HAYWARD -- Some people call Frank Goulart "Mr. Hayward" because of the history buff's extensive knowledge of the town's past.

Yet the attorney and activist lives very much in the present, fighting to preserve Hayward's heritage while supporting local arts and music.

Goulart, 62, was the main driving force to save one of Hayward's oldest buildings, the Odd Fellows lodge on B Street. And he helped make supporting local music and the arts the lodge's mission.

"One of the Odd Fellows' missions is to relieve the distress. I think there's distress without music and the arts," Goulart said.

Goulart came across the building, built in 1868, on a walk led by historian Banning Fenton in the 1990s. "I was blown away. You could tell it was really old; it had the flavor of the history of the town," he said.

After Fenton died, Goulart took over the Hayward Area Historical Society walks. He decided to include the building, only to learn the lodge had disbanded and the structure was about to be sold.

A plan to save it was hatched at a Thanksgiving dinner in 2009, Goulart said. He and his wife, Julie Machado, went to work, contacting the Odd Fellows about reinstating the charter and finding people interested in preserving the building -- and supporting the arts. "Frank and I are both good at networking and pulling people in," Machado said.

"On April 17, 2010, we got 40 people who were interested in the lodge" to become members, Goulart said.

The lodge wants to expand support of local arts and host activities. A big hurdle, however, is access; the only way to enter is up steep stairs. The building needs an elevator. "It would mean that we could open the lodge to the community," Goulart said.

Three stores are at the front of the building, at 950 B St., with the lodge entrance in back. Two doors leading to the main room have covered peepholes. "You had to be admitted in," Goulart said.

In the paneled room hangs the chapter's original charter. "The first name is William Meek, the same man who built the Meek Estate," he said.

On the sides of the room are thronelike chairs; on each is an illuminated Odd Fellows insignia and a painted eye. "That's the all-seeing eye. To be a member of the Odd Fellows, you have to believe in a creator of the universe," Goulart said. The Odd Fellows, which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, came together from an odd assortment of trades, thus the name.

Lodge members have been cleaning up the building, but "sometimes it's hard to tell what's trash and what's historic," Goulart said. Closets are crammed with items collected over the lodge's long tenure.

He opened a closet door. "This is full of ledgers. They didn't throw anything away. It's like a museum in here." Another closet is filled with robes and ceremony props. "A little bit of ritual is OK," Goulart said.

Goulart and Machado's interest in historic buildings extends to their Main Street office. They restored the 1893 house, built by Leander Linekin, one of Hayward's first mayors. Machado has her counseling practice in part of the Queen Anne house, and Goulart, who specializes in living trusts, has an office in another section.

Hayward's Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association, which Goulart and Machado helped organize, meets there.

Goulart has spearheaded the Odd Fellows' free summer concerts at Memorial Park on Mission Boulevard. Each concert showcases a local nonprofit group, which receives any donations from the performance. The next concert, on Aug. 5, features the Stay Away Joes and benefits the Hayward High School band boosters.

Goulart's interest in music is no coincidence; he plays guitar in the duo Two of Us with bass player Steve Schaefer. The pair specialize in Beatles music.

"I get to merge things I'm passionate about -- history and the arts," Goulart said about his work with the lodge.

Goulart has served on many advisory boards, and he unsuccessfully ran for Hayward City Council in 2000. "I ran against four incumbents, which I guess wasn't the smartest thing," he said.

"Frank is the quintessential concerned citizen," said retired Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Joel Thornley, who was Goulart's principal at what was then Tyrrell Junior High in the 1960s.

Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney has known Goulart for decades. "Frank obviously cares about Hayward and Hayward's history," he said.

Goulart says his parents inspired him to be active in local affairs. "My folks felt it was important to give back to the community."

His family moved to the area when he was a child. A few years later, a newspaper column about Hayward sparked his fascination with local history.

"I started delivering The Daily Review in 1959. I'd get my papers Sunday morning and read John Sandoval's column while I was rolling the papers. I loved his stories," he said.

"His tales of Native Americans were real interesting to me," Goulart said. "He told stories about how they lived, and where. I could go to those spots and imagine Native American villages, which was great as a kid."

While Goulart loves Hayward's rich history, he bemoans the lack of planning that has occurred.

"We pretty much gave the town away after World War II to developers; we let them do whatever they wanted," he said. "We didn't do things in the '50s to make it a vibrant community, and now we're having to make up for it."

FRANK GOULART
Age: 62
Hometown: Hayward
Claim to fame: Attorney and activist working to preserve Hayward's heritage while supporting local arts and music.
Quote: "I get to merge things I'm passionate about -- history and the arts."
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Summer History Walk
Frank Goulart leads a tour exploring the site of the former Haywards Hotel and its surroundings. Bring water and sunscreen and wear walking shoes.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Meet at 22380 Foothill Blvd., Hayward
Cost: $5 adults, $3 seniors, free for Hayward Area Historical Society members