Tag Archives: the Villages

Rethink the Evergreen tradition of Golf

Evergreen - Page 029, Atlas: Santa Clara County 1956, CaliforniGolf, the Scottish sport, has been a part of Evergreen’s green landscape for a long time.  In fact, Reid-Hillview Airport borrows half of its namesake to the Golf Course paved to make way for its construction.  The other half was of Hillview Golf Course was cleared for Eastridge Mall’s development.  You can see it here in a 1969 road map, before Tully Road ran through to Lake Cunningham.    Hillview Golf Course would’ve enjoyed uninterrupted views of the hillside and surrounded by Evergreen’s orchards until the neighborhood grew up around it.

Speaking of closed golf courses, Pleasant Hills Golf Course off White Road closed in 2004 and reverted back to a dairy farm with little to no alterations.  Its golf shacks are an attractive canvas for graffiti artists.

country-clubSilver Creek Valley Country Club, built in 1992, is a well scored course, privately owned and maintained.  The Golf course and Club house are separate from the Club’s homeowner’s association and amenities.  You can live here inside its gates and still not enjoy the golfing freely.  This Silver Creek Valley Community was built on top of ancient Ohlone camps and a historical tribute can be seen at the Clubhouse, to the left of the entrance.  The Villages Retirement Community is also open to its residents and members.  This private clubhouse also hosts pieces of Evergreen history in its Cribari Center.

slider2The Ranch Golf Club is open to the public and less exclusive than Silver Creek and the Villages.  Tee times are had more easily.  The Ranch Club is built atop the Hassler Ranch and its rolling vistas.  Across 101,  Los Lagos Golf Course at the far west end of the Rancho Yerba Buena and Evergreen on Capitol Expressway near Coyote Creek is also a public course.

BUT golf is boring to most residents.  It’s where the Pleasant Hills Course closed, not enough demand to keep it open.

cam12957In finding funding for the Evergreen Mural Walk, I find brand new places in Evergreen I’ve never heard of.  I usually don’t like to GPS things until I exit Evergreen.  So when I stumble on to something new, it’s nearly unheard of.

Here at the Western boundary along Coyote Creek, near Hellyer Avenue and 101, I found a new version of golf, open to the public that I’d never heard of before but now that I’ve done some digging around, it looks so cool.

imagescam12962One of your friends has a Frisbee laying around if you don’t, or you can find equipment over at Big 5.  It’s Disc Golf.

Being along Highway 101 and exposed to coastal gusts, this would be a challenging game no matter how good you are or how excellent conditions were.  This course takes advantage of Evergreen’s hills and scenic views.

disc-golfThis game has players aim into chained buckets to make their way across the course.  Though some of the Hellyer courses chains are missing or loose, you can still aim through the hoop and have a great time.  I’m sure if we used it more, we’d see some better maintenance of this public park and its awesome course.  If you’ve never played before, you must try it.

Wehner Mansion – a house by many names

Sadly, lomasazulesthere are only a few original structures left from Evergreen’s early days.  There aren’t Victorian homes standing like there are downtown.  The old timers know the old town by the hundreds year old oak trees that marked their old homes.  These relics from the 1800’s are obscured by trees and fences for the most part.  This one is tucked back into the hills of the Villages Retirement Community, empty and unused.  The absence of warmth to this one time brimming mansion is one of the sadder things I witness in Evergreen.  Personally, I would love to it restored in time for my own wedding.  This is the Wehner Mansion, but over time, it’s had many names.

Heritage Room azules.pdfThe initial 718 acre property would be purchased in 1887 for $20,000 from Mr. McCarthy and construction would begin the following year.  Built by German immigrant, William Wehner, it was originally named the Villa Lomas Azules or Blue Hills Estate for its stunning color.  It is only fitting that Wehner’s house be colorful.  William Wehner (1853-1916), after coming to the United States from Hanover, Germany in the 1850’s, would be a famous Chicago painter, painting large scale panoramic paintings commemorating the Civil War.  His Evergreen home would became a winery as Wehner planted 175 acres of vineyards within a couple years.  William Wehner’s White Wines were award winning in 1888 and into the 1890’s.  Wehner would come to own and plant over 3000 acres of vineyards.

5985327859_3f314741f2_bThe Blue Estate or Villa Lomas Azules was a 3-story, Queen Anne style home built into the hillside.  The construction on the mansion was finally complete in 1891.  It was built by famous Chicago skyscraper builders from the firm of Burham and Root, designed by Richard Burham.  It would be the only home the firm ever designed.  The Mansion’s main architectural feature was its archway entrance for carriages along the bottom floor, but I love all the rounded features.  The Mansion also has a full basement, which later became wine storage.  The Blue Estate had an outdoor kitchen and a garden house, as well as a winery added in 1908.

P1310186 (2)In 1915, Wehner would sell the winery and vineyard portion of the estate to Albert Haentze.  The two men had a lot in common.  Haentze (1896-1947) was another German immigrant vintner from Chicago.  His main occupation before coming to California was a mortgage broker.  Haentze came to Evergreen and bought Wehner’s vineyard.  Mr. Albert Haentze would become the leader of the Santa Clara Valley Grape Growers Association until Prohibition.  Haentze renamed the winery Rancho Villa Vista.  William Wehner sold his vineyards in the knick of time.  Prohibition closed down the Evergreen wineries in 1918 and Wehner passed away only a year later.  The Santa Clara Valley Grape Growers would then consider canning grapes and crushing grapes for juices and syrup.

housevin-villagesIn 1933, Italian born, Benjamino Cribari (1859-1942) would purchase the first portion of the Villa Lomas Azules.   With Prohibition having been lifted, the Italian immigrant would raise his vineyards for altar and traditional table wines.  In 1940, the Cribari family would come to own the rest of the property.  It would then be known as the Cribari Mansion.

cribari1Benjamino Cribari, born in the Calabria, Italy, would come to the United States at the age of 29.  With his wife and two small kids in Italy, Benjamino would work on the railroad for a couple years before returning home to his family.  In 1902, the young Cribari family would relocate to Colorado and then California, where they bought 40 acres of land east of Morgan Hill.  At first, Benjamino, a farmer, would only sell wines to his friends and family before he needed to acquire more land to compete with his growing demand for Italian style wines.

The Cribari Wineries would move operations back to Morgan Hill in 1959.  The Blue Estate’s future became unclear.

P1310098In the meantime, the Mirassou Family vintners would come to lease the property.  They would rent the independent winery for winemaking and the full basement for storage.  The oldest winemaking family in America would use the historic facilities until its historic operations also had to relocate in the 1980’s.

P1320410The Evergreen wineries were being pushed out by development and a growing suburb.  Several developers purchased the property before the Villages were finally built around it.  The Historic value of the Victorian mansion is recognized by the condition of the home is quite questionable.  There’s much discussion about preserving the historic home, but the fruits of those discussions are yet to ripen.  It’s a beautiful piece of Evergreen’s history and someday, we’ll see the Blue Estate shine again.

Here’s our artwork which features the Wehner Mansion.

1940 1885