Rialto's historic 1853 adobe celebrated
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10:00 PM PDT on Saturday, June 2, 2007
The Rialto Adobe came back to life Saturday for festivities celebrating its history and that of the adjoining cemetery.
About 100 current and former city residents toured the one-room adobe, built in 1853, and walked through the cemetery, noting graves of family members and prominent residents. Music, food, craft activities and self-guided cemetery tours were organized by the Rialto Historical Society.
The inside of the 18- by 28-foot building has been decorated with period artifacts that include parts of an old covered wagon and a section of wooden pipe believed to have carried irrigation water. An iron bed, wooden chairs, a pot-bellied stove and cooking utensils give the building the look it might have when Englishman Michael White built it and used it as a temporary home while overseeing his Mexican land grant.
The building also served as a stage coach rest stop and an animal exchange depot, where riders left exhausted horses for fresh ones when riding back and forth to Rancho Cucamonga.
During the Prohibition years, the adobe housed a wine-making operation, said Rialto historian John Adams.
It was donated to the city by the Isadore Strommer family, its last owners, and moved from its original location on Walnut Street, now the site of the Rialto Unified School District Office, to its current location in Bud Bender Park, formerly Lilac Park, in 1961.
In 1967, the Rialto Adobe was designated a state historical building.
A number of former city residents and graduates of Eisenhower High School attended Saturday's events, organized by Jennifer Selbert, 63, of Laguna Woods.
Selbert and her committee located and identified the graves of former teachers, doctors, police officers and other prominent city residents. An alphabetical listing and map indicated the locations of graves, which were also marked with helium balloons.
Adams led an informal walk through the cemetery, which has about 4,100 graves. He pointed out the resting places of Dave Manuel, who built the cemetery and dug its first grave; Edmund Strommer, whose father made wine in the adobe during Prohibition; Milo Meddock, who bulldozed the city's orange groves in the 1950s to make way for housing tracts; and Margaret Todd, for many years the city's only kindergarten teacher.
At many of the graves, he related an anecdote or remembrance about the deceased.
Linda Bunting Smith, 62, came from Prescott, Ariz., to attend Adobe Day. She grew up in Rialto, where her great-grandmother built Rose Courts, a collection of Sears Roebuck redwood kit houses.
"The city has a wonderful history and it's great to walk around the cemetery with John," she said.
Cardiff resident Connie Blair Coe, 62, was delighted to see that the adobe and cemetery have been so well maintained.
"My grandparents are buried in the cemetery and coming here is like coming home," said Coe, who grew up in Rialto.
"Walking around the cemetery triggers a lot of emotions," said Adams, whose family owns the last orange grove in the city. "Here you can easily find your beloved teachers, store owners and doctors. The whole adult population you remember from your childhood is buried here."
BS Ranch Perspective:
It does come to mind that there is a great deal of Rialto's History that is around that Building, In Fact the first and only Officer to Die in the While On Duty is buried in the Cemetery as well as the store keeps and School teachers. There is some of the Clerks and Office Personnel that keep the records straight at the Police Department that are at the Cemetery too. Yes there is a lot of Rialto History there. I also say that one of the best Leaders of the Police Department is buried there. Chief Sid A Jones.