FREMONT -- To city leaders, a small 109-year-old building on Mission Boulevard should be sold to help pay for large developments in Warm Springs and Fremont's proposed downtown.

But to Al and Barbara Auer, the shuttered structure is an important symbol of both Mission San Jose's rural past and what they call the city government's apathy toward Fremont history.

The Fremont couple also say a copy of the building's deed indicates that the city would violate the contract's spirit if they sell the property without directing funds back to the neighborhood.

"We want the city to honor this agreement and the spirit for which it was intended," said Barbara Auer, who runs a business next to the two-story, wood-frame building.

A former tiny tots school at 43327 Mission Blvd is photographed on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Fremont, Calif.  Built in 1905, it has been vacant for over 10
A former tiny tots school at 43327 Mission Blvd is photographed on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Fremont, Calif. Built in 1905, it has been vacant for over 10 years and the city of Fremont is considering removing it from their llist of historic buildings. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

Olive Hyde, a Fremont philanthropist and neighborhood activist, donated the quarter-acre lot to the city in 1964, on the condition that it be "dedicated for public use" and not used "for any purpose not compatible" with the Mission San Jose district, her typed "grant deed" states.

The Auers say that, though the agreement is vague, it is clear that spending the money on developments outside the neighborhood violates the spirit of Hyde's agreement with the city.

Hyde, who died in 1982, gave a copy of the land deed to her friend Robert McIvor -- Barbara Auer's father and a longtime Mission San Jose merchant. "Olive gave me a copy because she wanted people to know that property or the money from it should be used for the good of the community," said McIvor, 83.

If the property is sold, the money should go toward community uses that Hyde championed, said Barbara Auer. "She promoted arts, education and historical preservation, and that's how she would have wanted it used," she said. "She certainly would not have wanted the money spent on salaries, parking or a consultant to study something."

However, the City Council last fall decided to sell the property and use the proceeds for two housing and retail projects near City Hall and the planned Warm Springs/South Fremont BART station, said Fremont planner Ingrid Rademaker.

The building at 43327 Mission Blvd. has been listed on the Fremont Register of Historic Resources since 1970. It was a horse stable in 1905 and later housed several types of businesses, including a city-run preschool that closed in 2002.

Fremont leaders have asked the Historical Architectural Review Board to remove the structure from the registry, which would make it easier to sell.

Review board members have held off on deciding the issue until City Hall gives them more information on the site's history. City planners say they will do that for the board's June 5 meeting.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.