Fair Oaks Historical Society Newsletter
Volume 92 - April, 2010

Tuesday, 4/27/10, 6:00 pm
Fair Oaks Community Clubhouse
7997 California Avenue
Please remember to bring a casserole, salad, or dessert to share with others.

Website - www.fairoakshistory.org
Editor-Publisher: Jim Pearce             Circulation: Maria Brugger

President’s Message—

Mark your calendar for our next meeting-- Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m. We have planned a very interesting program of history, pictures and personal remembrances of the old Fair Oaks Fire Department (R.I.P., 1928 to 1993). Invite a friend or neighbor to come along, so we can grow our Society and introduce new people to our rich history, warm hospitality and great food.

This is my first chance to thank those members who are serving this year on the Executive Board and in appointive positions. Their support is crucial to our success. We exist to preserve our community’s historical resources, inform newcomers about their community, and provide nostalgic and social opportunities for old-time residents. We do this through our web site, this newsletter, meetings, press releases, special events, publications, traveling exhibits, and the history center. All this is possible because we have so many hard working volunteers.

I also want to thank everyone who has renewed his or her membership. If you haven’t renewed yet, we’d like you to do so at or before the upcoming meeting.

Your Executive Board has several irons in the fire-- First, they want to put more emphasis on the History Preservation Committee, create a new standing committee for History Center Operation and Information and a new standing committee for History Center Relocation and Establishment. This will accelerate our goal of a permanent history center. It also will help us provide new mobile and permanent history exhibits around town, acquire more historic ephemera, perhaps do another publication, and capture oral histories while the opportunity exists. Members will be asked, at some point soon, to approve bylaw revisions to facilitate this direction.

Second, the Board voted to weigh in on a County of Sacramento public hearing regarding the 1900-vintage George Straith house which is located along the American River Parkway on Edgevale Court. A letter from your Board was sent to the County’s Board of Zoning Appeals requesting completion of an environmental assessment of the house’s historical significance prior to approving a developer’s request to move the home. While there is some concern about the Society becoming too proactive in development issues, the Board felt that the age and unique qualities of this particular structure and its site warranted a little more consideration before the County approves a routine permit.

Soup Night planning is actively underway. The event committee needs your help with raffle and auction items, event activities and other logistics. Please volunteer when the committee members contact you—and they will.

Vice-President's Message:

At our January meeting, Don Woodside of the CSUS Renaissance Society gave an overview of varied Spring programs offered by the Society. Primarily targeting seniors, the Society offers on and off campus seminars and activities. Cost of membership is $60 a year and $35 for a half year.

The April program will feature a history of the Fair Oaks Fire Department from it's volunteer days to it's current place as part of the greater Sacramento Metro Fire Department. (quite a jump from a few volunteers in 1935 to the two, fully-staffed firehouses of today.) All retired Fair Oaks firemen are invited to attend whether members or not. If you would like to share a memory about the fire department please call Maria Brugger 530-677-3529. She's looking for people who have colorful stories about volunteer fire department happenings from the 30's, 40's and 50's.


Betty R. Lazier - Passed away Feb. 18, 2010
She was born in Fair Oaks, Daughter of Sim & Abby Green.

Elva Reed - Passed away on March 28, 2010
She has been a long time member of the Historical Society.


Fair Oaks Historical Society General Meeting Minutes, January 26, 2010

The meeting was called to order by President Ken Steen following a sensational potluck and the introduction of guests. Ken was awarded a gift certificate for his excellent service. Ken commented that he was proud of the Society’s recent fund raising efforts ($7,000 toward the History Center), revival of Fair Oaks history, networking with other history centers, and greater involvement and increase in membership.

Installation of New Officers: FO Chamber President Don Troutman installed the new officers for 2010 as follows: President, Ralph Carhart, Vice-President, Trude Vasquez, Secretary, Janet McWilliams, and Treasurer, Joe Dobrowolski. Newly elected President Ralph Carhart introduced Appointees and Standing Committee Chairs. Following, Ralph shared his vision and goals for 2010.
Historical Moment: Pete White shared stories from a 1953 San Juan Record. One reporter spread fear that there was marijuana in the area schools; this turned out to be a hoax. Another story featured out of town travels of the McWilliams and Spellman (Janet Spellman McWilliams) families.
Program: Vice-president Trude Vasquez introduced Don Woodside of the CSUS Renaissance Society who gave an overview of varied Spring programs offered by the society. Primarily targeting seniors, the society offers on and off campus seminars and activities. Cost of membership is $60 a year and $35 for a half year.
Minutes: The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as published in the newsletter.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Joe Dobrowolski announced that his report was in the January Newsletter. Dues paid: 31 renewals prior to the meeting; 40+ at the meeting. $150 collected from raffle and wine.
Auditor: Pete White announced that financial records are up to date. Pete congratulated Joe Dobrowolski for his excellent work.
Past President: Ken Steen offered kudos to the Sacramento Area History Consortium for its productive exchange of ideas. He commented that Elk Grove has an excellent center..
Dinner: Warren and Judy Blomquist promised to reward us with the best potluck in town.
Ways & Means: Claudia Thorn encouraged members to donate to upcoming raffles.
History Center: Lois Frazier called for docents to work at Spring Fest, the Chicken Festival, and June through November at the History Center’s second Sunday’s opening.
Newsletter: Marilyn Pearce has served as editor for six years. She called for a replacement for the upcoming April edition.
Parliamentarian: June Melvin told us that an annual (2010) budget should be presented at our January meeting. Auditor Pete White promised that this would be ready for presentation at our April meeting.
Soup Night Fundraiser: Claudia Thorn announced a $7,000 profit from the November event. There were a number of one time expenditures. Claudia recognized the hardworking committee. Plans are in motion for the next event, 1st Friday in November.
New Business:
It was moved by Lois Frazier and seconded by Dick Easterbrook that the Society accept a recommendation of an ad hoc committee and Executive Board approving and authorizing expenditure of $1500 for sponsorship of Fair Oaks Bluff Plaza Display Panel. Following discussion, it was amended to underwrite the expenditure of up to $1500 for the display panel. (Moved, Lois Frazier, seconded, Dick Easterbrook) Motion passed.

Next meeting of FO Historical Society will be April 27, 2010. Executive Board meeting will be March 30 at the home of President Ralph Carhart. Meeting adjourned by Ralph Carhart.

Respectfully submitted, Sue Easterbrook for Janet McWilliams, Secretary

 Docent's Report:

The History Center has been open every 2nd Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. We have had very good attendance. In March, 15 people visited. Thanks to the following people for being docents this year. Jean Applegate, Lois Frazier, Fran Messinger, Larry & Meg Smart.

On March 19 a young people theatre group needed access to the Center. thanks to Lois, Mike Maddox, Ralph & Sherrie Carhart for monitoring this six hour function.

The History Center will be open for the Fair Oaks Fest on May 1 and 2. We will need docents for 2 hour shifts on these days. could you help? 967-2967.

Suzie Hutton's 1st grade class from Earl Le Gette school will tour the History Center on April 29. They will also take a walking tour of Fair Oaks.

The 12th annual Memorial Day celebration at the Fair Oaks Cemetery will be on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:00 am. This year will honor women air force service pilots.

"Did you know?" The Historical Society has a Memorial Book at the History Center. This is a very significant way to remember people who have passed away. Names are inscribed in the "Book" that is on permanent display at the History Center. Contribution forms are available at the center or call Meg Smart - 967-6590.

Soup Night 2010 Update

Claudia Thorn/Lynn Steen

Soup Night 2010

Hope you are holding Friday, November 5th, 2010 for our next big Soup Night Fundraiser. Tickets will still only be $35.00 and we hope to sell out before the event. Tickets will be sold at the July meeting so start inviting your friends and family. A slight change to the seating arrangement. We will be sitting at tables this year. The tables will seat 8 guests per table so plan your seating arrangements accordingly. Yes, you'll be able to reserve tables again and yes, you'll be able to purchase wine by the bottle as well as the glass. We are hoping to fund our Soup Night through donations this year rather than to dip into the Historical Society's budget. So...if everyone will start talking to merchants, members and businesses and inviting them to make a donation soon that would really help us with our planning. Also, we're looking for local potters to help us with soup bowls. Any contacts would be greatly appreciated. And wait until you see this year's center pieces.

Cunningham home, about 1902

Same home, today

Location: 7789 Sunset Avenue; Architecture: Victorian

Previous Owners:

1897: J.H. and Emma Cunningham
1912: W.F. Wright
1920: S.W. and Alice Cartwright
1923: Dorothy Wilkes
1926: Willard and Flora Warner

1932: Clarence and Frances Shaw
1941: Morgan and Alma Keaton
1945: Carl and Leah Amundson
1947: Scott and Hazle Ross
1969: Robert and Mary Jakotich
1974: William and Wendy Wilson
1998: Diana Lennon

While this home has had multiple owners in it’s 110 year history, today it looks much as you would imagine it did in the early 1900s thanks to the efforts of current owner, Diana Lennon. Air conditioning, energy efficient windows, rewiring of electrical and plumbing work make this a comfortable home for the 21st century, but the charm and quality of the past remains.

In the living room, parlor and dining room original crown molding, door and window frames, ceiling beams and floors have been restored. Diana peeled through five layers of wallpaper to get to the original plaster but left behind little traces for future homeowners to discover. Today they are covered with beautiful Bradbury and Bradbury silk-screened Victorian wallpaper. Mid-century the porch area was enclosed to add a kitchen and family room. Upstairs can be reached from the entryway or the “servant’s stairs” in the kitchen, where there are three bedrooms, a sleeping porch and a bath. More steps lead to the third floor area, which is one large room with treetop views on all sides. After the starter home, a small farmhouse, burned in 1898, this home was built for the Cunninghams by an early settler, Joseph Broadley, a prominent Fair Oaks builder.

Many owners of the home have contributed to the growth and development of the area. J.H. Cunningham farmed oranges and almonds on his 15 acres and was the first president of the Fair Oaks Fruit Company. He is considered an original founder of Fair Oaks after moving from Minnesota. The Cunningham family included 10 children and they eventually moved to another home on Sierra Way.

W.F. Wright, an established realtor in the area purchased the home for his uncle to live in. Willard Warner was an executive for various laundry companies in Sacramento. Carl Amundson was a WWI veteran and his wife, Leah was a nurse during the war. He later was a farmer in Elk Grove and Fair Oaks. Dr. Robert Jakotich was a vet who owned Sunset Animal Medical Center, which is now separated from the house by the Serbian Orthodox Church built in 1978.

Diana Lennon, a member of the Fair Oaks Historical Society, is currently adding a bedroom and bath to the ground floor and will continue to keep the integrity and history alive. In the last 12 years, she has discovered bottles, broken china and cans as she works in the yard. Construction crews recently discovered an old clay sewer pipe. The basement and attics have stored memorabilia, some of which decorate the walls of the home. All of this adds to the story of the house and Diane will continue to gather information and items so future generations will know about the early days of Fair Oaks.


We're still working with the San Juan High School Centennial Committee to deal with historical materials related to the High School. One thing we noticed is that the FOHS History Center collections include almost all of the yearbooks from San Juan High School. The Alumni Association has their own collection and graciously donated some duplicates in their collection to FOHS, so we now have almost complete sets of yearbooks in two locations.

We're still missing the yearbooks for 1921, 1923, 1936 and 1983. If you've got some dusty SJHS yearbooks in the attic and would consider donating them to the Historical Society, we'd be delighted to receive them.

The "What's New" section of the website was getting a little long, so I took the opportunity to do a little redesigning of the home page to make it easier to navigate. Take a look.

And finally, I've heard rumors that some Mac users are having trouble with a few of the links in the website. That's not a new issue, and I occasionally put in or leave out a symbol that PC's don't need but Mac's do. So, if you have any problems with the website, be sure to let me know so I can investigate.