Driving Tour: National Register Sites in
This tour visits all
National Register of
Historic Places sites in Fresno. Total driving distance is about 33 miles.
The tour begins at the Fresno Brewing Company at 100 M Street
(corner of M and Heaton). Since this building is located on the southern edge
of downtown Fresno, most people will find it easiest to get there from Highway
41 South. From the freeway, take the O Street exit. Cross O Street and proceed
southwest on Santa Clara Street. Turn left on M Street and go to the end of
that street. The Fresno Brewing Company Building (1899) is on the left.
The Fresno Brewing Company offices and warehouse
remains one of the oldest examples of industrial architecture in Fresno. The
design appears to be the work of Eugene Mathewson based on the architectural
style, materials, and elevator contract records. It is one of the few remaining
turn-of-the-century buildings in Fresno built entirely of brick, which was once
a common construction material. Founded in 1900 by Ernst Eilert, the brewery
remained in operation until 1919, when Prohibition went into effect. Under the
new name Eilert Products, the plant bottled soft drinks and other beverages.
Production of beer resumed in 1933 and continued until the brewery was sold to
Grace Bros. of Santa Rosa in 1942. The brewery was demolished in 1955 after a
series of ownership changes. All that remains of the original brewery complex
is the brick office and warehouse building, an attached storage shed, and an
adjacent wood shed.
Return in the opposite direction on M Street. Turn left on Los
Angeles Street and right on Van Ness, crossing under Highway 41. Turn right on
Ventura Avenue. The Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church (1914) is on
the right at 2226 Ventura Avenue.
Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church was the
first church built in the tradition of Armenian church architecture in the
United States. It additionally is the first designed by an Armenian architect,
Lawrence Karekin Cone (Condrajian). Cone was Fresno's first Armenian architect.
Although there are older churches in the United States used for Armenian
services, these facilities either were existing church structures not built for
Armenians, or built by Armenians with no reference to Armenian church
architecture. In designing this church, Cone followed very closely the style of
old Armenian churches in Armenia and Turkey from the fourth to seventeenth
centuries. Armenian church architecture has long been recognized as the first
church architecture to reflect a unique style, which was perfected in its
various forms after the seventh century A.D. It is believed that this style and
the method of construction influenced the later European Romanesque and Gothic
architecture. The church's unique dome characterizes this building as Armenian
more than any other single design feature. The Holy Trinity Church was located
at the center of "Armenian Town," a ten to twelve-block area in downtown
Fresno. This area remained predominantly Armenian until the mid-1950s, when
many Armenians there became financially and socially successful and moved out.
Proceed northeast on Ventura. Turn left on P Street. The
Warehouse Row Buildings are on the right at 702, 754, and 764 P
The Fresno Consumers Ice Company (702 P Street)
was begun in 1903 under the name San Joaquin Ice Company. It was advertised at
that time as the largest such facility on the Pacific Coast. The company
changed its name to Fresno Consumers Ice Company in 1904. It concentrated
solely on the manufacturing of ice, the first plant in Fresno to do so. It also
was the first ice company in Fresno to make home deliveries. Horse-drawn wagons
were used until 1924, when the company made the transition to trucks. At its
peak, the Fresno Consumers Ice Company had a production capacity of thirty tons
a day. In 1946, the company made the transition from ice production to cold
storage, but by then it already had made its mark in the commercial development
of Fresno. In August 2008 the brick portions of the Consumers Ice Company were
declared a public safety hazard and demolished. The only section of this
building that remains is the 1928 three-story concrete structure.
The Western Meat Company packing plant (754 P
Street) was built in 1910. In 1932 the company was sold to Swift and Co., and
concentrated primarily on poultry production. In 1945, the plant was converted
completely to turkey production. A hatchery was constructed at 745 P Street,
directly across the street from the Swift plant. During the next decade the
Swift Company became an integral part of the turkey industry in the San Joaquin
Valley. The company would buy eggs, hatch them, and then sell them to valley
farmers to raise to maturity. Swift then bought the turkeys back and processed
them at their plant. Until 1960, when the Swift Company relocated, the
processing plant was a focal point for the turkey industry in Fresno and the
San Joaquin Valley.
The Wormser Furniture Company (764 P Street) was
begun by Sigmund Wormser, a noted Fresno business leader who arrived in Fresno
in 1889. Established in 1903, the company was an immediate success. It
eventually became one of the largest businesses of its kind in California.
Turn left on Inyo Street, right on L Street and left on Kern
Street. The Fresno Republican Printery (1919) is immediately on the left
at 2130 Kern Street.
The Fresno Republican Printery building, designed
by Edward Glass and Charles Butner, housed the job printing division of the
Fresno Morning Republican newspaper. Published from 1876 until 1932, the
Republican was a major force in the social, cultural, and publishing history of
early California. Changing technology eventually rendered the printery
obsolete, and it was closed in the 1970s. In 1982 most of the building was
converted into a private dining facility known as the Downtown
Continue southwest on Kern Street. As you reach Van Ness
Avenue, the Hotel California (1923) is on the left side of Kern Street
across Van Ness at 851 Van Ness Avenue.
The Hotel California was constructed in downtown
Fresno as a luxury hotel for city visitors and as a meeting place for city
residents. Designed by H. Rafael Lake and constructed by R. F. Felchlin &
Company, the Italian Renaissance Revival building immediately became a symbolic
landmark for the growing prosperity of the City of Fresno. In the ensuing
years, the Hotel California gained a reputation as the best hotel between San
Francisco and Los Angeles, and hosted many famous individuals and important
events. It remains emblematic of Fresnos prosperity in the 1920s and is
an outstanding example of the type of development that occurred in
Californias Central Valley cities wishing to promote a strong sense of
their success and urbanization during this period.
Turn right on Van Ness Avenue and left on Tulare Street.
The Bank of Italy Building (1917) is on the right at the corner of
Tulare Street and Fulton Mall (1101 Fulton Mall). There isn't any easy street
parking near this building, though there are a variety of lots and parking
structures in the area.
At the time of its completion, the Bank of Italy
building was the epitome of optimism and confidence in the future of a growing
Fresno. It was designed by architect Charles Franklin in the Renaissance
Revival style. Eventually the Bank of Italy changed its name to Bank of
America. Though currently vacant, this beautiful structure is one of the most
structurally significant commercial buildings in the area.
Continue southwest on Tulare Street to the Southern Pacific
Railroad Depot (1889) on the right at 1713 Tulare Street.
The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, more than any
other building in the city, represents the growth of Fresno from a barren plain
into the agri-business capital of the world. The Central Pacific Railroad,
which became the Southern Pacific in 1884, began a line through the Central
Valley from San Francisco to Los Angeles shortly after completing its part of
the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The Fresno Station was established on
that line in 1872, and a wood frame depot constructed. In 1889 the Southern
Pacific designated Fresno as its main Central Valley freight terminal; it
removed the 1872 depot and replaced it with a spacious new Queen Anne-style
passenger and freight depot. The Daily Evening Expositor on July 6, 1889,
reported that "from San Francisco to Los Angeles there is no depot that can be
compared with the one to be constructed in Fresno. It will be a model building
of the latest style of architecture." Truck transportation and decreasing
passenger traffic forced the depot's closure in 1971. One of two Queen
Anne-influenced stations in California and a symbol of Fresno's founding, it
remains one of the city's most significant historical and architectural
Because of high-speed rail construction, it currently is
impossible to follow the most direct route to the next stop. Reverse direction
on Tulare Street, turn right on H Street, turn right on Ventura Street, and
turn right on F Street. The Azteca Theater is on the right at 836-840 F
The Azteca Theater opened in 1948. It provided a
steady diet of films made during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, and was also
a venue for personal appearances by many of the leading actors of Mexican film.
From 1948 to 1980 the theater was the only venue to show Spanish-language films
catering to the largely immigrant Mexican American community in this region.
When in March 1966 César Chavez led striking farmworkers on their march
from Delano to Sacramento, they held a rally in the Azteca.
Continue on Tulare Street and turn right on Fresno Street.
Take the H Street ramp to the right, then turn left on Tulare Street. The
Fresno County Hall of Records is on the left at 2281 Tulare Street
The Fresno County Hall of Records is a masterly
example of PWA Deco Moderne architecture with stylized Neoclassical design
elements, and exemplifies superior quality in aesthetics and workmanship
throughout its exterior and public spaces. It is embellished with bas-reliefs
manufactured by the internationally-renowned terra cotta firm of Gladding,
McBean & Company. Though credited to Allied Architects, a Depression-era
consortium of Fresno architects, the building was actually designed by
draftsman Henry P. Villalon. Ernest J. Kump, Sr., one of the Allied Architect
partners, had recruited Villalon to join him in Fresno. The
traditionally-trained Kump harbored disdain for the modernistic styles being
promoted by the Public Works Administration during this period, and
relinquished the task of designing the Fresno County Hall of Records to
Continue on Tulare Street. The Maubridge Apartment
Building (1912) on the right at 2344 Tulare Street.
The Maubridge Apartments' name came from combining
the names Maupin and Trowbridge. It was built in 1911-1912 by Dr. J. L. Maupin
and Dr. D. H. Trowbridge, Sr., prominent local medical doctors at the time. It
is the earliest substantial apartment building in Fresno still standing. It was
advertised in 1912 as a prestigious and exclusive address. The structure was
designed by Benjamin G. McDougall, who designed many residences in
Continue northeast on Tulare Street. Turn right on Santa Fe
Street. The Santa Fe Railroad Depot (1899) is to the left on the corner
of Tulare and Santa Fe streets at 2650 Tulare. The Santa Fe Hotel
(1913)is across the street at 935 Santa Fe Street.
The Santa Fe Railroad Depot was completed in 1899
as a station for the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley Railroad (later the
Santa Fe Raiload). The San Francisco and San Joaquin reached Fresno in 1896,
breaking the monopoly of the Southern Pacific on Fresno's railroad traffic.
Alterations and additions were made to the south end of the Mission Revival
building in 1909, and an office unit was added in 1912. Additional alterations
and additions were made in 1917. The waiting room, ticket office and baggage
room were completely remodeled in 1940. In 1966 the station was abandoned for
passenger use and the waiting room was converted into a communications center
for the railroad. The entire second floor was converted into electronic and
computer control areas along with related offices. The railroad later
completely abandoned the building and it stood vacant for many years. In 2005
the building was renovated for use as the Fresno Amtrak
The Santa Fe Hotel, built by Telesfuro Jance, is
one of the oldest and most important Basque institutions in Fresno.
Historically, Basque hotels constituted a network of ethnic establishments
through which Basque immigrants could enter and move about the United States
with a maximum of protection and a minimum of culture shock. As was the custom,
the Santa Fe Hotel was built near the railroad station. For its old-world
clientele, the Santa Fe Hotel was both a way station for the newly-arrived
immigrant and a haven for the unemployed. The hotel also was the base of
operations for the Basque sheep herders in town on business.
Return northwest on Santa Fe Street to Tulare Street. Turn
right on Tulare Street. The Meux Home (1889) is on the left at 1007 R
The Meux Home was built in 1889 by Dr. Thomas
Richard Meux (1838-1929). During the Civil War he enlisted in 1861 as a private
in the Ninth Tennessee Volunteer Regiment of the Confederate Army. After four
years he left the service as an assistant surgeon with the rank of Captain. The
Meux family moved to Fresno in 1887, and Dr. Meux chose the corner of Tulare
and R streets as the family's homesite in March of 1888. Meux established his
medical practice in 1889 and served as a physician from his office and home the
rest of his life. The home was continuously occupied by the Meux family for
eighty years. It was later acquired by the city of Fresno and is presently open
to the public as the Meux Home Museum.
Continue northeast on R Street, turn right on Mariposa Street,
and then turn left on S Street. The H. H. Brix Home (1911) is on the
left at the corner of S and Fresno streets (2844 Fresno Street).
The Brix Mansion was constructed for Herman H. and
Helena S. Brix in 1910-1911. Herman Brix made a pioneering contribution to the
development of Coalinga and was influential in the commercial expansion of
Fresno. Born in Germany in 1862, Brix immigrated to the United States in the
early 1880s, eventually arriving in California. He and his wife were among the
pioneering settlers of the Coalinga area, on the western edge of the San
Joaquin Valley. After an unsuccessful attempt at grain farming, Brix left to
seek his fortune in the Alaskan gold rush. Meanwhile, Coalinga underwent an oil
boom. Returning with a modest stake from his Yukon endeavors, Brix formed a
water company on his homestead and made a fortune investing in oil properties.
By 1915, Brix and his associates owned 1400 acres of west-side oil lands. He
was associated with the Confidence Oil Company, was President of the B & B
Oil Company, President of the San Francisco Oil Company, a director of the St.
Paul & Fresno Oil Company, and a one-sixth investor in the Coalinga
Syndicate. Having relocated to Fresno by 1903, Brix invested heavily in
properties in that city after 1909. Not only did he commission his magnificent
Italian Renaissance mansion on Fresno Street, but he was an important
stockholder in the Hotel Fresno development. He also was responsible for the
construction of the attractive four-story Brix Apartments in 1912. Though Brix
died in 1915, his dream of a multi-story office building was accomplished by
the Brix Estate in 1922 with the construction of the imposing Brix Building on
Fulton Street. In addition to its historical associations, the Brix Mansion
possesses considerable architectural significance. Designed by architect Edward
T. Foulkes, it represents a brilliant example of a period-inspired Italian
Villa, the only residence in Fresno built in this lavishly-embellished style.
Turn left on Fresno Street and cross the railroad tracks. The
Physicians Building (1926) is on the right at 2607 Fresno Street.
The Physicians Building, designed in the Spanish
Revival style by architect Charles Butner and built in 1926 for six Fresno
physicians and surgeons, was the first such building in the Central San Joaquin
Valley conceived for the exclusive purpose of housing medical examination
offices and laboratory facilities. The practitioners in the Physicians Building
were involved in a variety of professional specialities, including general
surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, and internal medicine.
The next three stops are within about one block of the
Physician's Building, so you might want to leave your vehicle and walk to them.
Immediately across P Street is the Twining Laboratories Building (1930),
on the right at 2527 Fresno Street. Immediately across O Street is the Old
Fresno Water Tower (1894), on the left at 2444 Fresno Street. The Fresno
Memorial Auditorium (1935) is across the street at 2424 Fresno Street.
The Twining Laboratories Building is significant
as a Depression-era work of regionally important architect Charles E. Butner.
It is a solid example of a small commercial office designed in a variation of
the Mediterranean Revival style not otherwise seen in downtown Fresno. The
building also is associated with the scientific contributions of Frederick E.
Twining (1874-1945), a prominent pioneer chemist in Fresno and the greater San
Joaquin Valley. The firm's slogan was "We Test Anything," and Dr. Twining was
widely consulted on such diverse subjects as food and drug testing, sobriety
testing, and the analysis of California brandy quality compared to imported
products. At the time of Frederick Twining's death in 1945, the lab he founded
was described as "the most diversified laboratory for scientific research and
testing in the United States." Twining's son, Frederick W. Twining (1895-1976),
also a chemist with vast experience in the petroleum industry, managed the
business after his father's death. He expanded the operation into Bakersfield,
Visalia, Modesto, Stockton and Long Beach. Twining Laboratories continues today
to be a major source for the testing of soils and materials in the central San
The Old Fresno Water Tower was designed by George
Washington Maher, a Chicago architect. Completed in 1894, it was in constant
use until 1963, when the pumping machinery was no longer adequate. The original
design called for a library on the second and third floors, but it was never
installed. For several years the first floor was used as a parking meter repair
facility. In 2001 the second floor was removed and the interior of the tower
remodeled to become the visitors' center for the City and County of Fresno. As
part of this remodeling a landscaped plaza and separate restroom building were
built adjacent to the tower. The water tower today remains Fresno's most
distinctive and enduring architectural symbol.
The Fresno Memorial Auditorium was designed by
Allied Architects, a Depression-era consortium that included several of
Fresno's most prominent architects of the time. It was, until 1966, Fresno's
most significant cultural facility. The building's Art Deco exterior was
outstanding for its time, and is unchanged from its original construction. The
building has additional significance because of the many political and
entertainment personalities who have appeared before its audiences. Today the
building is still used for performances and is the home of the Legion of Valor
Return to your vehicle and continue southwest on Fresno
Street. Turn right on Broadway. The Hotel Fresno is on the left in one
The Hotel Fresno, constructed in 1912 and designed
by Edward T. Foulkes, is the oldest extant hotel in the city, having been the
largest and most lavish at the time of its construction. The hotel was a
popular location for conventions, citizen groups' meetings, weddings, the
city's New Year's celebration and a choice locale for socializing after an
evening at downtown theaters. It is perhaps the earliest extant example of
Classical Revival commercial architecture in Fresno, reflecting the city's
architectural transformation when it began modernizing architecturally, moving
away from the "rambling asymmetrically-massed buildings of the high Victorian
era of the late-19th century" and expressing instead the classically inspired
tripartite commercial architecture which was emerging throughout the
Return to Fresno Street and then return northeast. Turn left
on Van Ness. The Fresno Bee Building (1922) is on the left at the corner
of Calaveras Street and Van Ness Avenue (1545 Van Ness Avenue).
This Renaissance Revival building, designed by
architect Leonard F. Starks, was original headquarters of The Fresno
Bee, which was established in 1922 as a challenger to The Fresno Morning
Republican newspaper. More recently, it was for many years the home of the
Fresno Metropolitan Museum.
Turn left on Calaveras Street and left on Fulton Street. At
the corner of Fulton & Tuolumne streets you will find the Pantages
(Warnor's) Theatre (1929) on the left at 1400-1430 Fulton Street, and the
San Joaquin Light & Power Corporation Building (1923) on the right
at 1401 Fulton Street.
The Pantages Theatre was constructed in the
Moorish Revival style by Alexander Pantages, one of the most prominent managers
of vaudeville entertainment and a renowned theater magnate. Before he retired,
he owned sixteen large theaters outright and controlled forty more. All of the
houses owned or operated by Pantages, including this one, were designed by
architect B. Marcus Priteca. In 1929 the theater was purchased by Warner
Brothers, and its name changed to "Warner's Theatre." Fresno thus became the
second West Coast city to have a Warner Brother's motion picture theater. The
theater was used primarily for motion pictures until 1973, when it was sold to
the present owners. Since that time it has been used mainly for concerts. Its
name was changed to "Warnors Theatre" in the 1960s.
The San Joaquin Light & Power Corporation had
its beginnings in 1895 and then expanded to serve the rapidly-growing light and
power needs of the San Joaquin Valley. The construction of this building in
1923-1924 is symbolic of the prestige and significance the company had
attained. Also at this time, the City of Fresno had grown from a small town to
a major city. A building boom during the 1910s and 1920s resulted in
construction of a sizable number of significant buildings. This building was
and still remains a significant visual landmark in the city, and is an
excellent example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style. In addition, it was
constructed by R. F. Felchlin Co., an important local architectural,
engineering and construction firm.
From Fulton Street, turn left on Tuolumne Street, left on L
Street, right on Calaveras Street, and left on M Street. The Louis Einstein
Home (1913) is on the right at 1600 M Street, immediately followed on the
right by the YWCA Residence Hall (1922) at 1660 M Street.
The Einstein Home was designed in the Craftsman
English Cottage style by architect Edward T. Foulkes for Louis Einstein
(1847-1914), pioneer merchant, banker and civic leader in Fresno County. In
1874 Einstein and H. D. Silverman opened a store in Fresno under the name
Silverman and Einstein Company. After Silverman's death in 1877, the name was
changed to the Louis Einstein Company. Einstein moved from storekeeping to
banking when he founded the Bank of Central California in 1887. He served as
president of the bank until his death. He also served as president of the
Einstein Investment Company and the First National Bank of Coalinga. Active in
nearly all the early economic developments of Fresno, Einstein supported the
city's first irrigation, gas, and street car ventures. He helped in organizing
the free library movement and for several years served as a member of the
Library Board. A patron of the liberal arts and music, Einstein was active in
the formation of the Unitarian Church in Fresno. Louis Einstein died in his
home in 1914. His widow, Eda, and other family memberes continued to live in
the house until her death. The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
bought the house for their activities building in 1950. It has been in
continuous use by the YWCA since then.
The YWCA Residence Hall was designed by Julia
Morgan, one of America's foremost women architects. Morgan was the official
architect in the West for the YWCA, one of her best clients. She designed YWCA
buildings in most major cities in California, Utah, Hawaii, and in Japan. Built
in 1922, the Fresno YWCA Residence Hall is the last such building designed by
Morgan that is still used for its original purposeproviding moderate-cost
housing for young women.
Turn left on San Joaquin Street. The Romain Home (1905)
is on the right at the corner of Van Ness Avenue and San Joaquin (2055 San
The Romain Home has been closely associated for
some seventy-five years with individuals who have made significant
contributions to the City of Fresno, the San Joaquin Valley, and the State of
California. It was designed by Eugene Mathewson and constructed in 1905 for
Frank Romain, one of the pioneering agricultural developers in the central San
Joaquin Valley. The erection of his fine residence in 1905 is an indication of
Romain's early success and of his position of responsibility in the development
of the local economy. Following Romain's death in 1928, the residence
functioned as the Sullivan, Burns, and Blair Funeral Home from 1929 to 1959.
All three partners were involved in local community affairs, and Hugh Burns was
also a prominent member of the California legislature from 1936 to 1970. When
Burns retired in 1970, he was credited with having held the second-longest
record of continuous service in the State Legislature in the history of
California. The Romain Home's association with prominent members of the
community continued after William Whitehurst leased it in 1959 for use as a
funeral home (he purchased it in 1970). In addition to his activities in the
local community, William Whitehurst served for seven years on the State Highway
Commission. The Romain Home also possesses architectural significance through
its representation of a typical house form and style of architecture that once
was very prominent but that has all but disappeared in Fresno. Its honest,
non-eclectic approach to housing for upper-middle-class society is
representative in form and material of much of early Fresno.
Proceed north on Van Ness Avenue. Continue on Van Ness for 1.1
miles. Turn left on Olive Avenue. The Tower Theatre (1939) is on the
right at the corner of Wishon and Olive avenues (1201 N. Wishon).
The Tower Theatre is the most dramatic example of
the Streamline Moderne style in Fresno. It is an example of late-1930s suburban
theaters designed by Los Angeles architect S. Charles Lee (1899-1990). The
Tower was Lee's only completed project in Fresno. A complete restoration of the
exterior facade, ongoing tenant improvements in the retail wings, and
modifications to allow the adaptive reuse of the theater auditorium for the
performing arts was honored with a California Preservation Foundation Award for
Outstanding Achievement in Restoration, and an Award of Honor from the San
Joaquin Chapter, American Institute of Architects.
Return east on Olive Avenue to the Paul Kindler Home
(1929), on the right at 1520 E. Olive Avenue.
This impressive French-Norman Revival dwelling was
the personal residence of one of Fresno's most accomplished masonry craftsmen,
Paul Kindler. It is a prime example of the quality work produced by the man who
was the masonry contractor on most of the major commercial buildings erected in
Fresno during the 1920s. Not only does this home exemplify the quality
construction and architectural design of its era, but it also preserves the
techniques and talent of Fresno's leading mason during the time of the city's
most rapid growth. Kindler is credited with the beautiful and often ornate
brick and terra cotta construction on many of Fresno's most noteworthy
buildings. Kindler's best known projects were, no doubt, the San Joaquin Light
and Power building in 1922, and in 1923-24, the Pacific Southwest
Return west on Olive Avenue. Turn right on Van Ness Avenue,
which becomes Maroa Avenue soon after it crosses McKinley Avenue. The Fresno
City College Old Administration Building (1916) is to the right on the
Fresno City College campus (1101 E. University Avenue). It's difficult to see
this building well from the street, so you may wish to park and view it on
foot. Be aware that parking may be difficult to find if classes are in session.
Fresno City College Old Administration Building
(1916) Last Updated by kevin < 1 minute ago 1101 E. University Avenue. The
Old Administration building is the only surviving complex remaining from the
Fresno State Normal School, the first institution of higher education for the
training of teachers in the San Joaquin Valley. It was designed in the Spanish
Renaissance style by architect George McDougall. Construction began in 1915 and
was completed in 1916; it was the first permanent building on the campus. The
building originally contained administrative offices, classrooms and a library
on the second floor. After standing empty for many years and threatened with
demolition, the building was restored and re-opened in 2011.
The last three stops involve more driving distance than all
the previous stops combined. Two of them require an admission fee to see in any
meaningful way, and the other is a landfill. Consider yourself warned.
From the FCC Administration Building, continue north on Maroa
Avenue. Turn left on Clinton Avenue and proceed 2.1 miles to Highway 99. Take
Highway 99 North 3.7 miles to the Shaw Avenue exit. Turn left on Shaw Avenue.
The Forestiere Underground Gardens (1906-1946) are on the right at 5021
W. Shaw Avenue. Virtually nothing of the gardens is visible from the street,
since almost all of the historic elements are below ground. The Underground
Gardens are open to the public (admission fee required), and are well worth a
visit. Hours vary throughout the year.
here for information.
The Forestiere Underground Gardens were designed
and hand-sculpted by Baldasare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant. A vineyardist
and horticulturalist, Forestiere began in the early 1900s to carve and sculpt a
thoroughly unique underground retreat to escape the San Joaquin Valley's
excessive heat. After nearly forty years with hand tools and persistent effort,
he succeeded in creating a cool subterranean complex fashioned after the
"visions stored in my mind." Forestiere worked without blueprints or plans,
following only his creative instincts and aesthetic impulses. He continued
expanding and modifying the gardens throughout his life. Baldasare Forestiere
died in 1946 at the age of sixty-seven. After his death, the Underground
Gardens were opened to the public as a museum.
Return to Highway 99 South, and proceed approximately 9 miles
to Highway 41 South. From 41, take the Jensen Avenue exit and drive west on
Jensen for approximately 2.5 miles. The Fresno Sanitary Landfill (1937)
is on your left. Enter the parking lot for the Fresno Regional Sports Park,
which runs parallel to the landfill.
The Fresno Sanitary Landfill (the only Fresno
National Register property to also be designated a National Historic Landmark)
is the oldest "true" sanitary landfill in the United States, and the oldest
compartmentalized municipal landfill in the western United States. It is the
first landfill to employ the trench method of disposal and first to utilize
compaction. The man responsible for developing, implementing and disseminating
the sanitary landfill in the United States was Jean Vincenz (1894-1989), who
served as commissioner of public works, city engineer, and manager of utilities
in Fresno, California, from 1931 to 1941. The Fresno Sanitary Landfill is an
important historical site because it established the prototype for the modern
sanitary landfill in the United States, particularly in the developmental
stages of that technology from 1937 to 1950. Vincenz's design, incorporating
the trench method, layering of waste and dirt, and daily covering of the fill
area introduced a method of disposal that for its time provided a systematic
and hygienic method of disposal through the use of the best technology
available. No other solid waste disposal option was as widely utilized in the
United States and elsewhere as the sanitary landfill.
Continue west on Jensen Avenue and turn right on Marks Avenue.
Drive 1.5 miles and then turn left on Kearney Boulevard (or Madison Avenue,
depending on which side of Marks you read the sign). Immediately after turning
left, make another diagonal left to stay on Kearney Boulevard. The landscaping
on either side of the boulevard is part of M. Theo Kearney's original design
for the boulevard leading to his home. Travel west for 4 miles to the Kearney
Park entrance on your left. Enter the park ($5 admission fee per car) and
follow the signs to the Kearney Mansion (1903). The home is a museum
operated by the Fresno City & County Historical Society.
Martin Theodore Kearney (1842-1906) was a
substantial contributor to the agricultural development of both Fresno County
and the state of California. He began his career in Fresno by managing the
Central California Colony development. Kearney devised a subdivision system
whereby fencing and irrigation for all the lots in the colony were provided
cooperatively. This enabled middle-class purchasers to start farming without
the tremendous financial outlay otherwise necessary. Kearney later promoted
several developments of his own, including the Easterby Colony east of Fresno,
and the Fruit Vale Estate to the west. He advertised Fresno County far and
wide, using various attractive promotional brochures that described Fresno as a
veritable Garden of Eden. The mansion consists of two buildings, a main
residence and an adjoining servants' quarters. The two buildings are designed
in the French Renaissance style, simulated through the use of materials
indigenous to the area and through the use of Victorian stock moldings, all
built by workers employed by owner M. Theo. Kearney. Both buildings have a
basic rectangular form with walls of two-foot-thick unstabilized adobe brick,
covered with a thin coat of plaster for waterproofing. The Kearney Mansion is
located in the 225-acre "Chateau Fresno Park" (now Kearney Park), begun by
Kearney in 1892. Rudolph Ulrich, the noted American landscape architect from
New York, laid out the design for this park and the boulevard leading to it.
Over the next fourteen years, Kearney turned a flat, barren landscape into one
of the most beautiful parks in the United States. At the turn of the century
the park may have contained more species of trees, vines, shrubs and roses than
any equal area in the United States. The San Francisco Chronicle called it the
"most beautiful park on the West Coast." The eleven-mile boulevard leading from
downtown Fresno to the park was lined with alternating eucalyptus and palms,
interspersed with 18,000 white and pink oleanders.
This ends the tour. Exit the park and turn right onto Kearney
Boulevard. Turn left on Hayes Avenue and then right on Whitesbridge Road
(Highway 180 East). This will lead you back to the 180 East freeway in
National Register of
Historic Places sites in Fresno, California in a larger map