Neighborhood Walking Tours
Free guided walking tours are small groups led by trained guides who are able to explain the architectural features and history of stops on the tour. Tours pass by homes but do not allow access. To see private residence interiors purchase tickets for the Open Homes Tour.
Information is available at the Stroll Heritage Plaza Information Booth
Each stroll lasts approximately 45 – 60 minutes. All terrain is flat on city sidewalks. Wear comfortable shoes and bring your camera. Stroll walking tours start at times and locations noted below.
2017 STROLL WALKING TOURS
VISIBLE HISTORY: DISCOVERING WOODLAND’S RENOWNED ARCHITECTURE AMONGST ITS SHADY TREES AND BIRDSONG
Woodland is renowned for its beautifully restored historic houses built in a wide array of styles encompassing 150 years of history. Woodland residents from yesteryear proudly created attractive tree-lined neighborhoods and, beginning in the 1960s, ambitious young preservationists seeking an authentic sense of place began renovating these unique homes, big and small, with a few dollars, frequent trips to Cranston’s Hardware, and the sweat of their brow. Woodland preservationist and author David Wilkinson and his longtime friend, collaborator, and preservationist architect and photographer, Roger Klemm, have walked and studied Woodland’s neighborhoods for 30 years; for them, each Stroll is fresh, rewarding, and embellished with new discoveries, surprises, and stories conveyed by homeowners and strollers alike. They will share their knowledge and enthusiasm during a fun and interactive leisurely stroll. This “early bird” tour, filled with birdsong from Woodland’s tall and shady urban forest, will crisscross south First College, and Second Streets and observe changes in housing styles precipitated by architectural innovation, revival periods, and technological and social changes. Learn the basics of Victorian, Shingle, Prairie, Colonial Revival, Mission, Craftsman, Bungalow, Art Deco, Ranch, and eclectic styles and the history behind the houses and appreciate first-hand why Woodland is the Jewel of the Valley and a City of Trees.
- 8:30 AM tour starts at 756 First Street (corner of First and Pendegast streets)
- Docents: David Wilkinson and Roger Klemm
FABULOUS FIRST STREET’S ARCHITECTURAL TREASURES: PARTS 1 AND 2
Richly diverse with a wide array of Victorians, including the California State Landmark Gable Mansion, First Street contains a stunning variety of well-preserved architecture spanning the period 1860 to 1940, epitomizing Woodland’s extraordinary cultural heritage and social history. The homes set along this beautiful tree-canopied street have been lovingly restored by many homeowners over the last 50 years, including the Victorian at 638 First Street, winner of a national Great American Home Awards Grand Prize for restoration work and the fabulous Gable Mansion. This exceptional tour encapsulates American architectural history within a few breathtaking blocks.
- Note: This tour will be divided into two parts to capture the grandeur and beauty of the entire street.
- Part 1– 9:00 AM Tour starts at corner of First and Lincoln.
- Docent: Chris Holt, Architect and Woodland Planning Commissioner
- Part 2—10:30 AM Tour starts at First and Cross streets in front of Gable Mansion
- Docent: Mary Aulman
COLLEGE STREET PIONEERS AND PRESERVATIONISTS
College Street has a variety of upscale house styles, including Victorian-era Italianates, Queen Annes, Craftsman Bungalows, and the first Modernist home built in Woodland in 1912. Join docent Barbara Graham, who has intimately studied this neighborhood over the course of leading this interesting walking tour for many years, for a step back in time to experience Woodland’s formative years. Learn about these upscale, renovated houses and who lived in them during the early days of Woodland. From a United States Congressman, a bank president, an author and a Women’s Christian Temperance activist, College Street was home to incredibly interesting and influential people. Fast forward a generation or two and meet some of the people who live on College Street and continue to preserve these architectural gems for us to enjoy today.
- 9:30 AM Tour starts at S/E corner of College & Lincoln streets (historic Woodland Christian Church)
- Docent: Barbara Graham
GOTHIC TREASURES, VICTORIANS, CRAFTSMANS AND TUDORs
Near the start of this tour strollers will see a charming Arts & Crafts Gothic Revival Church designed by a Berkeley master architect and later on a rare Gothic Revival home from the 1870s. Scattered throughout this tour are houses of many styles, shapes, and sizes, including Victorians, and many from the 20s and 30s, including Craftsman houses and an ancient Valley Oak tree with a bench providing shady respite on warm days. Join architect Roger Klemm, an authority and fan of Woodland’s architectural treasures, for a fun tour as he seeks out new and interesting observations and insights into the town’s exceptional neighborhoods.
- 12 noon Tour starts at S/E corner of Second & Lincoln streets
- Docent: Roger Klemm, Architect
DEAD CAT ALLEY
Featuring Jack Din with childhood stories of his family’s Tai Lee Laundry
In 1873 Sam Ruland had the misfortune of being robbed on Dead Cat Alley. Even before that time, the alley had already become one of Woodland’s most interesting landmarks. Today, most visitors are alarmed at the unusual name of the passage, but personal tales of “The Alley” bring its history to life. In 1853 Henry Wyckoff built a small store on the southeast corner of what is now First Street and Dead Cat Alley. The Tai Lee Laundry and the Din family later occupied the same building. 2017 Strollers will spend an hour to see how the commercial district grew from that corner and hear about happenings in the alley and Old Woodland. The tour will include 666 Dead Cat Alley, Woodland’s first post office and the Strand Theatre (“Woodland’s Photo-Play House De Luxe”), the town’s original railroad site and China Town – behind the Chicago Cafe, one of the oldest restaurants in California. Also to be shared are recollections from “A Run Around the Block” – a book by Woodlander Veta Griggs.
- 9:00 AM tour starts at Downtown Heritage Plaza, Second and Main
- Docents: Dino Gay and Rich Westphal (NSGW Woodland Parlor 30)
REBIRTH OF STATE THEATRE TOUR New Tour
The State Theatre had its grand re-opening in July 2017. Built in 1937 during the Great Depression, the State Theatre was the last in a long line of movie houses that dotted downtown Woodland beginning in 1908 when the first nickelodeon called the Grand-Elite Theatre opened in a storefront. The elegant Streamline Moderne style State Theatre, which brought sophistication to small-town Woodland, was designed by William B. David, who trained under the eminent Los Angeles theater architect, S. Charles Lee. After a 73-year run the State went dark for several years in 2010 until reborn as the State Theatre and Multiplex by Cinema West with assistance provided by the City of Woodland.
On this “insider’s” tour, the preservation aspect of the project will be explained by architect and interior design expert, James Howard of Cinema West. The historic Paul W. Hollingshead photos of the State Theatre were of crucial importance for the architects who meticulously restored or recreated the State Theatre lighting, ceiling mural (which had been painted over), original interior paint colors, and the traffic-calming exterior marquee and neon tower, which was taken down in the 1960s, leaving a long-time void on Main Street. In a “modern interpretation of the past” James will also explain how the interior design of the new multiplex lobby, café and new theaters were inspired by the architecture of the historic theater. The “Hollywoodland” mural in the lobby, designed by James, will also be discussed. Ken Hiatt will explain the crucial role played by the City of Woodland in making this exciting project a reality, including the city’s purchase of the aging theater and the improvements that transformed Main Street in front of the theater. Join the tour and come back in the afternoon for a movie on the big screen!
- 9:30 AM tour starts at the State Theatre, 332 Main Street
- Docents: James Howard, Cinema West, and Ken Hiatt, Assistant City Manager for Economic Development
DOWNTOWN WOODLAND’S RENAISSANCE TOUR New Tour
Woodland is a classic Main Street town and a slice of Americana, with many outstanding well-preserved historic buildings and others undergoing renovation by bold and enterprising owners. The entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But at the time town founder Frank Freeman settled in a small settlement called “Yolo City” nestled among an oak woodland in 1857, there was no Woodland, just a country store he ran, a blacksmith, and a modest house Frank built for his newlywed wife, Gertrude. In 1861 the Freemans secured a post office named “Woodland” by Gertrude, located in a brick commercial building Frank built at First/Main streets; a new town that would blossom into a prosperous and cultured small city was born. To honor the Freeman’s achievements, a new monument has been erected at Freeman Park, a joint project of author and historian David Wilkinson and the City of Woodland.
This tour will begin at Freeman Park, named by the city to honor Frank Freeman when it was developed in 1925. There will be a short ceremony to dedicate the Freeman Monument. Assistant City Manager, Ken Hiatt, will discuss plans for the new downtown hotel, to be built adjacent to Freeman Park, which promises to regenerate public use of this facility. Strollers will then walk a few blocks to the core downtown. Here we will get an overview on Downtown’s master plan update, being led by Woodland’s expert city planner, Steve Coyle. This community effort will provide the blueprint for Downtown’s transformation into a dynamic live-work environment with better lighting, quality in-fill architecture, and pedestrian safety.
We will hear first-hand stories from dynamic and creative developers whose capital, creativity, and tenacious effort is breathing exciting new life into our beloved historic district. Renovating century-old buildings is exciting, challenging, scary, and unpredictable at times as old layers are peeled back to reveal the bones of the buildings, where major surgery is applied to extend their lives. It is not for the faint of heart, but driven by passion and love. Local developers Ron Caceres and John Anagnostou, whose work is helping transform Downtown into a lively destination with big possibilities for future urban living, music venues, and interesting restaurants, will lead an inside tour of the Meier Car Dealership Building c1921, a major commercial rehab project which will open fall 2017. We will stroll by buildings that other owners have renovated to discuss their vision, designs, and the challenges of rehabilitating these venerable historic structures. We will also explore the Victorian iron storefronts in the downtown area, including those recently uncovered and restored to prominence after years of being buried beneath outdated architecture.
Don’t miss this unique tour as we learn first-hand how Downtown Woodland first began and how it is reinventing itself as a cool and unique destination spot for locals and visitors alike.
- 11:00 AM Tour starts at Freeman Park, Main Street (near Fifth Street)
- Docents: David Wilkinson, Ken Hiatt, Assistant City Manager for Economic Development, Steve Coyle, Deputy Director of Community Planning, Developers Ron Caceres and John Anagnostou, and other surprise guests