The weather was cold and the skies were dark but we never let these things hindered us to our next adventure. Few days after New Year, during our winter break Deelow and I ventured further inland. We followed the GPS and went through 680 and exit in Bernal Avenue following the road and turning to Foothill Road. It was seated on top of the hill for the road starts climbing up and we easily found it nestle among the trees and grasses. Isolated in the middle of the fields. We have reached the parking lot where there were few vehicles parked. We entered the mission style entrance and there was a tiled poster with a brief description of the area divided in 3 different periods.
“Alviso Adobe Community Park (5,000 Years of History in Seven Acres) – Pleasanton’s past and the rich stories of the people that have come before can be discovered in the landscape and features of this park. Three periods of occupation trace regional settlement from prehistory to the present day.
Native American Occupation – From as early as 3240 B.C., the valley was part of a permanent settlement of Indians. In the late 1700s, Spanish missionaries established the nearby Mission San Jose, claiming this land and using it for cattle grazing.
Hispanic and Early American Period – Ranching continued hereafter. Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1824 and the missions were closed. The property was gradually split into smaller parcels and sold, with tenant farming becoming its main use.
Dairy Operation – From 1919 until 1969, this is the home of the Meadowlark Dairy, the first and only certified dairy in Alameda County. At its peak, the property was filled with buildings, cattle, and activity.”
We entered and crossed the white, wooden bridge. There were some markers attached in the bridge detailing the history of the area before the construction of the adobe. Mostly, about the livelihood of the Native Americans in the land.
“A Bountiful Place – Water and abundant food sources sustained the Ohlone population in the Pleasanton Valley. For the Ohlone, fresh water was an important resource for living. The seasonal drainange provides habitat for native plant species, many that were used by the Indians for food and medicinal purposes.
The rock feature below, known as a bedrock mortar, was traditionally used by the Ohlone for processing acorns for eating. This is the only known remaining pre-historic feature in the park and is listed on the California Historic Register. The feature dates from perhaps as long ago as 3,000 BC and is most likely associated with one or more nearby archaeological sites from the same time period.”
Then we went to the main house which was a house with green and white paint on it. We went inside where they have the exhibit of the Meadow Lark Dairy. From reading the exhibits and looking at the pictures, Deelow and I got a more glimpse of the diary days of the adobe.
The passing away of Walter Briggs, the son of the original owner, subsequent estate taxes, and a change in market conditions triggered the end for the dairy. Sold to land developers in 1966, the dairy closed its operation at this location in 1969.
After the milk was bottled, it was placed into a walk-in refrigerator for storage until delivery time. A steam boiler was used for bottle and equipment sterilization. Ice for cooling and transportation was produced on-site in slabs.
Meadowlark milk was distributed throughout the local area, including the Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco, as well as the Veteran’s Hospital in Livermore, the Livermore Sanitorium, and the nearby naval base.
As the number of milking cows grew to over 250 in the early 1960s, a system of washing sprinklers was added in an alley leading to the milking barn.
So that is the dairy days of the Alviso Adobe, and as we walk around we saw some of the workers in the park. They were very nice and helpful. They gave us tips to where to go, their knowledge about the area and other more. They led us back to the main adobe where we would learn more about the Adobe house itself.
“Built-in 1854, the Alviso Adobe is one of the few adobe structures remaining in the Bay Area. Declared a California Historic Landmark in 1954, the building stans relatively unmodified since the 1920s. The adobe was continuous use from 1854 until the Meadowlark Dairy closed in 1969. During the dairy period, workers took their meals in the kitchen and dining room of this building.
The historic Alviso Adobe represents a type of building typically found during the Californios period after the missions disbanded in the 1830s. The missions offered parcels of pasture land to qualified applicants. Requirements to gain title to a land grant were to build cattle corrals, a dwelling and to plant an orchard.
The main marketable item produced on the ranches was cattle. FOr the Indians who had been under the guidance of the mission priests, life on the ranchos was similar to what it had been with the missions. They tended herds and helped raise crops.
Many families from different backgrounds have lived in and around the Alviso Adobe for over 100 years. Kand uses remained largely tied to animal husbandry throughout, while the emphasis shifted from cattle to dairy, milk cows constituted a significant segment of the herd from the beginning. The relatives of many of these families are still in the Pleasanton area.”
We finally went up the small hill where the original adobe was situated. It has been restored to its original form with the old rooms to its original functions.
“The Alviso Adobe, constructed in 1854, is actually two adobe structures connected only on the exterior. The larger adobe has three rooms and provided the main living space; the other structure may have first been used as a barn and then converted to a kitchen and dining area. The building, with its thick adobe walls, was designated to stay comfortably cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It was sited close to freshwater and took advantage of the commanding valley views. The majority of the improvements seen today date from the 1920ss Meadowlark Dairy period.
The adobe walls vary in brick sizes. The most common brick size in 2 3/4″ high x 22″ wide x 11″ deep. The interior wall surfaces are covered in plaster and whitewash. The exterior walls were clad in cement plaster to protect the adobe.”
“Over time, the Alviso Adobe was modified to meet the needs of its occupants. The structure suffered some damage in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and concrete arches were added to buttress the south wall. The building’s biggest changes occurred in the 1920s’ when it became an integral part o the dairy operation and was modified to provide shower/toilet facilities, a kitchen and dining area for workers.
Since the 1920s very few changes have been made to the building. Unoccupied since the late 1960s, the adobe fell into disrepair. A major stabilization effort by the City of Pleasanton in the later 1990s halted further deterioration. Recent improvements include seismic stabilization, some structural reinforcement, a new roof, restoration of the bathroom and shower area, and rehabilitation of interior finishes to evoke the building’s 1920s character.”
“The original adobe had three rooms. The two side rooms were used for sleeping quarters, while the large room was a gathering space for the family.”
“This structure may have been used initially to house animals. It was modified in the early 1920s to accommodate a kitchen and dining area for the workers. All the ranch hands would gather here to share meals and socialize. The 1950s remodel added ceiling cladding and replaced the 1920s cabinets and sink.”
After that, we walked around the grounds and checked out the other buildings around the area. There are other visitors in the park, mostly elderly. They were also nice and made some conversation about the park and California’s Mexican past. After that we went to the other buildings and there are information on the placards in front of the buildings. It has information about each one and here they are.
Dairy Manager’s House
“These low boundary walls show the approximate location of the Meadowlark Dairy manager’s house. The diary manager played an important role in day-to-day operations. His house had a kitchen, living room, office, and bedrooms. A half cellar under the northeast corner of the house was used for canning and as a laundry for the white dairy uniforms.”
“There were once many buildings on the Meadowlark Dairy complex. One important building was a place for the ranch hands and workers to sleep and socialize. This bunkhouse is a smaller version of the one that was at the dairy. The current Foothill Road runs through the original location of the building.”
At roughly 45 feet high, the Meadowlark Dairy silo was a distinctive visual landmark. This circular paving marks the silo’s approximate location. The original silo and barn were much larger. Silage, fodder for animals’s created by partially fermenting agricultural products, such as corn stalks, to enhance their nutritional value and preserve them for winter feed.
That ends our “tour” was you can call that a tour in the Alviso Adobe Park, hidden on the hills at the city of Pleasanton. The little story of the old adobe who became home to a dairy company that once served the Bay Area and now it’s a historic park to remind people of its Californio past.