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How It All Began
In February 1973, a contract was let by the Southern Pacific Land Development Company to demolish the Southern Pacific train depot in Livermore. Built in 1892 but no longer used, the depot was in bad shape and Southern Pacific wanted to develop the land. The contractor, who was given the demolition rights, offered his services in exchange for the lumber, valued at S500, which was going to be reused to build horse stalls.
On February 24"' an article ran in the local paper stating the depot had been given a temporary reprieve because a group of citizens expressed a desire to save the old depot from destruction. This group consisted of members of the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society, the only historical society in the valley at the time. As part of the reprieve, the group was supposed to file a report regarding possible uses for the depot. One of the conditions was that Southern Pacific Land Development Company wanted the depot removed from the site.
In March and April of that year, meetings were held to establish a plan for saving the depot. The consensus was that the depot definitely was in bad shape. It was estimated the cost to move the depot and place it on a new foundation would be about $35,000. Additional monies would then be needed to restore the inside of the structure. The results of this meeting were published in the paper and the tone of the article was one of despair. It appeared that at this point the group was losing interest in the depot's future.
Another meeting was held in May to again discuss the depot's future. The papers reported that only four people were present for this meeting. The paper also reported that previous meetings had been attended by as many as twenty people. Again, this set the tone that the depot's future was in serious doubt. What wasn't reported was that three of the four people who attended that meeting were not part of the original group who had been working to save the depot, When she realized the initial group's interest was waning, Janet Newton, an original group member, had begun calling local citizens whom she thought would be interested in saving the old depot. This was the start of what is today the Livermore Heritage Guild.
The new group began forming its own plans to save the depot. Their plans were leaning towards refurbishing the depot where it stood and making it part of the redevelopment plans. They petitioned the City Council to present their preliminary proposal.
In late June, the group again appeared before the City Council. The City Council voted to a stay of the demolition permit based on the newly formed Livermore Heritage Committee's preliminary proposal. No one realized the demolition was already in process inside the depot. Southern Pacific Land Development Company had, that same day, sent the contractor in to be-in dismantling the building, working from the inside out.
The second day of demolition a reporter passing the depot saw the workers tearing apart the inside of the building and notified the newly formed committee. Committee members, with haste and determination, were successful in shutting down the dismantling operation.
The following day the local paper reported that the only reason the depot was not totally destroyed was that the contractor's tractor had broken down, so he started dismantling the building by hand. When this article appeared in the paper it seemed to propel the local interest in saving the depot to new heights. The Livermore Heritage Committee gained more members and momentum. Soon after, the organization was incorporated and officially named the Livermore Heritage Guild. Eighteen months later, in 1974, the Southern Pacific depot in Livermore was fully restored and opened to the public as a restaurant on the same site it had occupied since 1892.
Today, twenty-five years later, the Livermore Heritage Guild, an all-volunteer organization, still works to preserve the history of our city. The "Guild", as it is known to many, has not only played apart in the preservation of the old depot, but also Ravenswood, the Duarte Garage and Trevarno. A Guild member assembled the first historic resource survey of the community which was adopted by the city's Historic Preservation Committee in 1977. In 1978, a Guild member was instrumental in getting the D.J. Murphy house at Third and McLeod Streets accepted on the National Register of Historic Places. Members of the organization also document the history of the community through articles in the Guild's newsletter and in books and pamphlets. The organization has supplied research information on many of this city's historic businesses, personalities and residences to organizations, the city and individual private citizens who share our love for the Valley's history. The Guild Officers and Board members want to thank all of you who have supported our efforts during these twenty-five years with your membership contributions and volunteer efforts. The Livermore Heritage Guild couldn't have done it without your support, THANK YOU!