History of Ravenswood, California
From: The Story of San Mateo County, California
By: Roy W. Cloud
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.
Chicago, Ill 1928


When the town of Ravenswood was first projected in 1853 it was thought that this thriving community would be the western terminus of the Central Pacific Railroad with the bridge across the bay of San Francisco. Had this bridge been built at an early date Ravenswood would probably have been one of the most influential towns in northern California, but because of the magnitude of the proposition the erection of a bridge was put off until a very late date. In 1853 because of the activity in the lumber interests in the southern end of the county an embarcadero was set up in what is now Ravenswood. I. C. Woods, Racket, Judah, and William Rowe purchased lands known as the Steinburger property and platted the town called Ravenswood. An extensive and costly pier was built to deep water, blocks were sold and houses were erected, a store was opened by William Paul and considerable activity was displayed. It soon proved, however, that as a shipping point Ravenswood would not be a success. Real estate activities decreased and after a time the property came into the possession of L. P. Cooley and Michael Crowe.

In 1874 the second flurry in this section occurred when Hunter, Shackleford & Company started a brick manufacturing concern. This plant was by far the largest of its line in San Mateo County. Below Ravenswood at the mouth of the San Francisquito Creek was Clark's Landing and here in 1873 Capt. W. C. Wilson erected a large and commodious warehouse which for years was used by the farmers of the section who hauled their grain to this point and shipped it by schooner to San Francisco and other bay points. In 1874 when Menlo Park was incorporated, Ravenswood was a part of that municipality, and Mr. L. P. Cooley was the second mayor of the city and continued in that office until its disincorp oration.

One of the visions of the late Collis P. Huntington was the building of a drawbridge at Dumbarton Point so that the distance around the bay might be shortened and so that the transcontinental traffic might be brought direct into San Francisco across San Mateo County and up to its terminus. It remained for later engineers of the Southern Pacific Company to finally bring to pass the project which had been started in those early days. When the Southern Pacific finally took up its work of building the bridge from Dumbarton to a point near Newark in Alameda County it was estimated that the cost of the completed structure would be around ten million dollars. There were engineering features to be overcome, but finally a bridge of seven spans with a drawbridge in the center was completed over the southern end of the greatest bay in the western world. The distance by road from Oakland to San Francisco by way of the Dumbarton Bridge was lessened some twenty six miles from its old route by way of San Jose. All of the piers sustaining the various sections are of concrete built into casings which had to be sunk through the water and sticky mud of the bay; but overcoming all difficulties this fine piece of engineering was finally accomplished.

Ravenswood, though included in the municipality of Menlo Park, was part of the Redwood City School District and the school known as the Creek School of the Redwood City School District was located upon a half acre of land donated by A. McKendry and dedicated to the education of the youth of the land. In 1882 the people of the section asked that they might have a separate school district of their own. Their request was granted and in that year the board of supervisors of San Mateo County set them apart and constituted them as the Ravenswood School District.

The life of the community was uneventful until Mr. Charles Weeks, with a vision of what might be accomplished on acre and half acre farms, if intensively cultivated, secured a large portion of the Ravenswood district, subdivided it, calling the place Runnymede, after that famous meadow in Merry England where King John met the knights of old and granted them the Magna Charta. Mr. Weeks not only sold this property, but lectured daily to the people, giving them his ideas concerning the intensive farming and poultry raising and his ideas became known as the Weeks Plan. Those who bought met varying degrees of success, but almost immediately the growth of the section began and within almost a year of the time of his opening his subdivision the school in the district grew from a struggling little institution of some seven children to a flourishing three teacher affair with over one hundred boys and girls in attendance. It was found that the old Creek school would not accommodate the rapidly growing community, so Mr. Weeks donated a tract of four acres in the Runnymede section. The people bonded the district on July 1, 1918, for $20,000 and constructed a very beautiful big building with four classrooms and an assembly hall. In 1922 it became apparent that there was not sufficient room for the boys and girls, so a second bond issue for $28,000 was passed for the purpose of changing the auditorium into two class rooms, building of two additional class rooms and the erection of a larger auditorium. The larger auditorium was made necessary by the fact that all of the civic and religious bodies of the district made almost nightly use of the place. During this past month, July, 1927, a third bond issue of $20,000 was voted in order to further add to the school facilities of this district.

Ravenswood has formed its own sanitary district which really acts as an improvement district. A $30,000 bond issue was put over to give the section Spring Valley water and complete sanitary equipment for every dwelling. Electric lights make the streets safe at nights and with a good sewer system and gas and electricity available everywhere this is indeed a choice location.

In 1917 during the great World war the O'Keefe tract, the property of James T. and D. E. O'Keefe, of one hundred acres was leased by the government for the remount station of Camp Fremont and here literally thousands of horses and mules were kept for two years for the use of the infantry, cavalry and officers at Camp Fremont. With the close of the war the remount station was discontinued, but the properties just across the Willow Road on the lands Of Ira Merrill, William Cooley and Lansdale & Hoag were purchased by the Government and over one million dollars was expended for the erection of a United States Veterans Hospital. Here, at first, those who had been gassed or were tubercular were sent. Later it became an institution for mental cases, but at the present time it is very largely used for rehabilitation and cure of tuberculosis for soldiers in the service or who had been in the service of the United States Government. The buildings are large and complete in every detail. They are reinforced concrete, of a Spanish type of architecture with tiled roofs and present a very pleasing appearance, set amidst the oaks and beautiful green lawns.

Ravenswood is made up of a number of sections. The residential portions are North Palo Alto, Menlo Oaks, and Ravenswood, and the fine wide asphalt roads which have just been put into these sections make of them as pleasing home sites as can be found anywhere in California. The city of Palo Alto has pushed over into San Mateo County in this section and some very beautiful homes have been erected. In the extreme northern part of the district some of the older and beautiful homes of San Mateo County have long been places of delight and Ringwood Park with its cluster of mansions is a delightful place.

The part of Ravenswood known for a time as Runnymede is made up almost entirely of small berry farms and chicken ranches and thousands of eggs and hundreds of crates of raspberries are daily shipped during the season to the markets of San Francisco. One of the largest hatcheries in this section of California is located on the old Michael Crowe homestead and is the property of Mr. J. H. Stubbe, and here during the hatching season thousands of day old chicks regularly leave every day for stations all over the Pacific Coast.

During the '90s Archbishop Riordan of the diocese of San Francisco secured the old Emmet Doyle property as a gift from the owner, Mrs. Robert Johnson, and began the erection of St. Patrick's Seminary. This institution has become one of the most important in the Catholic life of California because here the boys in their early teens come to receive the education which will prepare them for a life of service in the priesthood. They receive the four years of regular academic high school work and then the eight years of intensive study which prepares them for work in the ministry and, going out into the churches of the land.

The largest accomplishment in the Ravenswood District was the construction of the Dumbarton Bridge, which was completed early in 1927.

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