National Register of Historic Places

Fresno City College Administration Building

Fresno City College
Old Administration Building (1916)

1101 University Avenue
George McDougall, Architect
Spanish Renaissance


The Fresno City College Old Administration Building, located on the west side of the college campus, is built of solid brick with tapestry face brick. The roof covering is mission clay tile. Among its decorative features are handmade hard-burned bricks, classic ornamentation at the main and secondary entrances, classic brick arches and stone balconies overlooking central courtyards, and lavish Moorish geometric details in brick on the east and west walls of the auditorium and above the arches of the covered walks around the perimeter of the courts.

In a statement prepared by the State Architect, George McDougall, in 1916, he noted that the sunny California climate was largely responsible for the remarkable open air features of the building's courtyards. He had decided, "to use brick and stone in warm shades and of a style reminiscent of the Renaissance architectures built with these materials in Northern Italy and Spain." While modern requirements had necessitated "a free translation of these styles," he had nevertheless introduced themes "recalling Spanish woodturning and Lombard brickwork." McDougall concluded that "we think the building of the Fresno Normal School is a distinct step in the advancement of school architecture in this state."

Historical significance

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. 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.

The Normal School developed into Fresno State Teacher's College in 1921, into Fresno State College in 1935, and into Fresno City College in 1956 when Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno) moved to a new campus several miles to the north. After standing empty for many years and threatened with demolition, the building was restored and re-opened in 2011.

Adapted from the original National Register of Historic Places nomination, by Ephraim K. Smith.