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Willow Glen History

Some interesting historical facts about Willow Glen, California

Willow Glen Elementary School's original building on Lincoln and Pine avenues stood on land donated by Royal Cottle, brother of Ira Cottle, for whom Cottle Avenue was named. Royal Cottle was a strong advocate for education and donated part of his 140-acre Willow Glen farm for the community's first school: Willow Glen Elementary School.

Lincoln Avenue was originally called "El Abra," but by the mid-1860s, its name had been changed to Willow Glen Road. Shortly after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, residents agreed to call it Lincoln Avenue.

A streetcar took turn-of-the-century Glenites down eucalyptus-lined Lincoln Avenue to downtown San Jose.

Skyrocketing land prices in Willow Glen are nothing new. In 1887, Willow Glen farms cost 10 times as much as other farms in the San Jose area. Willow Glen farms produced wheat, barley, potatoes, onions, beets and corn easily and in abundance, earning the community a reputation as one of the best farming areas in San Jose.

Immediately after the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association formed in 1973, its members lobbied to keep the city from widening Bird and Pine avenues, which would have been turned into major thoroughfares. The association's efforts were successful and the city dropped the road-widening projects.

Less than one dozen merchants formed Willow Glen's first business association in the 1920s. In 1949, members renamed the group the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association.

In 1927, there were seven commercial businesses on Lincoln Avenue. In 1928, there were eight. In 1929, there were 19, and by 1930 there were 32.

The Willow Glen Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1863, the same year as Willow Glen Elementary School. Initially, the church met in the public schoolhouse at Lincoln Avenue and Malone Road.

In 1936, Willow Glen residents voted 978 to 871 in favor of annexing to San Jose. The main reason had to do with Willow Glen's poor sewage system. There was no citywide sewage system; rather, individual septic tanks were located beneath each home. Annexing to San Jose was the cheapest solution to Willow Glen's sewage problems.

The Roberto-Sunol Adobe, adjacent to the Willow Glen boundary across Los Gatos Creek, is the oldest home in Willow Glen. It was originally the ranch house for the 2,219-acre Rancho de Los Coches, owned by an American Indian from the Santa Clara Mission named Roberto.

Taken from "The Willow Glen Neighborhood: Then and Now" by April Halberstadt. Republished on Willow-Glen.com with the author's permission.

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