The Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesday group celebrated its first anniversary of weekly walks in Piedmont last Wednesday, April 17, a beautiful spring day. The group's first walk was one year ago, April 18, 2018. Since then, the walkers have assembled at the Exedra each Wednesday morning, rain or shine, and have walked almost every street in Piedmont.
The group has also grown significantly since its start. On its first walk, 16 walkers enjoyed a tour of the city conducted by Gail Lombardi, president of the Piedmont Historical Society. During the past year, 86 people have participated in Walking on Wednesdays, and the strength of the group was evident last Wednesday when a record 36 walkers and five K-9 best friends showed up - including first-time walker Harriette Louie. For its anniversary walk, the group welcomed historian Gail Lombardi, the president of the Piedmont Historical Society, to lead everyone on a tour of some of Piedmont's historic homes.
First visit was the Wetmore House, Piedmont's only historical site on the National Registry, next to City Hall at the corner of Vista and Bonita Avenues.
Gail talked about the Wetmore House's history. Long ago, the City wanted to buy the house, demolish it, and have a parking lot next to City Hall. The house was saved when Alice Erskine, an art teacher at Mills College, bought it, and began restoring it over many years.
As they walked, the group was struck by the beauty of the cherry and mock apple trees that were in full bloom in home gardens and city parks. In the last few weeks, the walkers have experienced the city's bright yellow blooms of daffodils and multi-colored tulips, and the winter rains seemed to have made the trees' blossoms even more spectacular.
The next historic home on the tour was that of Hugh Craig, the first mayor of Piedmont. Gail explained that the home was originally on a site in the middle of what is now Craig Avenue. It was moved in 1912 on logs pulled by horses to its current location a half block away at the corner of Craig and Mountain Avenue.
Next is Requa Place, the location of Isiah Requa's 1870's three-story mansion, The Highlands. The home was so prominent it was easily visible from San Francisco and
could be seen by ships in the Bay.
The magnificent home was later taken down by the family to sub divide the 17 acres, for the homes that now are on Hazel Lane, Requa Road, and Requa Place.
The tour continued to its last stop, the five-story home of early Piedmont developer Frank C.
Havens in Wildwood Gardens. The estate was named Wildwood and the names of Wildwood Avenue and Wildwood Gardens come from it.
Gail shared the story about Havens' wife having an argument with the home's noted architect. Bernard Maybeck. She took over the project and its design, resulting in the home's Asian interior motif.
At the suggestion of Priscilla Wanerus, a core member of the Wednesday Walkers, the group decided to celebrate its first anniversary by having a picnic lunch next to the Recreation Center.
It was a nice way to celebrate Walking on Wednesdays' first year and enjoy the community
they have created.