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September 17, 2008 > History: Washington Township Plaques

History: Washington Township Plaques

The Washington Township Historical Society dedicated six bronze plaques to mark historical sites in Fremont. The design by Gereon Rios featured a side view of the Mission along the top and Mayhews Landing and the first court house building in Alvarado on the side.

The first plaque appropriately honored the Ohlone Indians. Funded by the historical society and a grant from the Alameda County Bicentennial Commission, it was mounted on a stump from the original Mission property on the Holy Family Novitiate grounds and dedicated at Mission San Jose July 21, 1977. John Sandoval was master of ceremonies and the Rev. Michael Galvan the guest speaker. The inscription on the plaque reads:

"HONORING THE OHLONE INDIANS WHO DWELT HERE AT ORISOM. OHLONE MUSICIANS AND ARTISANS WITH INSPIRED LEADERSHIP OF PADRE NARCISO DURAN DEVELOPED THE OUTSTANDING CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA OF THE MISSION ERA OF CALIFORNIA."

Fremont's city council granted $3,000 to the historical society for five additional plaques, one in each of the former city's districts. The city recreational commission helped select these locations using the same design for each plaque; only the inscription was changed.

The second plaque was dedicated at Stivers Lagoon on July 19, 1979. Master of ceremonies was Richard Wood. Honored guests were Marcella Stivers and LaVerne Stivers Dickerson. Mayor Gene Rhodes dedicated the plaque, and John Sandoval gave a history of Stivers Lagoon. The inscription on the plaque read:

"ONCE AN OHLONE HUNTING MARSH. TODAY A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY. 1848 LAGOON ON FARM OF PIONEER SIMEON STIVERS. 1968 LAKE FOR FREMONT, NAMED TO HONOR SISTER CITY, ELIZABETH, AUSTRALIA. MAY THESE VERDANT SHORES AND PLACID WATERS ALWAYS REFLECT REFRESHMENT FOR BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT."

The Essanay Studio Site plaque was dedicated May 17, 1980. John Weed was master of ceremonies. Mayor Leon Mezzetti unveiled the plaque and Donald Parkhurst gave the address. The plaque read:

" 'AMERICA'S FIRST HOLLYWOOD'. FRANCIS X BUSHMAN, CHARLIE CHAPLIN, WALLACE BEERY, MARIE DRESSLER, BEN TURPIN, VIC 'SLIPPERY SAM' POTTEL AND 'ALKALIE IKE' STARRED HERE 1910/1912. EARLIEST FILMS STARRED GILBERT ANDERSON (MAX ARONSON) ALIAS 'BRONCO BILLY.' 1958 OSCAR WINNER! WHAT COLORFUL SECRETS ECHO THRU NILES CANYON, THESE STREETS AND BUNGALOWS OF NILES GLORIOUS PAST."

The Vallejo Home Site plaque was dedicated June 25, 1980. John Weed was master of ceremonies. Mayor Leon Mezzetti dedicated the plaque and Paul Power and Austen Warburton gave historical talks. The inscription read:

"1839-1890. ADOBE HOME OF DON JOSE DE JESUS VALLEJO. ADMINISTRATOR OF MISSION SAN JOSE. CENTER OF EARLY DAY CULTURE. 1949. TWO BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTED ON THIS SITE BY MISS OLIVE HYDE TO ENHANCE THE HISTORIC MISSION. 1962. GENEROUS GIFT TO THE CITY BY MISS HYDE AND REMAINS THE CULTURAL CENTER OF FREMONT."

The Agua Caliente plaque was dedicated September 27, 1980. John Weed and Leon Mezzetti were again in charge. The speaker was Fred Weibel, Sr. The inscription reads:

"NATURALLY HEATED AT 98 DEGREES THESE ANCIENT SPRINGS CONTAINING SODA, BORAX, AND SULPHUR, HAVE BUBBLED FOR CENTURIES! VALUED FOR MEDICINAL PROPERTIES, USED BY INDIANS AND SPANISH FOR WASHING. 1860-1869. CLEMENT COLUMBET'S FASHIONABLE RESORT. DAMAGED BY 1868 QUAKE. ITS WATERS ARE STILL BEING USED IN THERAPY.

The Centerville Presbyterian Church plaque was dedicated January 25, 1981. Earl Mackintosh, Leon Mezzetti, George Kolberg, Rev. Gordon Westlind, and Bob Morrison led the program. The text reads:

"OLDEST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN CALIFORNIA. ERECTED 1855. REPAIRED AFTER 1868 EARTHQUAKE BY REPLACING ORIGINAL BRICK WITH REDWOOD SIDING. THIS BUILDING IS A TESTIMONIAL TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH OF ITS FOUNDERS. ITS SPIRITUAL, CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS ARE CHERISHED BY THE CITY OF FREMONT.

These six plaques have endured a variety of treatments. The Essanay and Vallejo home plaques are still in place; the Stivers Lagoon, Ohlone Indian and Presbyterian Church markers have been moved to safer locations while the fate of the Agua Caliente plaque is shrouded in mystery.

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