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Preservation Move For Olive Grove Above Rankin Park

State commission may designate as point of historical interest the olive trees planted by Martinez pioneer James Rankin.

An olive grove gracing a hillside west of downtown Martinez is on a historical preservation list.

Patty Lorick, recreation supervisor for the city of Martinez, said, "When you stand on Main Street and look west, it's a blue-green-gray, shimmering. It's so pretty in the hills. That is the olive grove."

On the agenda for Friday's meeting of the state Historical Resources Commission is a consent calendar item to designate the Rankin Olive Grove as a California Point of Historical Interest. The agenda is attached to this story as a PDF.

The trees — the ones remaining from an estimated 400 originally planted by Martinez pioneer James Rankin in the 19th century — sit on a hillside above Rankin Park. Rankin was the sheriff when he moved his family to Martinez in 1885. He later became president of the Bank of Martinez. Rankin Park sits on a portion of the original Rankin property, according to the virtual cemetery tour on the website of the Martinez Historical Society.

Much of the Rankin estate acreage was sold to the city of Martinez in 1937 for $12,000 and converted into Rankin Park. In 1978 more land, including the Olive Grove, was gifted to the city and is used as open space, according to a city report in October by City Engineer Tim Tucker. That report is attached to this article as a PDF.

Bill Wainwright, the great grandson of James Rankin, said he planned to attend the Historical Resources Commssion meeting Friday. He cited the "contribution and professionalism" of Martinez resident Kristen Henderson for initiating the nomination.

The state Historical Resources Commission meets at 9 a.m. Friday at the Secretary of State Auditorium, 1500 11th St., Sacramento.

Violet Grantham February 11, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Bill Wainwright has spoken of the Olive Grove for some years. May he follow through and find grants and other sources of revenue to remove the "volunteer" bay, oak, and eucalyptus trees whose ongoing and upcoming shade will kill the olive trees. Removing the grasses and pruning (must be done over the course of at least 3 years and with expertise) will also improve the trees. But that requires searching for grants before they are due, writing them, and coordinating in a timely fashion with City Staff to submit those grants; finding alternative labor sources and perhaps even donating one's own money and definitely one's own time. The most dangerous thing one could do for the Olive Grove (or any preservation matter) is to state one is going to take care of the issue, get everyone believing that, and then drop the ball having used the issue just to be seen in the press. Just as Rankin himself applied his muscles to the coal shafts and his mind to business acumen, so must claimants to the Olive Grove's preservation work towards its tangible preservation. Bill Wainwright....hope this message finds its way up the hill, through the dawning sage of those 350 trees.
Janet Wainwright February 11, 2013 at 06:12 PM
I appreciate Violet Grantham's interest in our great grandfather's olive trees. As James Rankin's great grand-daughter and Bill's sister, I believe that Bill and the City of Martinez will do everything in their power to preseve and protect the James Rankin olive orchard. I, and I am sure my sisters Nancy and Judy, and our Chapot cousin's would be more than happy to contribute to a fund to take care of the issues about which Violet writes.

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