Sac Historic House Profile: Dan Flynn


AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

This week I was lucky enough to catch up with the very busy Dan Flynn, author of my favorite Sacramento guidebook Inside Guide To Sacramento (Embarcadero Press). This is not a flimsy one page, Capitol-Crocker-Old Sac, day trip from San Francisco type of guidebook… there is real care, local knowledge and history galore packed into this book, featuring must-see spots from A (Alkali Flat) to Z (Zelda’s).

Q: Hi Dan, thanks so much for letting me interview you for the Sacramento Historic House blog. First off, how are you?

A: Very well, thanks Tracy.

Q: You are the Executive Director at the UC Davis Olive Center, which by itself is exciting, but you also wrote the wonderful Inside Guide To Sacramento which is one of the best practical guidebooks on Sacramento I’ve ever seen… is the book still in print? What’s the best way for readers to get a copy?

A: The book is no longer in print, but it may still be available at the Avid Reader on Broadway. There are also copies that one can find by searching the web. I published the book in 1994, put out revised editions in 2000 and 2002, then decided to hang it up to reduce demands on my time.

Q: How did the book come about?

A: I moved to Sacramento in 1986 to work in the Legislature. I loved the city’s personality – its history, architecture, hangouts. But when I looked at the guidebooks available at the time I felt that they did not come close to capturing the city’s character. There was one only guidebook devoted to Sacramento, but it was a thin, self-published effort that suggested “hick town.” Then there were California guidebooks written by people who came to town for a day or two who visited the obvious attractions and tourist restaurants and wrote a couple of ho-hum pages about Sacramento. None of the books focused on the things that people who live here appreciate: neighborhoods, architecture, history, cafes, restaurants, bars, and amenities, not to mention the political drama. I decided that there needed to be a guidebook that celebrated these things.

Q: There are a quite a few walking tours in the book that point out historic houses in areas like Alkali Flat, Poverty Ridge and Curtis Park… do you have a favorite neighborhood for strolling?

A: They all have a distinctive character. I like Alkali Flat for the very old homes. Poverty Ridge is the Nob HIll of Sacramento, still the best place to be if it ever floods, and my favorite home in town is next door to the McClatchy Library. Curtis Park is full of bungalows and narrow streets, surrounding a park that was a horse track in the 1860s. Boulevard Park has a cohesion due to the boulevards on 21st and 22nd Streets and the Colonial Revival and Craftsman architecture. Southside Park, Land Park, East Sac, Oak Park – I like them all.

Q: In the book you mention the Hart/Martinez House on H and 22nd Streets which I get asked about all of the time. Do you think it’s haunted or just unfortunate in owners?

A: I once lived about two blocks from that house and when I’d walk by it would give me a shiver. A nice paint job would reduce the creepiness.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the work of the UC Davis Olive Center.

A: We are seeking to do for olives and olive oil what UC Davis did for wine. The olive center provides research and education for olive growers and processors. We educate consumers and the media. We work with the great olive-producing nations of the world – Spain, Italy, Greece and others – to advance our knowledge in California. People are going to be hearing a lot more about California olives and olive in the future. [ed. How jealous are we of Dan’s job?!]

Q: What are some of your favorite things about Sacramento?

A: Summer evenings, farmers’ markets, unpretentiousness, Governor Jerry Brown’s portrait, Merlino’s orange freeze, Midtown restaurants, running into friends, Fox and Goose, fall color, Taylor’s Market, Corti Brothers, Land Park’s golf course, new lofts, old neighborhoods, and Gunther’s neon sign.

Great answers – thank you for the chat, Dan.

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