Cemetery could be windmill’s new home 

A towering piece of the city’s history is on its way to being resurrected in an unlikely spot: at a cemetery where many city founders are buried.

Through the efforts of several local history buffs, a landmark windmill now stashed in a Redwood City Public Works yard will be restored and installed at the Union Cemetery, if city officials approve the plan.

The Solari Windmill once presided over a massive farm operated by the Solari family and located where Costco now stands on Middlefield Road near Woodside Road, according to Jeri Joseph-Hover, a Parks, Recreation and Community Services commissioner who has championed saving the windmill for years.

As neighborhoods and industry moved in, the windmill remained near the back of Garfield School until, eight years ago, school officials decided they wanted to add a sports field — and tear the windmill down.

That’s when longtime resident and centenarian Jean Cloud approached the commission and asked them to do something, and Joseph-Hover got hooked.

"This has been a mission for me for eight years — [this windmill] is a relic and a landmark of Redwood City," Joseph-Hover said.

Since then, the project has received a $30,000 pledge from the city. Supporters are hoping to raise another $20,000 to restore the 32-foot-tall, wood-shingled windmill that also houses a water tank and a small office. But the last step was to find a home for the structure, now destined for the northernmost corner of Redwood City’s historic cemetery, which is already zoned for such landmarks, according to planner Charles Jany.

Restoring the windmill will be avisual reminder of a large part of San Mateo County’s oft-forgotten history.

"It’s hard to think, now, that most of the Peninsula on the Bay side was once farmland" where farmers grew everything from potatoes and artichokes to bushels of flowers, said Mitch Postel, head of the San Mateo County History Museum. "This windmill harkens back to our agricultural past."

If the plans are approved, the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Historic Union Cemetery Association will get to work restoring the shingled part of the windmill tower. Joseph-Hover hopes to have the windmill up by May 28, in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The Redwood City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the Solari Windmill project today at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road.


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Beth Winegarner

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