Center preserves Fair Oaks' past

07/11/2013 12:00 AM

07/11/2013 7:53 AM

It once was farmland, later a mining town, and today it is comfortable with its identity as Fair Oaks Village.

Its past is being preserved by a group of residents and local historians who have open a new Fair Oaks History Center.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, the center will be open to display artifacts from the region's native beginnings through its evolution into a settled town.

The first settlers arrived on Nov. 20, 1895, brought to California by the promise of real estate. Quickly, settlers transformed the land into a small town known for its fruit and olive crops.

"Fair Oaks was originally the sun city of Sacramento County," said Jim Pearce, a historian for the center. The early colonists were wealthy, educated members of an Eastern publishing company who came to the West to build grand houses for their families.

"It didn't slowly develop as a suburban community," Pearce said. "It just happened as a retirement community."

The first house built on the river, the Straith House, still exists today after being built 113 years ago.

"It started out real strong and it still tries to maintain its character as a village," said Pearce.

Today, chickens roam free across the village, where small shops line the streets and local theater entertains residents.

"We take care of our own," said Trude Peterson Vasquez, the vice president of the Fair Oaks Historical Society.

"That's the village mentality that you will not find anywhere else in California."

Call The Bee's Brittany Torrez, (916) 321-1103.

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