Meek Mansion and Carriage House
Meek Mansion in 2008, photographed from the south end of Meek Park
|Location||240 Hampton Rd., Hayward, California|
|Area||10 acres (4.0 ha)|
|Architectural style||Second Empire, Italian Villa|
|NRHP Reference #||73000393|
|Added to NRHP||June 04, 1973|
The Meek Mansion is a historic mansion in unincorporated Cherryland, just north of Hayward. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located on nearly 10 acres, the Victorian house was built in 1869 by William Meek.
William Meek came to the West Coast in 1846, carrying seeds and grafted trees, via the Oregon Trail. He first settled in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, later moving in 1859 to Alameda County, where he spent the rest of his life.
By the time his mansion was built, Meek owned everything from Mission Boulevard to Hesperian Boulevard, and from Lewelling Boulevard to slightly past Winton Avenue, totaling around 3,000 acres (12 km2). The grounds were primarily filled with cherry, apricot, plum, and almond orchards. One source claims that the area became known as Cherryland because of the abundance of cherry trees planted by Meek. Meek became a prominent citizen during the remainder of his life, including being a trustee of Mills College and a County Supervisor for Alameda County. After his death in 1880, at the age of 63, Meek left his estate to his sons and it remained in the Meek family until 1940.
The Milton Ream family owned the last 10 acres of the original 3000, and in 1964 the home was purchased for $270,000 by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD). In 1965, the home was opened to the public and was used for weddings, tours, workshops, and even plays recreating local history. The mansion became a California Point of Historical Interest in 1972 and placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1973. However, the mansion was closed in 1982 due to wear and tear because of overuse. In 1991, HARD began to work with The Hayward Area Historical Society (HAHS) to upgrade and reopen the home.
Between 1964 and 2004, HARD spent $1.9 million in restoring the mansion, its carriage house, and grounds. After decades of review, in 2004 HARD agreed upon a deal to lease the mansion and its accompanying carriage house to the historical society for 25 years. HARD would continue to manage the accompanying acreage of park land surrounding the mansion and would continue to be consulted by the historical society with respect to planning and completing renovations. As of 2009, HAHS was reported to have spent about $600,000 in restorations, some of which involved upgrading the heating and plumbing systems. Completion of the restoration work will require an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million.
Once renovations are completed, the historical society plans on opening the mansion as a house museum where people may take paid tours focusing on the different historical eras the house has gone through.
An adjacent property, formerly part of the Meek estate, is being developed as a community garden.
The 7,902-square-foot (734.1 m2) mansion contains somewhere between 23 and 27 rooms (sources vary) located on three above-ground levels, with a cupola on the third floor. The home also contains a basement below-ground which has an "unusual" bracing system consisting of thick, diagonally placed timber boards. Having a bracing system such as this was uncommon for many area buildings, but was a wise move due to the faults in the area. Other architectural assets it includes is "a mansard roof, a bull's-eye window in the central tower and paired, arched windows". As of 2006, local historians were still unsure of who designed and built the home.
The edifice itself currently resides on 9.75 acres (3.95 ha) of land, which functions as a park with picnic areas, paths, and benches among other things.
Throughout the years, the home has over-gone several renovations. In 1910, bathrooms and running water were added to the home by Meeks' son who resided there. In the 1940s, the Ream family remodeled the kitchen, which is currently still intact in the home, as well as adding bedroom and ballroom space. Recent renovations include all new windows and a new roof to replace the last one that was put in place in 1985.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Holzmeister, Karen (March 24, 2004). "Mansion's owner created Bing cherry". The Daily Review (Hayward, CA).
- Abramson, Mark (September 26, 2001). "Retired teacher labors over Meek Mansion - Volunteer helps restore 1869 Cherryland home". The Daily Review (Hayward, California).
- "Mansion deal an historic accomplishment". The Daily Review (Hayward, California). April 1, 2004.
- "Meek Estate / Park". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- Holzmeister, Karen (March 24, 2004). "Mansion close to revival, thanks to Hayward historical society". Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, California).
- Kurhi, Eric (April 28, 2009). "Meek Mansion restoration turning inward". Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, California).
- Holzmeister, Karen (February 20, 2005). "Historic mansion being spruced up". Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, California).
- Eaton, Joe; Sullivan, Ron (22 December 2011). "Fertile ground for urban farm at old Cherryland". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Meek Estate". Hayward Area Historical Society. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- O'Brien, Matt (November 20, 2006). "Historic Meek Mansion hides surprises". Alameda Times-Star (Alameda, California).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Meek Mansion.|
- About the Meek Estate - Hayward Area Historical Society
- California Office of Historic Preservation Listing