Posted in Area's attractions, Auburn, Auburn, Buyers, CA, CA, Market news, Placer County, Real Estate, Sellers

Neighborhood of the week: Auburn’s Historic Aeolia Heights

Stately manors, contemporary castles, Prairie-style abodes and quaint cottages comprise the neighborhoods of Auburn, California. The mix of vintage homes and modern manses of Aeolia Heights Рone of its most charming and unique neighborhoods is steeped in history.

Auburn is known for its collection of handsome homes in beautiful vintage neighborhoods, and none are more diverse than Aeolia Heights. Perched on a knob of land above the canyons cradling the American River, this cluster of homes sit atop local history. In Auburn’s early years, when the lower part of town held saloons and hotels and gold dust paid for a meal or a night’s lodging, the territory to the southeast was covered with scrub. When the tracks of the Central Pacific Railroad clacked into town, the line ran through the east side of the city, opening the hills to new development. But the land above El Dorado Street remained rural until Frederick Birdsall took an interest in growing olives. A respected businessman, Birdsall was the owner of the Bear River Ditch, a water distribution network used to supply water to the mining camps for prospecting. The company eventually supplied Auburn’s domestic water supply. Birdsall also held interests in a store on the Foresthill Divide and a reduction mill in Nevada used for processing silver, and owned shares in a narrow gauge rail line constructed between San Joaquin and Calaveras counties. But in the mid-1870s, word spread into Northern California that ranchers in the south part of the state were having great success producing olives. Horticulturists in the foothills – and Birdsall – were anxious to add olives to Placer County’s burgeoning fruit-production industry. In 1877, Birdsall, bought 70 acres of the hillside land east of town to try his hand at growing olives. He and his wife, Esther Stratton, built a home on the mountain then planted thousands of olive trees across the hill’s rounded slopes. They named the estate Aeolia Heights, which could be a reference to Aeolus, the mythological Greek god of the winds. The ranch specialized in raising varieties of olives that would yield large amounts of oil. Once the trees were producing, the Birdsall Olive Company constructed a brick and stone processing plant on site. Most of the local growers started with Mission variety olive trees, which Spanish padres first introduced to the California territory. Although the Mission olives adapted well to foothills conditions, many ranchers experimented with varieties even better suited to the climate and soil. By trying different grafting techniques, the other growers eventually developed strong root stock for olives to be pickled in brine. But the Birdsalls pursued producing varieties for oil and repeatedly received awards for their products. The native New Englanders raised five children in their Aeolia Heights home, including Ernest Stratton Birdsall who took over management of the family ranch and olive oil company in 1900. He continued the family tradition, producing award-winning olive oils while becoming a leader in the industry. He also became a leader in government, successfully winning election to the state assembly in 1907. Two years later, he became a state senator and held the office for eight years. He resigned to assume the position of assistant cashier of the Placer County Bank in Auburn. Ernest’s son-in-law, Wes Haswell, assumed management of the olive oil company and remained in the leadership role until 1972. A quartz monument placed in 1990 near the intersection of Aeolia and Olive Orchard drives notes the many contributions made to the community by the Birdsall’s extended family. Today, the processing plant is a private residence, and most of the olive trees are gone, making way for crops of new homes. But family monikers – such as Blair, Haswell, Maribel, Stratton and Thirza – live on as street names on the mountain.

Source:  Auburn Journal June 10, 2005

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Posted in Auburn, CA, Market news, Placer County, Real Estate, Sacramento

Sacramento Tri-County Home Sales Increase 12%

Home sales in the greater Sacramento tri-county area rose 12 percent in December from the same month a year ago and the median sale price climbed 8 percent as the region continued to grapple with a shortage of inventory, according to a new report by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Northern California’s leading real estate services

Source: Sacramento Tri-County Home Sales Increase 12%