Historic Districts

Proposed St. John's Cathedral Historic District

This district, located in the northeast corner of downtown Fresno, was originally proposed as part of an undated Historic Districts Plan prepared by Brenda M. Carter for the City of Fresno. Carter suggested the name "Hospital Hill District" for this area. The 1994 Supplementary Historic Building Survey for the Ratkovich Plan Area, by John Edward Powell and Michael J. McGuire, proposed a slightly modified set of boundaries for this district, and suggested that it be called the "St. John's Cathedral District."

As defined by Powell and McGuire, this district is composed of approximately seven city blocks, bounded on the northwest by Fresno Street, on the north by Divisadero Street, on the northeast by U Street, on the southeast by Tulare Street and on the southwest by the Santa Fe Railroad tracks (view map of district boundary and some contributing buildings).

Powell and McGuire noted that a number of fine homes have been lost to demolition or relocation. The major example of this loss is the empty parcel located at 1119 S Street. Originally the site of the F. C. Meehan Home, an enormous Gambrel Colonial Revival style structure, this land was cleared in 1968 and remains empty to this day. The house was moved to rural Madera County, where it survives in genuine magnificence at 34614 Avenue 9.

Employing the most liberal interpretation possible, the properties contributing to historic district status represent only 54% of the building stock in this area, according to Powell & McGuire's calculations. Although the district falls far short of federal standards for districting, it is recommended that an exception be made for local level designation.

The name "Hospital Hill District" derives from the fact that this area of downtown Fresno has been associated with health care for well over a century. In 1876 the City of Fresno purchased property for a hospital in this area; when the hospital moved to a different site, the Burnett Sanitarium filled the void. The Sanitarium eventually became Fresno Community Hospital. The affluent were drawn to the area, possibly because of the elevated configuration of the land and the proximity to the hospital. Today the area derives much of its historic identity–and name–from the St. John's Cathedral at R and Mariposa Streets.