the present site of Elks Lodge No. 6 at 6446 Riverside Blvd., had a similar, fine home constructed on his 100-acre dairy property.
The Silva and Seamas homes were built with an almost identical architectural design, which would cause one to conclude that the Seamas house was also constructed by Calisto.
Manuel Ferreira Dutra, who was known as “Shopinah” and was born in 1876 in Faial in the Azores Islands, immigrated to America when he was about 12 years old.
Shopinah, who was mentioned as a ferryman for the Glide Ferry in a recent Pocket News article about river ferries (Read story at www.valcomnews.com), was best known as the carpenter of the Pocket.
Overall, Shopinah was a carpenter, repairman, barn builder and general handyman, who was known as one who could fix just about anything that needed to be fixed.
Sometime in the mid-1910s, Shopinah, who built small homes in the area, spent three months remodeling the home of Manuel Dutra, Jr.
Pocket residents of the time were known to speak of Shopinah’s work with high regard and they would say that he used so many nails that whatever he built would “never come down.”
As opposed to using professional methods of measuring, Shopinah, who could not read or write, used various lengths of sticks for his measurements.
Another one of Shopinah’s specialties was building small religious shrines – “oratorios” in Portuguese – for family homes.
One Shopinah-built shrine – that of Maria L. Milhomens (Silva) Dutra – was donated to the Portuguese collection of the Sacramento History Museum, appeared in two separate
Portuguese exhibits at two local museums and is presently stored in the Sacramento History Museum archives.
Among Shopinah’s construction projects was the emergency building of a temporary, shed-type school on the Rogers ranch at the present intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Pocket Road, nearby today’s Garcia Bend Park.
The original Lisbon School, which was a converted barn, was destroyed in the aforementioned 1904 flood.
Shopinah, who was known for his infectious smile and easy going demeanor, died in a tragic accident when his bicycle was struck by a motorist on the dark, narrow Riverside Road (presently Riverside Boulevard) on March 8, 1941.
Following the era of Calisto and Shopinah, a new generation of contractors – who were apprenticed under Calisto – built homes in the Riverside-Pocket area.
Among these contractors were Antonio “Tony” Fernandes Terra and his brother, Frank Leal Terra, who formed a partnership, called Terra Bros., in 1923.
Tony and Frank built Tony’s home at 2940 Freeport Blvd. – the current site of Capital Power Equipment, next to Taylor’s Market – in 1924.
It was also during the 1920s that the Terra brothers built two spacious, brick houses in the Riverside-Pocket area.
One of these houses was the Manuel Garcia home at the intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Florin Road.
The other house was the Manuel Silveira Alvernaz home on Riverside Boulevard, near 35th Avenue. The home, which was built in about 1928 in a large parcel that was later subdivided, is no longer visible from the frontage road, which is Riverside Boulevard.
Sometime after the construction of the Alvernaz home, Tony and Frank ended their relationship as business partners.
Frank continued to work as a home builder on his own until his retirement in 1941.
Tony also worked individually, as he constructed homes until sometime after his son, Alfred, completed his education at Sacramento Junior College (today’s Sacramento City College). Alfred apprenticed under his father and then joined him in his business.
Alfred continued to build under his father’s license until obtaining his own license.
Tony, who moved to Santa Cruz, where he built, resided in and managed the Park Avenue Motel until 1957, died in June 1978.
One of Alfred’s most notable accomplishments as a building contractor occurred after he purchased lots in the Greenhaven 70 subdivision, where he constructed homes that suited the buyers’ specifications.
Due to the May 1964 death of Alfred, local subcontractor Jim Mulhern completed the Vickerman home on Royal Garden Avenue in Greenhaven 70.
Another local builder was Miguel “Mike” Furtado, who was born on July 6, 1884 in the island of Pico in the Azores Islands.
In 1901, Furtado immigrated to America and was soon afterward residing in Rio Vista.
Furtado obtained his general contractor’s license – No. 40 – in 1918 and he built many homes in Sacramento, including in the Land Park area.
Houses built by Furtado, who apprenticed and worked for Calisto, are easily recognized for their three-valley rooflines, which are focal points over the entrances of these homes.
With the annexation of the Riverside-Pocket area, John Joseph Machado of the Munger Lake area sold the majority of his property, but was able to maintain a lot to build a new home.
Machado selected Furtado due to his reputation as a builder of high quality homes.
Like other Furtado-built homes, Machado’s home included the three-valley roofline and a very functional floor plan.
The well-known contractor Norman Fernandez, who was the son of John Fernandez, the owner of the Sierra Builders firm, also built homes in Greenhaven 70. One of his two-story homes was constructed on Royal Garden Avenue.
The partnership of Ralph and Don Nevis also built homes in Greenhaven 70, one of which was a home on Parklin Avenue.
Upon Ralph’s death in 1966, Don continued to build houses on his own.
These houses included the home of Anthony Dutra, Jr. of the Dutra House – 8144 Pocket Road – family.
With these summaries of local builders, it is evident that the Riverside-Pocket area is a place with a rich, longtime tradition of fine home construction.