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Patrick Talbott and Larry Parker guide a tour of historic homes along College Street during the 2009 Stroll Through History. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

Stroll Through History

Enjoy a free neighborhood walking tour

By From page C11 | September 04, 2014

As part of the many Stroll Through History festivities, free guided walking tours are led by trained guides who will explain the architectural features and history of stops.

Each stroll lasts 45 to 60 minutes. All terrain is flat on city sidewalks. Participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera. Stroll walking tours start at times and locations noted below.

Woodland’s Progressive Architectural Spirit: A Time Machine of Bold Design Making Woodland a Valley Jewel begins at 8:30 a.m. at 756 First St. (corner of Pendegast Street). Docents are David Wilkinson and Roger Klemm.

This year’s “early bird” tour will take strollers backward and forward in time beginning in 1916 when, during the Progressive Period, the Stephens family hired a talented Berkeley architect, John Hudson Thomas, to design a Prairie-style house, with arts-and-crafts touches beneath a century-old Valley Oak, surrounded by “old fashioned” Victorians on First Street. This bold architectural showpiece, lovingly preserved by Frank and Ann Joule, symbolized Woodland’s progressive spirit then and is beloved today for its unique and picturesque design. From 1916 they will travel backward to view several styles of Victorian houses from an earlier era marked by fine home building by local craftsman and then march forward in time to the idealism and nature-centered Craftsman period, followed by the romance of the 1920s storybook styles. Learn the history behind Woodland’s exceptional architecture during a leisurely, interactive stroll. Several varieties of tree species that comprise Woodland’s shady urban forest, including ancient native oaks, will also be viewed.

The Dead Cat Alley tour will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Downtown Heritage Plaza, Second and Main streets. Docents are Dino Gay and Rich Westphal (NSGW Woodland Parlor 30).

In 1873 Sam Ruland had the misfortune of being robbed on Dead Cat Alley. Even before that time, the alley had already become one of Woodland’s most interesting landmarks. Today, most visitors are alarmed at the unusual name of the passage, but personal tales of “The Alley” bring its history to life. In 1853 Henry Wyckoff built a small store on the southeast corner of what is now First Street and Dead Cat Alley. The Tai Lee Laundry and the Din family later occupied the same building. This year’s strollers will spend an hour to see how the commercial district grew from there and hear about happenings in the alley. The tour will include 666 Dead Cat Alley, Woodland’s original railroad site and China Town — behind the Chicago Cafe, one of the oldest restaurants in California.

Fabulous First Street’s Architectural Treasures: Parts 1 and 2 will be divided into two parts to capture the grandeur and beauty of the entire street.

Part 1  begins at 9 a.m. at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Avenue, led by docents Patrick Talbott and Lucy Christensen.

Part 2 begins at 10:30 a.m. at First and Cross streets in front of the Gable Mansion, led by docent Mary Aulman.

Richly diverse with a wide array of Victorians, including the California State Landmark Gable Mansion, First Street contains a stunning variety of well-preserved architecture spanning the period 1860 to 1940, epitomizing Woodland’s extraordinary cultural heritage and social history. The homes have been beautifully restored by many homeowners over the last 50 years, including the Victorian at 638 First St., winner of a national Great American Home Awards Grand Prize for restoration work.

From Haight Ashbury to Woodland: Victorians Go For Color! begins at 10 a.m. at the northwest corner of First and Lincoln streets, led by docent Don Easton.

During the 1960s “Summer of Love” era in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, many artists and musicians moved to the neighborhood attracted by the cheap rents and historic, commodious architecture. The “psychedelic period” inspired new musical styles and an array of color being applied to drab Victorian houses. Today San Francisco’s “Painted Ladies” are renowned worldwide. The preservationist and colorist movement spread to outlying regions, including Woodland, where preservationists reviving Woodland’s historic neighborhoods began experimenting with exterior paint colors to accentuate architectural detail. Woodland-based house painter, Don Easton, has painted many of Woodland’s most elegant Victorians. He will lead a tour of some of these houses along First and College streets, sharing his “tricks of the trade,” the psychology of colors, craftsmanship preparation, and the skill of detailed finish painting. View “before and after” photos, and learn how he accentuated the amazing architecture in these beloved Victorians.

College Street Pioneers and Preservations begins at 9:30 a.m. at the southeast corner of College and Lincoln streets (historic Woodland Christian Church), led by docent Barbara Graham.

College Street has a variety of upscale house styles, including Victorian-era Italianates, Queen Annes, Craftsmans and bungalows, and the first modernist home in Woodland. Discover these homes and who lived in them during the early days of Woodland. From a United States congressman, a bank president, an author and a Women’s Christian Temperance activist, College Street was home to incredibly interesting and influential people. Fast forward a generation or two and learn about some of the innovative families who took it upon themselves to preserve these architectural gems for all of us to enjoy today.

Barns and Alleys and Hidden Surprises (children’s tour) begins at 8:45 a.m. at the corner of Dog Gone Alley and Second Street, just south of Main Street, led by docent Ken Trott.

This fun tour is full of surprises that kids (and adults) will love. This stroll will begin at Dog Gone Alley, one of Woodland’s two downtown alleys, weaving its way into hidden residential alleys. Children will discover some of Woodland’s seldom-seen places and visit several barns and carriage houses from the horse and buggy days. Towering ancient Valley Oak trees and other specimen trees planted by families from bygone days will be discussed. Kids will investigate what’s on the other side of Woodland’s historic homes. The tour will end at Dingle School where light refreshments will be served. Dingle Elementary History Club students, dressed in Victorian clothing, will be there to teach other children how to play Victorian games such as rolling hoop, graces, marbles, etc. Indoors there will be Victorian board games, copies of historic photos of the school site, and a large timeline of the school’s history dating back to the 1800s when the original Oak Street School stood at the site.

Barns and Alleys and Hidden Surprises (regular tour) begins at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Dog Gone Alley and Second Street, just south of Main Street, led by docent Ken Trott.

This tour will be probe deeper into Woodland’s residential alleys where adults can be kids again and explore some of the town’s hidden, but fascinating history.

Beamer Park Centennial Tour begins at 11 a.m. at Beamer Arches at Third and Beamer streets, led by docent Roger Klemm.

Shortly before World War I, Bay Area developer, Hewitt Davenport, subdivided the old Richard and Rebecca Beamer homestead and hired prominent landscape architect, Mark Daniels, to design something different for Woodland: an upscale, master-planned enclave with curved streets and a round-about with a fountain, an architectural gateway, a public park-and pricey home lots. A private train was chartered from Sacramento to promote the grand opening of Beamer Park in June 1914 — exactly a century ago. The complete build-out of the area took more than 40 years, interrupted by WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII, and accounts for the broad range of housing styles. Several talented builders left their mark on Beamer Park, including William Fait and Joseph Motroni, whose works will be highlighted on this tour. Recent improvements to the Beamer Park streetscape will also be discussed.

Downtown Woodland: Rotundas, Brick and Iron, Silver Screens and More begins at 11 a.m. in front of the Woodland Public Library, First and Court streets, led by docent David Wilkinson.

Woodland is a classic Main Street town and a slice of Americana, with many exceptional well-preserved historic buildings and others undergoing renovation by enterprising owners. The entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On this tour we will visit several architectural showpieces of Woodland: the Valley Jewel. The tour will begin at the iconic Woodland Public Library (1905) where strollers will view the newly-lighted rotunda and recently-created children’s mural and discuss the fascinating history of the library movement in Woodland, including the heroic efforts to preserve and expand California’s oldest-operating Carnegie Library. From there the group will stroll down First Street to view other early examples of Spanish-style architecture that swept downtown after the Victorian era. They will pass by the oldest downtown building and first post office (1861), early movie theaters, and observe renovation work occurring on the historic Bank of Woodland building (c1870) and the Hunt Building (1889) where brick and cast iron architectural details are being uncovered, restored, and elegantly painted.

Special to The Enterprise

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