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Sunday, August 23, 1981

Historical Tidbits

Ernest D. Wichels

The Vallejo Rotary Club, one of several of the city’s many service groups, is planning a celebration later this year to’ make the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1921.

Under the leadership of its current president, Rear Adm. Joseph Rizza, the Superintendent of the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. a civic program will highlight this anniversary.  In 60 years the Rotarians have played a part-in, or initiated, many city and county projects.

To enumerate just a few, we would include the founding of the Crippled Children’s Society of Solano County, now the Easter Seal project; the sponsoring of the collection and shipping of food and clothing to the war refugees in Marseilles, France, and Genoa, Italy, following World War II in 1947 via the CMA training ship, Golden Bear; the cornerstone laying and deposit of time-capsule for the John F. Kennedy Public Library; the recent construction of the flag concourse atop the Maritime Academy hill.  Rotary and Rotarians have made significant contributions to the Children’s Wonderland on Amador Street including the Children’s Theatre and the Teapot post office.

The local club brought Boy Scouting to Solano County (Dixon) and Vallejo Troop No. 12 saw a history of more than 50 years.  The charter membership in 1921, and the dedication meeting in 1922, saw these names which most readers will recognize: William Widenmann, Dr. James J. Hogan, Dr. J. Carson Magill, Jesse Godley, Wade Madren, S.M. Levee, Harry Handlery, Jack Thonston, Ed Perry, J.J. Madigan, Dr. E. J. Casper, W.D. Pennycook, Thomas Smith, J.V. O’Hara, Ray Bangle, Dan Brosnahan, Lou Bauer, T.V. Collins, Sam: J. McKnight, Ferry Hatch, P.J. Hanlon, Lert Denius, Sidney Hicks and Bob Walker.

“B and B” accomodations for the traveler have long been known in Europe, especially in the British Isles, and on our own Eastern seaboard. In the past such B and B overnight accomodations have been rare in the West we do not refer to those motels, etc., that serve coffee and doughnuts in the office or lounge, but honest-to-goodness breakfast for overnight guests.  “Bed and breakfast’’ can now be found in most tourist towns in California, and the popularity is growing.

For instances, in San Francisco there are four unique B and B innsÂ? the old Spreckles Mansion (1887), a baronial family home overlooking Buena Vista Park; the Monte Cristo (1870), of the oldest hotels in the city’s; the Hermitage House (1900), built for Judge Slack; and the Queen Anne, originally built as Miss Mary Lake’s School for Young Girls.  Here in Vallejo we have a completely renovated hotel which now classifies as a B and B enterprise the Hotel Vallejo Bed and Breakfast on Virginia Street.

Napa and Solano County residents are proud of their State Historical Landmarks Solano has about 12, including No. 574, the parking lot at York and Georgia streets, the site of the state Capitol in 1851-1853, and No. 751, designating Mare Island as the first U.S. Naval Station in the Pacific.

Napa has 14 or so, and the best known are perhaps the Bale Mill (No. 359), Krug Winery (563), Brannan Cottage in Calistoga, (No. 685) and the Hobert Louis Stevenson Memorial atop Mount St. Helena (No. 710).

But there is another, No. 314, in Butte County; while seldom visited by Solanoans or Napans, it is most interesting memorial to all Californians.

This historical marker commemorates two events. First, it was the site of the first orange tree planted in Northern California, still bearing, and known as the “Mother Orange Tree” because practically every navel orange in this part of the state was originally traced to scions from this tree, planted in 1856 by a Judge Lewis.

Also, it marks the location of California’s first suspension bridge. It was transported from New York via Cape Horn in 1853 and completed in 1856.

With the building of the Oroville Dam on-the Feather River about two decades ago, it was found that the waters could completely inundate the two historical objects, and they were moved further upstream in this Bidwell’s Bar area, and rededicated.