FROM T H E R E P O R T E R
Modern Retirementment Living
Seniors Community Opens Doors
By Sally Miller Wyatt/Special to The Reporter
Leisure Town - an entirely new concept for the times - attracted hundreds of older, retired homeowners during the early 1960s.
Thee new community for those 50 and older, on the outskirts of Vacaville, was touted in a July 1962 Reporter story as the "largest private development of its kind in the country."
Reporter subscribers by that time had been reading about the Leisure Town concept for more than two years. A February 1960 article revealed that plans to build the first 200 of more than 800 homes would begin soon.
Leisure Town would be a "future recreational city," the article noted, probably a "city unto itself," boasting such amenities as its own shopping center, as well as an executive golf course. A shopping area would anchor the town hall, which would be surrounded by pools, an arts and crafts building, a church site, professional offices and a fire station.
Construction began on the model homes by the fall of 1960 and workers were "racing against the rains." Developers also hoped to complete "six homes a day over the next six years."
The golf course officially opened Oct. 28, 1960, but by March 1961, the golf course was expanded to a full 18 holes.
In October 1962, a story in The Reporter updating the progress of the construction noted that if all homes were built as planned, Leisure Town could add 8,000 people to Vacaville's population, raising the area total to as many as 20,000 residents.
Readers also learned that architects intended to include "gas lights at the end of each driveway," to create "a more residential atmosphere than standard street lights." The amenity was expected to add about 60 cents a month to a homeowner's gas bill.
Model homes opened for public viewing in mid-November 1962, and they drew "throngs" of interested buyers. In fact, 15 houses already had been sold by that time. Although no formal ceremonies were held, it was estimated that more than 1,000 people came to see these new homes.
Leisure Town officially opened in late November 1962. An advertisement in The Reporter noted that the homes were to feature full air conditioning and central gas heating, shake roofs with wide overhangs, insulated ceilings, a kitchen pantry, large linen closets, a snack bar in the kitchen and lawns in the front and rear, with prices for both homes and apartments ranging from $10,000 to $17,000
By February 1963, more than 150 families had purchased homes in the new community. Leisure Town houses were selling so well it was later announced that 300 more homes would be built. A groundbreaking was held for the new, 8,000-square-foot shopping center, and plans were unveiled for an apartment complex.
The Nut Tree, in an effort to "spread the welcome mat" for its new neighbors, held a special gathering in April 1963. A Reporter photograph in July 1963 welcomed some of Leisure Town's first residents - Mr. and Mrs. William Walmuth of Oakland and Mr. and Mrs. John Crossfield of San Francisco.
Within months, Leisure Town residents, hardly idling away their retirement years, already were making an impact on the area. An August 1963 Reporter article noted that a group to boost civic action was being formed. The new Booster Club would be headed up by Roy Brown and Eugene Outman.
Within years, the area had become a "GOP stronghold," according to a November 1966 Reporter article. By 1968, there were so many news items of note and activities to be announced in Leisure Town, that a regular feature called "Leisure Town Log," edited by Marion Pratt, was running in The Reporter.
The top image is Helge Harms (left) and Tony Syar, construction partners in Leisure Town, hold a rendering of what the community would become.
The bottom image is an aerial view showing early construction at what would become Leisure Town.
Thanks to The Reporter for sharing this article on the History of Leisure Town