History of our Alto Clubhouse
The following history was written by Harold “Hi” Roberts who
was a member of The Marin Amateur Radio Club and a former member
of the Alto Volunteer Fireman. Hi passed away on June 11, 1999 after a long illness.
The building which is now the clubhouse of the Marin Amateur Radio Club (MARC) was donated by the remaining 5 members of the Alto Volunteer Firemen, Inc. in 1997.
The building was originally a grocery store at the intersection of E. Blithedale and Highway 101. The highway was a two-lane road then and when widening the highway was planned the building had to be moved. The Volunteer Firemen obtained the building and moved it to its present location on Shell Road.
The Volunteer Firemen had been formed in the early 40′s by residents of the unincorporated area of Alto. The land was donated by the owners and the Volunteers rebuilt the old engines and obtained used equipment. A fire district was formed with tax money to pay for the chief and to hire more firemen.
As time passed the Volunteers added an office and a work shop and more equipment Improvements were financed by bingo games which drew people from far and wide andwhich went on for 24 years.
A new fire station was later built on Baptist Seminary grounds at the request of the Seminary. Gradually the district became an all-paid firemen operation. It was supportedby property taxes and served all of the area of Alto, East Alto and Strawberry to the Tiburon line with mutual aid by nearby districts.
The Alto Volunteer Firemen continued to own and maintain the old building until here were only 5 members left. When Chief Carl Heymen, who had been involved almost from the beginning, died in 1996, it was decided by the remaining members to donate the building.
The bylaws decreed that the building, equipment and money could only be transferred to another non-profit group. A number of groups came forward to present their request. The Alto Volunteer Firemen (of which I was a member since 1960) talked to the neighbors living near the station and then unanimously decided that the Marin Amateur Radio Club would be a fine group to take over the building. We can encourage and train young people to become radio operators and we can be a working center in the event of a major catastrophe.
The radio club has been able, with an $8,000 bequest from the volunteers plus other donations from radio amateur members, to substantially improve and repair the building already. By renting the upstairs apartment we have a steady income to continue our improvements.
I feel that the Alto Volunteer’s decision to donate the building to MARC was the best idea. The widow of the chief Carl Heymen and other long-time neighbors are very happy to have our group there. After their many years of hard work and devotion to the Volunteer Fire Dept. they are gratified to see the old building being used to benefit our citizens.
Hi Roberts, KO6LS