Photos: Building a Tule Home Replica
Building towards the Future
By: Martha Cerda, Naturalist
Dear Alviso Adobe friends,
Happy early spring! We’ve already started to see bursts of spring here and there at the park. Miner’s lettuce, wild mustard, and the leaves on our elderberry trees have started to grow back. Before we know it the valley oak and sycamore tree leaves will follow.
In the past few months, we have been working on a special project I am delighted to share with you all. As many of you know, the park interprets the cultures, peoples, and landscapes of the tri-valley area from its early beginnings. Currently, you can connect with history by strolling through our visitor center, the Milking Barn. The Milking Barn was built to represent the popular site of the Meadowlark Dairy in the 1900s. Although the park no longer houses cattle, you can “milk” Fiona, our fiberglass cow. Towards the center of the courtyard, you can look inside the Adobe house. Built in 1854, this mudbrick structure displays the history of the area from the mid-1800s onward and is still standing strong.
Our newest addition, a tule home replica
, will give you a glimpse into the living structures formerly built by the area’s native Ohlone people. Our hope is for this exhibition to be a communal opportunity to learn and appreciate the technology, knowledge, and culture of the first peoples of the East Bay. We are fortunate to have Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) bearer, Antonio M. assisting and guiding park staff throughout this project. The home is located toward the south entrance of the park, in close proximity to the bridge overlooking the seasonal creek. It stands 6.5 feet tall by 6 feet wide, smaller than what a typical Ohlone home would have been. Once completed, the public will get the opportunity to touch and explore the inside.
We first began to prepare for construction last May, as staff harvested tule and began the drying process. Later that summer, a second batch of tule stems was gathered. Construction of the framework began in November with the digging of holes to plant the willow branches to support the structure. The branches were bent and shaped to create the home’s dome frame. Hemp was used to secure the willow tree branches and this same material will be used to cover the framework with layers of tule. Traditionally, people in Central California used the outer and inner bark to tie the willow frameworks together. The homes were then thatched, or covered with tule stems. We began our thatching process in January and we anticipate to complete in April.
Moving forward we’d like the community to assist with re-thatching and maintenance of the tule home. With the support of volunteer organizations and community members we look forward to the completion and continuation of this project. If you are interested in lending a hand, there is still lots to do! Please email park staff at email@example.com
for more information.