LAFAYETTE -- Wake up your inner Sherlock -- the Lafayette Historical Society wants you to come to their home (not Holmes) stamping grounds in the city's downtown on June 15-16 to search for clues.

Modeled after San Francisco's Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt, the East Bay copycat will lead participants to 14 historical sites.

"I teach Lafayette history to all the third grades in town, and they are so enthusiastic about learning about the town's founding, it seemed a fun activity for families to do together," said LHS President Mary McCosker.

The LHS committee planning the event targeted young people, and admit adding new, younger members is a constant goal. Raising awareness of Lafayette's history and boosting civic pride, McCosker claimed, will be a natural byproduct of the no-charge, Father's Day weekend activity.

Almost everyone in the area knows about Lafayette's restaurants, parking squabbles and new construction, most recently including a Veterans Hall and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center. And insiders are familiar with the city's community garden, music concerts at the reservoir, tiny brown Town Hall Theatre and "green" activism. But a dwindling number of residents -- except for the third grade brigade fresh from McCosker's talks -- know the city's three names before 1855: Brown's Mill, Brown's Corners and Centerville. Few also have heard of Lafayette's founder, Elam Brown, who bought the one-square-league plot of ranch land for $900.


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And how many people have pulled over on Happy Valley Road to read about Elam and Margaret Allen Brown's house? "A crude affair constructed while Mrs. Brown prepared dinner," the sign reads, leaving all manner of intriguing possibilities for the imagination.

Registered treasure hunt detectives will receive emailed clues by 5 p.m. Friday, June 14. The clues will give directions to markers or plaques where information will answer questions specific to the location. Participants' answers must be emailed to the LHS by 5 p.m. Sunday, June 16 -- and be correct -- to be entered in the prize drawing. Prizes were still being determined at press time, but were expected to include gift certificates at local establishments and retailers.

Register at the historical society's website (www. lafayettehistory.org), by calling the History Room at 925-283-1848, or by sending an email to lafayette.history@comcast.net by Thursday, June 13 at 6 p.m.