Land Park

Local officials seem determined to save the William Land Golf Course after the operator said the course may have to shut down after nearly a century due to financial losses. But some residents offered other possibilities.
Local officials seem determined to save the William Land Golf Course after the operator said the course may have to shut down after nearly a century due to financial losses. But some residents offered other possibilities. Courtesy of Dave Henry

Many people are drawn to Land Park because of its attractions — the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town and William Land Park, for whom the neighborhood is named.

But the people who populate the place also are attracted by its proximity to downtown Sacramento, its wide, tree-lined streets and the friendly atmosphere.

“We love the schools, the park and the proximity to the restaurants on Freeport Boulevard and the retail establishments in the area,” said Mark Abrahams, president of the Land Park Community Association.

Residents and visitors will be able to sample fare from several popular area restaurants and wineries at the Taste of Land Park event June 10. And they’ll be able to tour six to eight homes during the Land Park Home Tour in September.

Abrahams has lived in the area since 1991, when he attended McGeorge Law School in nearby Oak Park.

“I never dreamed we would stay,” he said. “It’s a great place to raise children.”

Jim Jeffers, a Realtor with Lyon Real Estate, said Land Park homebuyers appreciate many things about the neighborhood.

“There’s a long list of attractions,” Jeffers said. “The zoo, Funderland with children’s rides, Fairytale Town, tiny-tots park, wading pool and swings, Little League baseball at Dooley Field, Freeport Bakery, Dad’s (Kitchen), Jamie’s Restaurant, the Tower Theater, the Easter Egg Hunt and numerous running events at the park.”

Dad’s and Jamie’s both have been featured on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

“I love the friendliness of Land Park,” Jeffers said. “The benefits are great neighbors and wide range of ages and cultures.”

Another Land Park landmark is Vic’s Ice Cream, which has offered homemade ice cream since 1947.

“It’s the ‘Cheers’ of the neighborhood,” said Paula Swayne, a Realtor with Dunnigan Realtors, who remembers how one of the original owners, Ash Rutledge, made her feel like she was the only customer he had.

Jeffers and his wife bought a home in Land Park in 1999.

“We ended up meeting more neighbors in one month here than we met in one year at our last house,” he said.

Jeffers lives next door to an original homeowner whose husband was like a grandfather to Jeffers’ two children, stopping by every day with pretzels and stories for the youngsters. The man died a few years ago, but Jeffers helps the man’s wife, who calls when she needs something.

“It’s a little like the town of Mayberry, with all the characters,” Jeffers said.

When Ellie Shaw moved to Sacramento and a job in midtown that required her to work late, she knew she didn’t want a long, night-time commute, so she chose a home in Land Park.

“It was an established community with mature vegetation and was less than two miles from work,” she said.

She also met many of her neighbors in a short period of time.

“When you walk the dog on a regular basis, you meet the dogs, too,” she said. “People have a sense of pride and community and take care of their homes.”

Because of the many trees in Land Park, street drains often get plugged up when it rains, but someone always goes outside and unplugs them, Shaw said.

“That kind, considerate neighborliness is typical of Land Park,” she said.

“Land Park is a very stable, solid neighborhood identified by the park, the beautiful canopy of trees and the ease of bicycling and walking,” said Craig Powell, who grew up in Land Park. "It’s (like) a quiet Midwestern town in the middle of a busy city.”

Powell is president of the Land Park Volunteer Corps, overseeing crews of approximately 90 volunteers who trim bushes, plant shrubbery and clear ponds.

“People are very engaged,” he said. “I see that with the volunteer corps at levels that surprise us. I am astonished at the number of people who give their time and money. It’s a sign of a healthy community.”

People who buy homes in Land Park tend to stay. The neighborhood has custom homes and a few condominiums and duplexes. Approximately 33 resale homes are currently on the market.

Prices range from $231,900 to $1,425,000. The median price is $372,700 for a 1,577-square-foot home.

It’s not your usual buyer that wants a house with 2,500 square feet,” Powell said. “Very savvy buyers understand that it’s fairly expensive for the square footage, but the sense of community and location is what they are after.”

Buyers can own a piece of history, as most Land Park homes were built in the 1930s and 1940s, and each is unique in style, Powell said.

Schools in Land Park are highly rated. They include Crocker-Riverside Elementary School and two private kindergarten-througheighth-grade schools, Holy Spirit and Brookfield. Also in the area are California Middle School and McClatchy High School.

“We have great teachers, plus amazing parent participation in all the schools,” Jeffers said. “That’s the key. Parents make the difference.”

Most residents of the neighborhood commute to jobs downtown, which is about a five-minute trip, Jeffers said.

“Some ride their bikes, but you see all kinds of transportation, even a few electric cars,” he said.

William Land Park is the focal point of the community, Powell said. It’s named for William Land, a businessman and hotel owner, who, when he died in 1911, left Sacramento $250,000 for a public park. Land served as mayor for one term, from 1898 to 1899.

Though not much is known about Land, his legacy is noted in the park and golf course that bear his name. The nine-hole course, which opened in 1924, was the first golf course in Sacramento, Swayne said.

In the 1860s, the area that’s now the zoo served as a Civil War military camp, Camp Union, according to Jocelyn Monroe Isidro, author of “Sacramento’s Land Park, the Images of America” book series. The troops did field exercises where the baseball field is now located, said Powell, who has heard of bullets from that earlier era being found in the area.

Today, William Land Park has picnic areas, barbecues, three fish-stocked ponds, two softball fields, three baseball fields, a soccer field, a basketball court, the golf course and many visitors.

“It’s our neighborhood park during the week, quiet and peaceful, and like a city park on weekends, with a number of activities,” Powell said.

Street parties, July Fourth fireworks displays and other gatherings are common, he said.

“It’s easy to socialize with the neighbors here,” he said.