San Mateo Real Estate 

In 1776, Spanish explorers came to today's San Mateo. During a scouting trip to locate a place to start a colony on the Peninsula, Lieutenant Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza, Padre Pedro Font, Lieutenant Jose Joaquin Moraga, and eleven soldiers set up camp in San Mateo. Father Font named the creek that they slept by "San Mateo Creek." In 1793, the mission fathers in San Francisco created an outpost of the mission on the Peninsula. The outpost was at San Mateo Creek and was established to bring the Church to the Peninsula, to organize and oversee the newly converted Christians in livestock herding, and to provide food for the Mission. The outpost was the first building built in San Mateo by non-natives. In 1822, California received word of Mexico's independence from Spanish rule. This would bring changes to San Mateo with the missions becoming secularized and the opening of free trade. The Mexican Land Grants (1835) would leave a few residents owning vast expansions of land in the area. In fact, these ranches were so large that what is now the City of San Mateo is comprised of portions of two of them-Rancho San Mateo and Rancho de las Pulgas. This Rancho period lasted about thirty years. Rancho San Mateo, which comprised what is today south Burlingame, all of Hillsborough, and north San Mateo was sold to the American mercantile firm of Mellus and Howard for four dollars an acre. In 1850, Howard built the first of the great homes of the area, El Cerrito, on the property. Nicolas de Peyster came to San Mateo in 1849. De Peyster created what would be the first business enterprise in San Mateo when he opened a stagecoach stop in the now abandoned mission outpost. By opening this business, de Peyster established what would be the main road through San Mateo. In May 1861, under the direction of Charles B. Polhemus, the construction of a railroad to link San Francisco with San Jose began. The track was completed in January 1864 and the first service through San Mateo was on October 17, 1863. The train made the trip from San Francisco to San Mateo in thirty-seven minutes. With Polhemus in the role of director of railroad construction, the decision about where the central business district would be located lay in his hands. The first building to be erected near the tracks was the train station, but it wasn't long before buildings began springing up in the area of Main Street and Railroad Avenue. This was the beginning of downtown San Mateo. The opening of railroad service in San Mateo attracted many wealthy San Franciscans to the area. San Mateo became an ideal place for building summer and weekend homes for people who worked in San Francisco. These estates were built for some of the most powerful people in the West. The resulting population that developed in San Mateo was largely made up of people employed in the service of these great mansions. During this period, the wealthy estate owners bought up large parcels of land, keeping the majority of San Mateo property owned by a few families. During this period, there were some families that established their own wealth through enterprises in the area. One of the most successful of these businesses was the building company owned by the Wisnom family. Robert Wisnom became the best known builder during this era and he is credited for erecting many buildings in San Mateo.

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