History of the Shasta-Hanchett Park Neighborhood

History of the Shasta-Hanchett Park Neighborhood

(Note: The content on this page was formerly part of the HSJ website, “Neighborhoods of San Jose,” created circa 2007, and now inactive.)

The Shasta Hanchett Park neighborhood in San Jose, California, is located just west of the downtown area. The neighborhood includes four areas: Shasta Hanchett Park, Garden Alameda, St. Leo’s, and Cahill Park. Shasta Hanchett Park is a unique combination of residential, commercial, and industrial areas.

Shasta Hanchett Park occupies land that was owned by Mission Santa Clara de Asís and Roberto Balermino. The land between Mission Santa Clara and the Guadalupe River, Rancho El Potrero de Santa Clara, served as pasturage for the mission’s herd of several thousand cattle. In 1844, Los Coches Rancho, a Mexican colloquialism for “The Pigs,” was granted to Roberto Balermino, a Native American educated at the Mission Santa Clara, by Governor Manuel Micheltorena. In 1847 Balermino sold his land to Antonio Suñol. Suñol divided the ranch into thirds, keeping one-third for himself, giving a third to his daughter Paula and her husband Pierre (also known as Pedro) Sainsevain, and selling the remaining third to Henry Morris Naglee.

The Alameda, which bisects Shasta Hanchett Park, is part of El Camino Real, Spanish for the “Royal Road” or “King’s Highway,” the first true road in California. It connected the 21 missions, 4 presidios and 3 pueblos of Alta California. The Alameda, Spanish for “tree lined street,” has served as a transportation corridor between San Jose and Santa Clara for over 200 years. In 1799 hundreds of willow trees were planted by 200 Native Americans under the direction of Father Magin Catala. By providing a pleasant, shady walk Father Catala hoped to encourage the pueblo residents to attend mass at the Mission. In 1862 Hiram Shartzer’s Turnpike Road Company improved The Alameda and began operating it as a toll road. The cost of maintaining the road, especially in the winter months when it became very muddy, was too much and the road was sold to the County of Santa Clara in 1868. Later The Alameda was home to stately Victorian Mansions and beautiful gardens.

The Alameda also served as a thoroughfare for many forms of public transportation. In 1850 a stagecoach made the nine-hour trip between San Jose and San Francisco, via The Alameda, three times a week. The San Jose and Santa Clara Railroad Company was founded in 1868 and began laying tracks for a horsecar line from San Jose to Santa Clara via The Alameda. The horsecar made its inaugural 45 minute journey on November 1, 1868. Twenty years later, The San Jose and Santa Clara Railroad Company began constructing an underground electric trolley line. When completed, the mechanical problems were so frequent that service was suspended and the horsecars returned. In 1889 the underground electric system was removed and replaced with an overhead electric system that ran up and down The Alameda until the mid 1930s, when the system was replaced by buses.

The east side of Shasta Hanchett Park, near the railroad tracks, was mostly industrial and included business such as California Canners and Growers, Fredericksburg Brewery, Muirson Label Company, CalPak Plant #51, and Union Ice. The Fredericksburg Brewery began in 1869 when Gottfried Frederick Krahenberg opened a brewery in a small brick building on the corner of The Alameda and Cinnabar Street. In 1872 Theodore Lenzen designed a castle-like brewery and malt house that were built on the same site. In 1888 Fredericksburg produced 53,000 barrels of beer. Fredericksburg ceased production in September of 1918, shortly after the city of San Jose passed a “pre-Prohibition” ordinance. This law allowed for the sale of beer and wine in restaurants only and the city issued 17 permits to restaurants for this privilege. After Prohibition was repealed, San Francisco brewer Jonny Wieland purchased the “castle” brewery. In the 1950s Falstaff Brewing Corporation bought the building, but later moved production to their San Francisco plant. The building was torn down in 1980. At the opposite end of the block, Muirson Label Company operated on Stockton Avenue between Lenzen Avenue and Cinnabar Street from 1914 to 1970. California Packing Corporation, which later became the Del Monte Corporation, Plant #51 on the former White Street, processed and packed dried fruit.

Between 1859 and 1901 the 76 acres of land situated between The Alameda, Race Street, Park Avenue, and Hester Avenue was known as Agricultural Park. Operated by the Santa Clara County Agricultural Society, the park served as the county fairgrounds and hosted livestock fairs, fancy dress balls, traveling circuses, and exhibitions for everything from fruit to quilts. It included a horseracing track, bicycle velodrome (track), baseball fields, and picnic grounds. During to the depression of the 1890s, the park was too expensive to maintain and the land was sold to Peninsula Land & Development Company, headed by Lewis E. Hanchett, in 1901.

In 1905 Lewis E. Hanchett acquired the former Agricultural Park from the Peninsula Land & Development Company. He decided to sub-divide the land to develop a “desirable” neighborhood. The sales brochure stated, “We challenge comparison with any subdivision offered anyplace on the Peninsula, as far as quality of the improvements and location of tract are concerned.” The amenities included electric streetlights, flush toilets, and a septic tank sewer system. Residents bought a lot and then commissioned an architect to design a home that met Hanchett’s design standards. Most of the homes were built between 1915 and 1930.

Shasta Hanchett Park continues to be a thriving community of residents and businesses, concerned with preserving their neighborhood’s history and character.

Did You Know?

  • The Alameda has served as a private road, city street, county road, and state highway.  Today it is part of California State Highway 82.
  • In 1871 Dr. James M. Dawson revolutionized the fruit industry in the Santa Clara Valley when he packed 350 cases of canned fruit at his home at the corner of The Alameda and Polhemus (now West Taylor Street).
  • In 1896 San Jose had its first Carnival of Roses which reoccurred occasionally. In 1926 it became the Fiesta de Las Rosas. The three day festival included a Grand Floral Parade from Santa Clara Mission, along The Alameda to downtown San Jose. The final festival was in 1969.
  • In 1903 the 9th Cavalry, commonly known as the Buffalo Soldiers, camped at the former Agricultural Park on their way to patrol duty in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
  • Learn about Shasta Hanchett Park by visiting Label Legacy: The Muirson Label Company.

San Jose City Landmarks

  • Babe’s Muffler Service (1954) on The Alameda.
  • Bank of Italy/America Building (1926) on The Alameda at Hester Avenue.
  • CalPak District Manager’s Office (1914) on The Alameda near Bush Street.
  • Charles O. Bocks Residence (c. 1925) on The Alameda near Randol Avenue.
  • Clara Louise Lawrence Residence (1922) on Randol Avenue near The Alameda.
  • 848 The Alameda, formerly Schurra’s Candies (1878-1881)
  • Old Hoover School (1931) on Park Avenue near Randol Avenue.
  • Towne Theater (1927) on The Alameda near Hester Avenue.