In 1912, decades before anyone loved Elvis tender, George Abram Putnam carved 110 acres of his land into 21 lots and named his seedling subdivision Graceland Acres after his wife, Grace Brackett Putnam. He was one of many in the East Bay who took advantage of the influx of San Franciscans following the 1906 earthquake and fire. These lots were peddled as suburban farms or "ranchettes". Real estate companies offered free promotional train rides to Contra Costa—a 1912 brochure for a similar development in Concord promised "profit and independence in a five acre farm for the city man."
But Pleasant Hill's Graceland Acres went the way of the King himself—developers divvied up the land further to build more homes.
Although Graceland Acres is gone, its shape determined the layout of this area today. Have a look at this blueprint—the vertical roads are Pleasant Hill Road, Brandon Road, and Kahrs Avenue; Gregory Lane and Boyd Road are the horizontal roads. If you love maps as much as I do, pull up a Google map of this area and compare it—you can very clearly see the outline of these old ranchettes. If you live on Rolling Green Circle or Way, just east of Christ the King, your subdivision used to be ranchette #12. Christ the King very clearly sits right on ranchette #10. The whole of Monti Circle was carved out of ranchette #11, and Helen Road was formerly ranchette #20. Our beloved Thai restaurant is in the shopping center on ranchette #1.
This history is hidden in plain sight—if you live in this area or frequent a business or a church on this site, see if you can place it on this blueprint. And think about the land beneath your “blue suede shoes”—the suburban farms of old Graceland Acres.