Nestled in the heart of Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, the six-acre Peralta Hacienda Historical Park provides youth and families with a space to connect, build community, and celebrate their heritage. The park, once the headquarters of a 45,000-acre cattle ranch of the Peralta family, contains a historic house museum, a multipurpose activity center, community gardens, outdoor exhibit areas, and a special nature area along Peralta Creek. The park acts a recreational and education hub for the local community, as well as a regional center for historical and ecological inquiry and discovery.

Earlier this year, the organization worked with NCCLF’s consulting team to analyze the financial feasibility of developing a 28,000 square foot area located at the center of the park. This is the park’s Historic Core, where the Peralta adobes once stood. The new space will house a stage, an educational activity structure to commemorate the 1821 Peralta adobe (Oakland’s Founder’s Rock), a food events area with a community banquet table and an adobe oven, an archaeological viewing station, and a Pavilion of California Cultures that will provide a large indoor community assembly space for Fruitvale for the first time.

In December 2015, NCCLF awarded the park a $15,000 grant and a $75,000 forgivable predevelopment loan through our Community Catalyst PreDevelopment Program to finance the project’s predevelopment activities. The organization is initiating a capital campaign and is considering pursuing New Markets Tax Credits to finance the project.

Serving a very diverse community, the park aims to blend the history and ecology of the region with the cultural histories of its nearly 40,000 annual visitors – 95% of which are low-income. Featured park programs include the Athena Art Project, which brings local youth and students from the California College of the Arts together to create community art projects; Sharing Oakland Stories (SOS), which offers youth filmmaking opportunities; and the “Home and Away” exhibit, which encourages people both home and “away” in prison to share stories; Camp A.C.E. (Arts Culture and Environment), an outdoor educational summer program that serves 200 youth aged 5-15 and mentors 50 at-risk high school age interns; the Community Exhibit Development Program, in which Fruitvale and Oakland cultures create exhibits in many media; the Community Gardens Program in which refugee and immigrant elders connect to age-old farming traditions; and its flagship School Field Trips program which serves 100 local public schools, awakening awareness of the contributions of many cultures to our region through fun, hands-on, curriculum-related activities.

“Fruitvale, with its population density, high percentage of youth and dazzling diversity, is desperately in need of community gathering places. This project will bring people together and continue our work to build a cohesive community,” said Holly Alonso, Friends of Peralta Hacienda Park Executive Director.

People of all cultures, ages, races, sexual orientation and backgrounds come here to tell their stories and share in community activities. “A community member said it perfectly: The park “wraps its arms around you.” The key word is ‘welcome.’ This place is critical for the people of Fruitvale to find unity in diversity,” said Alonso. “This project will revitalize Fruitvale and foster economic development in a way that accentuates its character, history, and culture.”