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Monday, September 11, 2006

Vallejo Neighborhoods: Vista de Vallejo

James Kern

The Vista de Vallejo neighborhood is located in central Vallejo, near Vallejo High School. The housing development was started in the 1930s but this section of Vallejo has a significant history dating well back into the nineteenth century.

The hill, now covered with beautiful homes, was once the site of the Good Templars’ Home for Orphans. Thousands of children lived at the orphanage from its founding in the 1870s until it closed in 1919. After a few brief years as a golf course, the hill was developed into a housing tract.

Gertrude Hudson, whose family home stood on Winslow Avenue near the Vista de Vallejo neighborhood, recorded an oral history interview for the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum in 1987, at the age of 97. These are her recollections of her home and the neighborhood:

“Although the house is in the middle of town now, when I was a child… it was out in the country with only a few neighbors anywhere around. In fact, it was so far out that we couldn’t go in to Vallejo to go to school. My sister and I went to the Orphanage School which was up on the top of ‘Mortgage Hill.’ That’s what we used to call it. But the school was part of the Vallejo Public School system. It was not run by the Good Templars.

“There were two small school buildings on the Orphanage grounds in which they taught grades one through six. The teachers were Vallejo teachers. There were lots more orphans than ranch kids who attended classes. There was no distinction between the ranch children and the orphans. We played together and studied together and were all friends.

“I remember in good weather… the cooks at the Orphanage always served us lunch picnic style, out in that beautiful grove of eucalyptus trees that is still near the top of ‘Mortgage Hill.’ I still recall they always served pickles. Somehow we didn’t have pickles at home. Chow-Chow and relishes, yes, but we never seemed to have pickles. And those pickles were special.”