The history of Shadelands dates back to 1852 when Hiram Penniman (1824-1907), one of the earliest pioneers of the Ygnacio Valley, purchased 500 acres of land in the area now known as Shadelands. Penniman planted hundreds of fruit and nut trees, and his “Shadelands Fruit Farm” became the first large-scale commercial orchard operation in the valley. His house, designed by the firm of Eckers & Sells and built in 1903, is one of the finest remaining examples of redwood-framed Colonial Revival architecture in Contra Costa County and the only major Colonial Revival house in the Walnut Creek area. Over the years, the house changed hands and the land was divided and sold. Today, the house at 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road is known as the Shadelands Ranch Museum and is home to the Walnut Creek Historical Society. The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public, showcases numerous historical artifacts, many of which belonged to the Pennimans, and houses a rich archive of Contra Costa and Walnut Creek history in the Historical Society’s collections of old newspapers, photographs, and government records. For more information, visit www.walnutcreekhistory.info.
Built in 1975, Shadelands was Walnut Creek’s first business park and was originally designed as a traditional office and R&D center. Shadelands attracted a variety of businesses and nonprofits, from sole proprietors and small businesses in professional services to large anchor corporations, such as Del Monte Foods. Through the years, scores of local elementary school students have toured Del Monte’s facility and returned home with canned corn coin banks as souvenirs. Today, Del Monte shares Shadelands with a variety of enterprises, including Tony La Russa’s innovative Animal Rescue Foundation, ARF; the high-tech Joint Genome Institute; the solar industry’s Quick Mount PV; the entrepreneurial CaliCraft Brewing Company; and a number of distinctive, state-of-the-art medical facilities, including UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital (previously known as Oakland Children’s Hospital), John Muir Orthopaedic Specialists, and Kaiser Permanente medical offices.
In 2001, Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education, now known as Center for Community Arts, expanded beyond its downtown Walnut Creek campus and opened its new Shadelands Campus on Ygnacio Valley Road at Wiget Lane in Shadelands at the site of the former Contra Costa Realtors offices. Center for Community Arts thrives as the regional center of arts learning, offering high-quality visual and performing arts instruction and educational experiences to participants of all ages.
In August 2014, the Walnut Creek City Council approved the creation of the Shadelands Property Business Improvement District, PBID, a unified group of Shadelands property owners who will direct the future of Shadelands to enhance opportunities for economic growth and park rejuvenation. The property district had been in the planning stage for three years, prompted by the leadership efforts of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the City of Walnut Creek, to set priorities for reviving the 40-year-old park. The ten-member Shadelands Steering Committee is committed to a collective and cooperative process of working together with the City of Walnut Creek, to improve the business climate, amenities, aesthetics, and value of Shadelands, and to create a thriving business community that welcomes both the existing businesses and the surrounding community.