The Rink in Rosemont is a popular skating rink and favorite venue for birthdays and familiy gatherings.
The Rink in Rosemont is a popular skating rink and favorite venue for birthdays and familiy gatherings. Dave Henry

When Jo Ann Cabral Wilson was growing up in the Sacramento area, she lived on a 40-acre ranch that her parents purchased in 1927.

It was in a remote area between the city of Sacramento and Rancho Cordova.

"We had a dairy, olive trees, grapes and just about every farm animal you could think of," Wilson said.

She married and moved into her own home in 1965 and over the years has watched the area grow into the Sacramento suburb of Rosemont.

Wilson, a first-generation Californian, has an affinity for details. She serves as historian of the Rosemont Community Association, is a board member of the historical society in neighboring Rancho Cordova and is compiling histories of the area.

Rosemont was first known as Brighton Township and was primarily farmland, fruit orchards, turkey and chicken ranches and cattle and strawberry fields, Wilson said.

In the early days, the community extended beyond its present boundaries. Today, Rosemont is bordered by Watt Avenue on the west, Bradshaw Road on the east, Folsom Boulevard on the north and Jackson Road on the south.

The community got its name from Rosemont Development Co. Inc., which built the first planned neighborhood, Wilson said.

"The first homes in Rosemont were built just east of Manlove Road," Wilson writes in the community-news website Rosemont Patch. "At one time, I remember that property being a large ranch ... with a two-story home and lots of orange trees. That's where the Rosemont Cabana Club used to be."

She remembers that the first grocery store in the area was Lucky's Supermarket, built in 1961. It occupied the building that's now Rite Aid Pharmacy. Wells Fargo Bank opened at about the same time in the same shopping center, Wilson said.

"In the old days, we would go to movies every Monday night at the Oak Park Theater, which is now the Guild Theater," Wilson said.

Her parents were born in the Azores islands of Portugal, and their families moved to Sacramento in the early 1900s.

In the 1950s and '60s, her mother, Mary Cabral, hosted a program on radio station KROY.

"She was what you might call a Portuguese DJ," Wilson said. "She played Portuguese music, gave information on community events and had several well-known businesses as her sponsors."

Wayne Saunders moved to Rosemont in the early 1970s, where he, his wife and youngsters enjoyed the friendliness of neighborhood gatherings and the good schools.

He recalls a large sign in the community that had a young girl on a rocking horse and the words, "For Your Kid's Sake, Live in Rosemont."

The sign was part of a campaign for Rosemont's fluoridated water, which was promoted as good for children's teeth.

Wilson said she's looking for that sign.

"I hope it's in storage somewhere," she said. "I'm sure somebody who lived in Rosemont took a picture of it."

Wilson would like to include it in her collection of historical photographs.

"I like Rosemont the way it was," she said, adding that she thinks it's also a wonderful community today. "Everybody is so friendly. People look out for each other."

Rosemont is centrally located, close to Highway 50. From the community, residents can get around easily to shop at Country Club Plaza and in Rancho Cordova and Folsom, Wilson said.

Rosemont has four Sacramento Regional Transit light-rail stations for convenient commuting downtown or to Folsom.

"We live in a little community with access to a big area," Wilson said.

Terry Dugan, vice president of the Rosemont Community Association and a board member of the Rosemont Community Foundation, has lived in the area for 37 years.

"One of the things high on our minds now is having the correct identification," Dugan said, referring to a recent criminal incident nearby. "That was a few 100 yards away, but it was outside of Rosemont. The community is coming together around negative and positive issues. We have a Neighborhood Watch program and have launched a park-watch program."

A grass-roots walk to the park a few weeks ago showed solidarity among residents, he said, and a recently formed Sheriff's Activities League program is targeting middle-school students in Rosemont. The program seeks to build relationships between law enforcement officers and young people in the community.

The community association is encouraging residents to maintain and improve their homes and landscaping.

"Rosemont is one of the few neighborhoods in Sacramento that's blessed to get free energy audits of their homes," Dugan said.

The community also is promoting water conservation through the California American Water District, which serves the area.

Rosemont's annual community meeting, which will be held Aug. 11 at Rosemont Community Park, attracts crowds who visit informational booths set up by Neighborhood Watch, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and other services. Last year approximately 1,300 people attended the event, which also featured games, a petting zoo and free food, Dugan said.

The community association awarded scholarships to two Rosemont High School seniors for their community involvement and academic achievement. The association also is promoting a Revitalizing Rosemont program to encourage people to shop in the community.

Realtor David Yaffee of Century 21 grew up in the Sacramento area and has lived in Rosemont since 2005. He likes the community's central location close to downtown Sacramento.

"It's definitely nice to be able to hop on light rail and spend an evening downtown," he said.

Yaffee also likes being near the American River Bicycle Trail

"Some (home) buyers find the closeness to the river attractive," he said. "It's definitely a plus. Generally, the three most popular things Rosemont offers homebuyers are more bang for the buck, larger lots and central location. They get more home for the price, and the location is good for people who work in downtown Sacramento, Folsom or in the county buildings nearby."

Rosemont is part of Sacramento City Unified School District and has one of the newest schools in the area, Rosemont High School. Students also attend Albert Einstein Middle School and Golden Empire, Sequoia and James Marshall elementary schools.

With the proximity of Capital Christian School, parents also have the choice of enrolling their youngsters in public or private schools, Yaffee said.

First-time homebuyers like the affordability of Rosemont and investors like the proximity to California State University, Sacramento, Yaffee said. Investors can rent homes to students and faculty members.

Depending on the location and size, homes range in price from $120,000 to $200,000.

Area businesses include supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, commercial industries, the California State Franchise Tax Board, National University and a roller-skating rink. Rosemont also has 10 to 12 churches, six parks and a golf course.

"Rosemont is a good place to live," Wilson said.