Something old, something new
The Alviso Adobe is a place of contradictions. It isn’t in Alviso; it’s the centerpiece of a small park in Milpitas. It is very old, built in the mid-1830s, but dedicated as a new park only a few months ago, in March 2013. Although it was the simple one-story adobe home for José Maria Alviso, wife Juana Balindo Alviso, and their nine children, restoration cost more than $3.75 million.
If you visit the old/new Adobe Park, you’ll notice many other contradictions. Although an expensive addition to Milpitas, the park is hidden in a residential development. In fact, you may drive past until you notice a small street sign indicating Alviso Adobe Court on Piedmont Road, just off of Calaveras Road.
With only six parking spaces, you may need to use nearby church parking lots. Hopefully, church neighbors will be charitable.
As you walk up the court to the park on a sunny day, you may be blinded by the bright reflections from freshly painted white buildings. And while the many picnic tables look inviting, the little apricot, walnut, fig, cedar, and olive trees are many years away from creating shade. The one big tree, a 165-year-old sycamore, is imposing but not as effective as some needed umbrellas.
Unlike most parks, there is virtually no grass. The easier-to-maintain decomposed granite hardscape is cleaner but less comfortable. The park, however, does feature eight picnic tables, four barbecue pits, four benches, and convenient rest rooms.
More important, this is an historical place. When the city of Milpitas acquired the Alviso Adobe in 1996, it was the oldest continuously occupied adobe house in California. The building is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The restoration of the entire exterior envelope has been preserved following Secretary-of-Interior standards. A detailed paint-color analysis found colors used in the 1920s.
The history is well documented through the use of several interpretative signs and a mixed-media piece, “The Little Alviso Water Tower,” that combines steel, acrylics, and photography in a unique historical display.
The “historic wagon” is an artistic interpretation of Señor Alviso’s 1830 transportation. Made of solid wood, steel, and copper, the wagon is decorated with apricot shapes and the name of the farm. A reconstructed water tower, garage, and cutting shed replicate earlier buildings.
Although the interiors of the historic structures are closed, perhaps one day they will be open to disclose more about the lives of earlier California pioneers. In the meantime, Alviso Adobe is a pleasant place to visit.
Beyond the Adobe
While in Milpitas, you can extend your trip by continuing east on Calavaras Boulevard less than a mile to Ed R. Levin County Park. This park has picnic tables, play areas, lakes and ponds, a golf course, and an off-leash dog park. It also offers equestrian facilities, hang-gliding, and 19 miles of trails over rolling grassland and oak woodlands that take you through 1,539 acres of open space. You can walk around a little lake, across manicured lawns, or up a rugged four-mile trail to the 2,594-foot Monument Peak. Parking is $6.
For more information, visit our website— www.mnn.net. On the right-hand column of the front page, click on Hikes and other Explorations, and then click on Ed R. Levin.
To explore a little more, drive past Ed R. Levin Park for a few miles east on Calaveras Boulevard. You’ll see some great views of hills and valleys. Watch for a turnout, park your car, and enjoy the peaceful quiet. It’s hard to believe you are so close to the busy Bay Area. Enjoy!