What’s in a name? The names of Redwood City’s Hawes, Stafford, Stulsaft, and Spinas parks reflect the histories of the people who played prominent roles in creating today’s Redwood City. Read on to learn more about your local parks!
Hawes Park — In 1857, State Assemblyman Horace Hawes acquired a large tract of land called Redwood Farm and moved to Redwood City. In 1863, Hawes donated land for the city’s first large school house. In 1869, he gave the City $2,500 for it, and he turned it into what was probably the city’s first recreational facility — a gymnasium constructed on the school property. Hawes Park was built in 1934, and it served as the center for the City’s recreational activities, which included softball, marble tournaments, pet shows, Easter egg hunts, and the Junior Olympics. In 1955, the City turned over the section of Hawes Park on Roosevelt Avenue to the School District so that Hawes Elementary School could be built.
Stafford Park — Daniel R. Stafford was born August 11, 1870, four years after his father James moved to Redwood City and purchased a sloop which he used to haul lumber, grain, and other goods between San Francisco and Redwood City. In 1872, James opened a grocery store, which Dan took over in 1885 at the age of 15 and managed until 1926. Considered the city’s leading grocer during those years, Dan started a career in real estate and investments. Active in local government, he served as City Clerk for 12 years, Mayor for 10 years, and servedon the City’s Board of Trustees. In 1892, he organized the Chamber of Commerce. In 1946, two years before he died, Stafford gave the City eight lots for the park that now bears his name.
Stulsaft Park — Morris Stulsaft was a real estate developer who earned a fortune from land development all over California. Projects he started in Redwood City include the Woodside Plaza and Roosevelt Shopping Center, and a 2,000-home residential development in the area between Alameda de las Pulgas and Woodside Road. Stulsaft also was influential in bringing Ampex to Redwood City and sold property needed for the Kaiser Permanente Hospital site. In 1951, he gave the City 38 acres for the park that now bears his name. Stulsaft Park’s wooded setting made it a natural choice for a children’s day camp, which was started in 1960. In 1966, at the request of area residents, playground equipment was installed near the Farm Hill entrance to the park.
Spinas Park — Andrew L. Spinas arrived in Redwood City from Eureka in a Ford Model T in the summer of 1926. That fall the 21-year-old graduate of Humboldt State College took a $130-a-month job as a teacher at Washington School, starting what would become a 40-year career in Redwood City education. In 1937, he became Superintendent of the Redwood City Elementary School District, a position he held until his retirement in 1966. When Spinas took over as Superintendent, he managed a two-person office that administered six schools and 1,824 students. By 1966, the District had grown into the second largest in San Mateo County, with 18 schools and 12,000 students. As busy as he was, Spinas served on the Parks and Recreation Commission from 1938 to 1953. With Red Morton, he helped to develop the close working relationship between the City and the School District. Andrews Spinas Park dates from 1961, when the City began negotiations for a park in the Friendly Acres area. In 1966, the newly completed playground was named after Spinas as a tribute to his many years of service to Redwood City education and recreation.
For more information on Redwood City Parks and recreational programs go here.
Adapted from Redwood City: A Hometown History, Chapter 14, “Redwood City Parks: A Big Boost from Alfred ‘Red’ Morton” by Duane Sandul