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Center of attention at Heritage Day

Visitors to last year’s  Heritage Day took advantage of the chance to see just how much work has been done recently inside the 161-year-old sandstone mansion. Check it out for yourself this year on Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- Photo by Richard Wisdom

Visitors to last year’s Heritage Day took advantage of the chance to see just how much work has been done recently inside the 161-year-old sandstone mansion. Check it out for yourself this year on Oct. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Photo by Richard Wisdom


The 4th Annual Heritage Day will do more than offer a glimpse into the rich history at Marsh Creek State Park, it will provide a look at the future as well.

Presented by McCauley Olive Groves and co-hosted by the John Marsh Historic Trust and California State Parks, the Oct. 21 free event will be held at the iconic Stone House built by pioneer Dr. John Marsh in 1856. There will be live music, presentations about the house and John Marsh, and State Parks Senior Archaeologist Richard Fitzgerald will talk about the site’s 7,000-year-old archaeology.

This year there will be two donation-requested hikes: The vistas of Marsh Creek State Park with Ger Erickson, or a trek around Marsh Creek Reservoir with the Contra Costa County Flood Control District. The East Contra Costa Historical Society will present a special display of antique farm equipment and tools.

There will be kids’ activities to do, tri-tip sandwiches and hot dogs to buy, Knightsen 4H animals to pet, and a rare peek inside the 161-year-old house to take.
The problem, said Trust Executive Rick Lemyre, is that it’s not enough time.

“As much fun as it’s been to put on Heritage Day for four years, it still only gives people access to the park one day a year,” said Trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre. “We want to improve that.”

On Heritage Day, the Trust will announce a drive to fund a new Interpretive Center Project being planned with State Parks that will be located at the front of the Stone House. The interpretive center would provide shade, picnic tables, parking, restrooms and informational signage about the Stone House and the Marsh Creek State Park. It could also be opened to drop-in visits on regularly scheduled weekends, provide a rally location for hikes or bike rides, or be a place to enjoy a picnic lunch after visiting a local U-pick farm.

A conceptual drawing of what the interpretive  center could look like. The center would allow  the Marsh Creek State Park to be open on a regular basis,. Image by SDG Architects.

A conceptual drawing of the interpretive center could look like. The center would allow part of the Marsh Creek State Park to be open on a regular basis,. Image by SDG Architects.


“The center will also make it easier to host classroom field trips,” said Board Chair, Mac Kaiser. “Education is one of the major things the park has the ability to support. We’ve already hosted some class field trips, and we’re working with the Brentwood Union School District, Los Medanos College and State Parks to develop the programs that meets local students’ needs.”

Heritage Day 2017 officially opens at 10 a.m., although people interested in going on one of the two hikes should plan to arrive between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m. A donation of $5 or more per person is requested for either hike, both of which are over moderate terrain. Participants for the hike are strongly encouraged to wear sunscreen, long-legged pants and closed-toe shoes, as well as bring water.

The Brentwood Concert Band will play starting at 11 a.m., and local favorite Durt Cheap will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. Presentations by State Parks Archaeologist Richard Fitzgerald, Trust President Gene Metz, and Marsh reenactors Tim and Ginny Karlberg will be on-going all day.

A 3D video presentation of the Stone House’s interior and some newly shot footage will be shown in the front yard of the house all day. At 1 p.m., Lemyre and other Trust members will talk about the drive to raise $90,000 for the new Interpretive Center, and present conceptual drawings of one possibility.

“This is very exciting,” Lemyre said. “Regular public access to Marsh Creek State Park is about to begin, and we’re asking for help to make it happen as soon as possible.”

Heritage Day is coming!

A family of Heritage Day visitors poses as pioneers for a souvenir photo during Heritage Day.

A family of Heritage Day visitors poses as pioneers for a souvenir photo during Heritage Day.


The 4th Annual Heritage Day is set for Oct. 21, 2017. Hosted by the John Marsh Historic Trust and California State Parks, the free event includes displays and presentations on the area’s unique and varied cultural history, a special display of antique farm tools and equipment, live music by the Brentwood Concert Band and local favorites Durt Cheap, and plenty of hands-on educational activities for kids.

New this year will be horse-drawn carriage rides around the park near the house, offered for a small suggested donation. We’ve also added a second hike; one through part of the usually closed park, and a second led by County Flood Control around the Marsh Creek Reservoir next to the Stone House.

Reenactor Tim Karberg, as Dr. Jhn Marsh, tells a Heritage Day crowd about the life of one f California's earliest American pioneers. -- Photo by Richard Wisdom

Reenactor Tim Karberg, as Dr. John Marsh, tells a Heritage Day crowd about the life of one f California’s earliest American pioneers. — Photo by Richard Wisdom


Historical reenactor Tim Karlberg will provide insights into the life of pioneer Dr. John Marsh, and guests will have a chance to see and hear about the remarkable, 7,000-square-foot sandstone mansion he built in 1856. Learn about the latest efforts to stabilize and restore the building, take a peek inside the windows and doors, and check out a new, 3D video of the interior.

There will also be presentations by State Parks Senior Archaeologist Richard Fitzgerald on the 7,000-yearl-old archaeological site located by the house, as well as information on the entire 3,700 park, the largest historic park in the State Parks System.

Free activities for the kids will include learning to throw a lasso, digging for artifacts, grinding acorns and a chance to experience a little of what it was like to cross the country in a covered wagon.

The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hot dogs and tri-tip sandwiches will be on sale.
Admission is free, but donations to support the Trust’s on-going effort to restore the Stone House and open the park will be gratefully accepted.

Ger Erickson points out features of the Marsh Creek State Park and its surrounding land from a hilltop venue. A second hike, through the Marsh Creek Reservoir land adjoining the State Park, is set for this year's Heritage Day on Oct. 21.

Ger Erickson points out features of the Marsh Creek State Park and its surrounding land from a hilltop venue. A second hike, through the Marsh Creek Reservoir land adjoining the State Park, is set for this year’s Heritage Day on Oct. 21.