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History of the Sequoia High School Campus

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Sequoia's Campus had originally been a part of the large Las Pulgas Rancho (Ranch of the Fleas) granted to the heirs of Jose Dario Arguello by the Mexican Government in 1835. The Board of Land Commissioners, established by the United States government after California gained statehood in 1850, confirmed the Arguellos' title to the rancho in 1853. During the confirmation process the Arguellos sold a 2,200-acre parcel to one of the three land commissioners, William Carey Jones. Jones in turn sold the property to San Mateo County lawmaker Horace Hawes in 1857. Hawes, author of the legislative bill that created San Mateo County, constructed an elegant, well-landscaped estate along the old county road on the forty acres site of the future high school. In 1880, Hawes's widow sold the "Hawes Farm" to Moses Hopkins, brother of Mark Hopkins, who raised and bred thoroughbred horses on the renamed "Redwood Farm". Hopkins built Emerald Lake as a water supply reservoir for his ranch.

On July 2, 1902, cement magnate William J. Dingee purchased the Hopkins estate, remodeling the house and outbuildings and transforming the grounds into "Dingee Park". The house, which was completely destroyed during the 1906 earthquake, was located on the present site of the main school building. Remaining as evidence of this period of occupation are the concrete entry path and associated planting beds with decorative benches built by Dingee after 1902. These features once fronted the house and now act as a handsome ceremonial entry for the school. Dingee converted a rockery at the rear of the house into a scene with cascades and fountains with a rustic covered structure called a summerhouse built in its midst. This natural feature would be translated over time into Sequoia High School's "Garden of Cherokee" and later as the "Japanese Tea Garden". A failed attempt to corner the cement market bankrupted Dingee.

In 1909 ownership of the property passed to noted San Francisco architect Albert Pissis and his wife Georgia. It was under Pissis that the land was greatly improved and developed. It was Georgia Pissis who offered to sell the land for municipal use in 1920. Redwood City rapidly prepared and passed school bond issues for the purchase of the property and construction of the new facilities for Sequoia.

Sources: The Cherokee Manual, Sequoia Union High School, Second Edition, 1930 and Third Edition, 1941 (A handbook for Sequoians published by the Associated Students of Sequoia Union High School)

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared by Kent L. Seavey/Preservation Consultant, on behalf of the Sequoia High School Alumni Association, September 1, 1994

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