The man was Dr. John Marsh, and last weekend, just yards from the Rancho Meganos homestead he shared with Native Americans, the newest roadway bringing travelers to the area was given his name.
Historians, park rangers, re-enactors, politicians and history buffs came together on the shoulder of the Highway 4 Bypass Saturday to cut the ribbon on a sign bearing the road’s new name: the John Marsh Heritage Highway. The event helped commemorate Marsh’s 210th birthday.
“This dedication is a great thing,” said Gene Metz, president of the John Marsh Historic Trust that is coordinating the rehabilitation of Marsh’s stone house. “It took us a long time.” The mansion will be the centerpiece of the newsiest and largest state historical park, a yet-to-be-named 3,900-acre parcel surrounding the mansion and encompassing the site of ancient Native American burial grounds and habitat.
The official ribbon-snip was performed by Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor who, along with District V County Supervisor Mary Piepho and the State Route 4 Bypass Authority, spearheaded the more than two year effort to honor Marsh. Afterward, the group re-assembled at Sweeny’s in downtown Brentwood for an update on the effort to restore the mansion. A special menu was created for the event, including Stone House Steak Sandwich, Bay Miwok Minestrone and Meatballs Los Meganos.
At the restaurant, The Trust and the Friends of John Marsh honored Bob Gromm, one of the trust’s founders and a longtime far East County historian and community advocate. It was during a fundraiser for the house’s stabilization that Gromm became the last person to sleep in the mansion, curled up with one of Marsh’s original 1850 shotguns to protect displays left out between the two days of the event.
“Brentwood,” Gromm said in accepting a commemorative plaque, “you have a jewel in your back yard.”
To learn more about the effort to first stabilize and then restore the Marsh house, log on to www.johnmarshhouse.com.