Annual Hayward Area Historical Society awards on Friday

The Selmeczki family outside their newly opened hardware store on Castro Valley Boulevard in 1926. From left, dad Pete, son Ernie, mom Mary and son Frank.

The Hayward Area Historical Society will hold its 13th annual history awards ceremony on Friday, and tickets are still available. We had a story on Pete’s Hardware in Castro Valley, which is being honored as a historic business.

This year’s other winners are Randy Wittorp for his work to restore his Tudor home on Prospect Hill in Hayward, the Hayward Municipal Band for years of summer concerts and other events, Hayward High teacher Peggy Hearne for her history-rich curriculum, Robert and Erica Campisi for their work to improve Cherryland and Meek Park, and Supervisor Nate Miley for his leadership in preservation efforts at the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery.

Find more information on all the winners in the HAHS press release after the jump.

Hayward Area Historical Society

Award Honorees – History Awards 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Historic Preservation Award
Randy Wittorp

1930s Tudor revival home

The Wittorp Home, located on Prospect Street in Hayward, is a model example of a historic home restoration project. Mr. Wittorp’s house is a Tudor revival with Storybook influences; the architecture is suggestive of an English manor house.  He made an exceptional effort to keep or restore everything that was original to the house, which was built in 1931, and to introduce elements that reflect the 1930s architectural style.  Mr. Wittorp extensively researched to determine period specific elements for the Tudor revival style house.  He also had assistance from the original owners of the home, who identified original elements and fixtures.

Lighting fixtures identical to the original were installed in rooms to replace those that had been removed previously.  The golden oak floors were sanded and refinished to uncover the beautiful star-like inlay.  Where elements had to be updated to meet modern building codes, Mr. Wittorp took care to preserve the historic integrity of those features.

The Historical Society honors Randy Wittorp’s outstanding efforts to preserve the historic integrity of his 1930s Tudor revival home.

Historic Business Award
Pete’s Ace Hardware, founded in 1926

Pete’s Ace Hardware has been a fixture in the Castro Valley community since it first opened in 1926.  It has been in the same location since it was founded by Peter Selmeczki.  Originally, when Mr. Selmeczki and his wife Mary first opened their store, the front half was stocked with hardware, while the back half was an auto painting shop.  Realizing that he could not simultaneously paint cars and provide the high quality service Pete’s Hardware was known for, Mr. Selmeczki chose to focus on hardware.  In the beginning, they catered to agricultural interests, as farms and ranches were prominent in most of the area.  As Castro Valley grew and changed, so did the store’s inventory.

Following World War II, the Selmeczkis’ sons, Frank and Ernie, returned to Castro Valley to take over the store.  Today, Ernie’s daughter Linda and her husband Jeff are the third generation operating the long standing family business.

The Historical Society honors Pete’s Ace Hardware as a family operated business serving the community for over 85 years.

Historic Organization Award

Hayward Municipal Band

Founded in 1957

Founded in 1957 by two Hayward city employees, Ed Mendonca and Tony Nunes, the 40-piece ensemble has performed for 55 years.  The musicians come from diverse backgrounds – school teachers, lawyers, and doctors – and range in age from early twenties to late eighties.

The band features a full woodwind section (flutes, clarinets, oboes, bassoons, and saxophones), brass section (trumpets, French horns, baritones, trombones, and tubas), percussion, string bass player, and a vocalist.  In addition to participating in many patriotic and community functions, the band performs free Sunday concerts in the summer at the Tony Morelli Bandstand in Memorial Park on Mission Blvd.  The two-hour programs include classics, modern, Latin, calypso, musicals, jazz, marches, and swing.

The Historical Society honors the Hayward Municipal Band for over 55 years of service to the community.

Educator of the Year Award
Peggy Hearne

Hayward High School

Peggy Hearne is currently a Social Science teacher at Hayward High School, where she has been teaching since 1997.  She also teaches 10th grade accelerated World History and college preparatory classes.  A native of the Bay Area, Mrs. Hearne attended Skyline High School in Oakland, and graduated from California State University at Hayward with a B.A. in Speech/Drama and History in 1974.  She was recently accepted to the graduate program in History at California State University East Bay.

In the classroom, Mrs. Hearne makes history “come alive” by actively engaging her students in a very profound and personal way.  History in her classroom is not about reading from an old, outdated text book, but from asking, for example, World War II veterans to come visit her classroom to talk about their lives and experiences.  She encourages her students to talk to their grandparents about past events, helping them to connect the past with the present.

Two of Mrs. Hearne’s greatest passions are teaching and history, and her career has allowed her to combine the two.  She believes that in over 34 years of teaching, she has learned as much from her students as they have from her, and she finds the greatest joy in working with them.

The Historical Society honors Peggy Hearne for her outstanding ability to connect students with history.

Community Service Award
Robert and Erica Campisi

Longtime Cherryland residents Robert and Erica Campisi have contributed much time and effort to the preservation of Meek Estate.  When Mr. Campisi, a retired plumber, saw that the fountain was in disrepair, he volunteered to make the repairs free of charge if the materials were paid for.  Repairing the fountain was only part of the project; Mr. Campisi wanted to make sure the fountain was historically accurate.  After consulting photographs, he noticed that the central bowl was missing.  He was able to locate it in the basement of Meek Mansion.  Mr. Campisi completed his fountain restoration in 1996 and shortly after, walkways around the fountain were installed.

Erica Campisi helped beautify the park by planting tulips on the grounds, echoing William Meek’s roots in horticulture.  Both she and Robert have been active members of the Cherryland Community Association since its inception in 1990 serving to protect the historic Cherryland neighborhood.  Both acted as president of the Association at one time.  They have lived in Cherryland for 45 years and have a passion for historic preservation.

The Historical Society honors Robert and Erica Campisi for their dedication to the Cherryland community and Meek Park.

John Sandoval Award
Nate Miley

Alameda County Supervisor District #4

Nate Miley has served on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors since 2001, and was appointed President of the Board ten years later.  He serves as chair of the Board of Supervisor’s Unincorporated Services, Social Services, and Procurement and Contracting Committees, and sits on the Transportation and Planning Committee.

County Supervisor Miley has been involved in community and public service for his entire adult life.  After completing law school in 1976, he moved toOaklandand began his community involvement by taking a position with the Oakland Community Organizations.  In 1986, he created the United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda Countyto empower older adults to improve their quality of life.

In our community, County Supervisor Miley helped to create a Memorandum Of Understanding for the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery between Alameda County and HAHS that specifies the involvement of the San Lorenzo Heritage Association, and community members.  In addition, he advocated for funding approval for the cemetery’s conservation assessment.  Without Supervisor Miley’s advocacy and passion for preserving the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery, it would not be in the opportune position it is today.

The Historical Society honors Nate Miley for his outstanding commitment to preserve the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery.


Eric Kurhi