Results tagged “buildings” from Raincross Square

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From the eclectic Mission Inn and magnificent County Courthouse to the modern City Hall and mid-century public library, downtown Riverside is rich in architectural history and variety. Fortunately, many of these gems are within walking distance down a few adjoining streets. As such, we've created a few short circular, self-guided tours -- Mission Inn Avenue, University Avenue and Main Street.

The three tours, which we first produced for ThingsToDoInlandEmpire.com, can easily be completed within 1 to 2 hours each (depending, of course, on how fast you walk). So print out the articles, put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and be sure to bring your camera!


TOUR: MISSION INN AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour




TOUR: UNIVERSITY AVENUE | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour




TOUR: MAIN STREET | MAP: View a larger Google Maps of this tour


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2010
3750 Main Street - former Franzen / Westbrook's / Imperial hardware stores


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c.1936
Westbrook's Hardware

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1966
Pedestrian Mall

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2002
Imperial Hardware

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2007
Removal of Imperial false-front

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2011
Preparing to enter

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2011
Level one

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2011
Rickety stairs to level two

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2011
Level two

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2011
Damaged ceilings

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2011
Ladies' lounge wallpaper

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2011
"Westbrook's"

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2011
Basement

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2011
Freight elevator

What does one find upon entering a building that's been out of public use for much of the past 40 years? A few weeks back, we were lucky enough to find out as we ventured along with fellow Old Riverside Foundation members into the long-shuttered Franzen / Westbrook's / Imperial hardware building at 3750 Main Street. Allowing us access and helping lead the tour were several officials with the city of Riverside, including Carl Carey, Emilio Ramirez, Robert Wise, Erin Gettis and councilmen Mike Gardner and Andy Melendrez.

The structure itself dates back to at least 1900 when Franzen Hardware opened its doors. Owned by Henry and Chris Franzen, the store was later sold in 1921 to R.H. Westbrook, whose family had become partners with the Franzen's in 1908. Following a 1935 fire that wiped out most of the stock, the building was refurbished, restocked and renamed Westbrook's Hardware. Part of the post-fire remodeling included the Art Deco façade visible today.

In September 1959, Westbrook's was sold to El Centro-based Imperial Hardware Co., a small chain of 14 hardware and housewares stores in Southern California, this according to an article in the Riverside Press. City permits indicate Imperial covered up the Westbrook's façade in 1964 with a modern false-front -- a common practice at the time. Imperial remained until 1972 before relocating to the then relatively new Tyler Mall (where it lasted for a short period).

For whatever reason, a replacement tenant for the old building never materialized. As such, Imperial's sleek metal front remained intact until June 2007, when its removal re-exposed the impressive 1930s Art Deco façade.

Upon signing waivers, grabbing flashlights and donning hard hats, it was time for us to explore the dark and mysterious interior. What would we find? How bad was its condition? Was anything salvageable?

On level one, we immediately noticed lots of dust and debris and what appeared to be various amounts of stored items (more on this later). As we lumbered around, we saw that the 2-level plus basement structure was comprised of two buildings unified into a single store. A large central wall separated the two nearly-equal parts, with cutouts allowing passage between the northern and southern sections.

Along the main wall in the middle of the northern section was an L-shaped stairway to the basement. Nearby, a small passenger elevator waited patiently, call buttons still intact. Tucked in the corner at the back was a freight elevator. Another stairway, this one heading up to level two, stood crumbling close by. Its heavily soiled carpet indeed had seen better days.

The building contained two more stairways: a third in the northern section just inside the building's main entrance, which headed directly to the basement; and a fourth -- the only stairway in the southern section -- leading up to a small mezzanine level in the back. Decorative metal railing lined it and the mezzanine's balcony.

After our initial surprise of actually being inside the building wore off and our eyes gained traction in the dark, realization that the interior had suffered serious neglect over the past 40-plus years was quite evident.

Throughout, the floor was covered in dust and debris -- and yes, a fair amount of bird excrement. Hanging down in several spots was water damaged ceiling tiles. Front window casements on level two looked old and tired. A room on the same level had large holes in the roof exposing the sky above. And while some lighting fixtures were present, none appeared ready to illuminate our tour.

In general, both the basement and level two were free of large items. Support poles and crumbling debris -- particularly on level two -- provided much of the scenery. However, the ground level contained fair amounts of stored items. Everything from old office equipment, furniture and décor to aging bankers boxes stuffed with business records, some of which had escaped and now littered the floor.

An unexpected discovery was various items for Woodhaven Development (one | two), a once mighty Riverside home builder. (It's believed the building at one time had been owned by David Miller of Miller's Outpost fame and Woodhaven.)

Probably one of the most curious finds was a 12-inch, encircled "W" inlaid on the floor immediately in front of the passenger elevator on level two. No doubt this logo stood for Westbrook's.

Elsewhere, a few other surprises greeted us. On level two was what appeared to be the former "Appliance" section, with decorative mid-century lattice. Also on level two was the ladies lounge / restroom, which looked probably as it did 40 years earlier, with most fixtures and décor still in place including sinks, toilets and Victorian style wallpaper (one | two). (On a related note, remnants for at least seven styles of wallpaper were present in the building, including one | two | three.)

In the basement, we noticed blackened bricks along the southern wall, likely from the 1935 fire that destroyed much of what was then Franzen's Hardware. Next, we stumbled upon a Lamson pneumatic tube system likely dating from the 1930s. Attached to a support pole were two tubes that emptied into a metal basket. The tubes followed a ceiling beam toward the rear, possibly ending up in the southern section's mezzanine level.

Affixed to the same support pole next to the tube system, we found a typed phone listing with extensions for the once vibrant departments: Hardware, Appliances, Furniture, Carpet, Drapery, Housewares, China, Sporting Goods, Credit and Delivery. Scribbled nearby were a few old Riverside "OVerland" exchange phone numbers as well as the address for Lindgren's Hardware (which is still doing business on Brockton Ave.). Lastly, our flashlights spotted a near-mint price tag for Imperial Hardware Co. hanging from a nail, adding context to our other finds.

Overall, it seems the tour left most of us scratching our heads wondering why the building had been left to essentially rot for 40 years. Undoubtedly, lots of cleanup was needed. But was there anything worth grabbing? Yes indeed. And was the interior itself salvageable? Probably not.

And though we understand various redevelopment plans have been floated in recent years, we're hopeful the city -- which now owns the building -- will find a compatible re-use for it. Certainly, incorporating the building's shell into any new pedestrian mall friendly development seems plausible, and in fact, even warranted considering it's probably the best Art Deco façade remaining in Riverside.

Related

Previous

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library, "Riverside in Postcards" (Steve Lech), "Riverside - Then & Now" (Glenn Edward Freeman)


Photos: Riverside's citrus legacy

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Two weeks back, we featured an item on the recent unveiling of a downtown statue honoring Riverside citrus pioneer Eliza L. Tibbets.

In the early 1870s, Eliza secured two small navel orange trees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for test planting in Riverside. Originating as a mutation in Bahia, Brazil, these navel trees took well to Riverside's semi-arid climate, producing a sweet, succulent and seedless navel orange. California -- and in particular, Inland Southern California -- would never be the same.

The unveiling of the statue prompted us to dig through our image bank for photos associated with Riverside's citrus legacy. Of course, it also forced us to go out and take some new photos for items we didn't already have (and update some we did).

Though certainly not a complete collection of images related to Riverside's citrus past (nor does it include images from other local citrus-rich communities, namely Redlands, Corona and Upland), we feel the gallery still manages to show the wide-reaching importance the navel orange played in shaping both Riverside's landscape and its history -- a history that was dramatically changed with the arrival of two seemingly inconspicuous navel orange trees in 1873.

Photo Gallery: Riverside's Citrus Legacy

Related

Sources: "A Colony For California" (Tom Patterson), "Pursuing Eden - Matthew Gage: His Challenges, Conquests and Calamities" (Joan H. Hall), "A Citrus Legacy" (Joan H. Hall), "Adobes, Bungalows, and Mansions of Riverside, California Revisited" (Esther H. Klotz, Joan H. Hall), City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library


Relocated Marcy Branch Library opens

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2011
New Marcy Branch
6927 Magnolia Avenue

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2011
New Marcy Branch

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2011
New Marcy Branch

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Former Marcy Branch
3723 Central Avenue
(Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke)

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2011
Former Marcy Branch

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2011
Former Marcy Branch

After about three years of planning, renovation and moving, Riverside's Marcy Branch Library has reopened. The new location, near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues, is about 1 mile from its former spot on Central Avenue near the Riverside Plaza.

The relocated Marcy Branch occupies the bottom floor of an 18,000 sq. ft., two-story building on Magnolia Avenue (with the city's Parks, Recreation and Community Services taking the top floor). The building was built in 1972 to house district offices for the Automobile Club of Southern California. The architect was well-known Riverside architectural firm, Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann.

The Auto Club remained in the building until 1998 when a new office building opened at 3700 Central Avenue on the site of the former Southern California Gas Co. district headquarters. (Ironically, the new Auto Club building sits directly across the street from the old Marcy Branch library.) Prior to becoming the new Marcy Branch, the former Auto Club building housed offices for Realty Executives (until about 2009).

Completely refurbished to the tune of $7.9 million, the new Marcy Branch comprises 9,000 square feet of space (about double the previous location). The roomier location includes over 30 computer stations, WiFi access, a study room, self-checkout stations -- and indoor restrooms (which were located outside at the old branch).

The expanded children's section contains an environmentally-themed mural, a story-time gathering area, children's computers, and a life-size "interactive tree" that houses a memory game and puppet theater.

Adjacent to the building is a small outdoor area with a bench, grass and shade trees. Directly across the street is tiny, but inviting, Low Park.

Still unclear is the fate of the former Marcy Branch, which originally began in 1951 as the Magnolia Center Branch located at Palm School (now Riverside Adult School).

In 1958, the branch moved into a newly-constructed building on Central Avenue. The branch was renamed Marcy Branch in honor of longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy whose bequest helped provide funding for the building. Its fanciful, mid-century design by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau (of Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann) includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular during the 1950s and 1960s.

At least one proposal calls for the nearby Lucky Greek fast food restaurant -- impacted by the Magnolia Avenue railroad underpass project -- to take up residence in the old Central Avenue library building.

Reuse plans may have stalled recently, but whatever the outcome, we hope a viable reuse -- one that doesn't overly damage the original character of the mid-century building -- can be found for the old Marcy Branch.

Previous


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2011
Signage
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2011
Environmental mural
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2011
Computer stations


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2011
Ceiling
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2011
Story time
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2011
Navel mural
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2011
View toward Low Park


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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy
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2011
Former Marcy

B&W photo of Marcy Library courtesy of Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library


Then & Now - Sears

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In 1964, after nearly 35 years in downtown Riverside, Sears Roebuck & Co. opened a new, larger "suburban-style" store about 5 miles southwest of its former Main Street store.

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Then & Now
Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008
Flash: View photo overlay

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@2009
Area overview
MS Virtual Earth

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Store overview
MS Virtual Earth

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Mid-1960s
Full parking lot

Located on 19 acres at the northeast corner of Arlington and Streeter avenues, the 93,000 sq. ft., $3 million store was Sears' largest store in Inland Southern California when it opened. As a "Class A" store, it offered the retailers' complete line of merchandise -- both hard and soft goods. It also included a full-service automotive fueling and repair station. And, according to a Press-Enterprise article from November 1963, it included a 76-seat restaurant. (Can anyone confirm whether the restaurant opened, and if so, how long it remained?)

Though the iconic green Sears script logo, the gas station, the restaurant -- if there ever was one -- and the aroma of freshly-popped popcorn so many of us remember as kids are all long gone, the store itself remains much as it did in 1964, with a ground-level sales floor and full basement.

Outside, the exterior sports the classic "California" motif with mid-century facade, flagstone veneer and palm trees sprouting up through the overhangs. This design, seen in several west coast (a) stores built during the 1960s, was a product of Los Angeles-based Charles Luckman (b) & Associates (who also designed the former Broadway (c)/Macy's store at Riverside's Galleria at Tyler). For those interested, Lindgren & Swinnerton was the general contractor for the new store.

Prior to the Arlington Avenue location, Riverside's first Sears store opened in 1929 near the corner of Fifth and Main streets (near today's Marriott Hotel). Nine years later, on June 2, 1938, a newly-relocated Sears opened at 3700 Main Street. The new store, which replaced the 1890 Rubidoux Building, included two floors, a mezzanine and basement. It also provided "drive-up" service to an automotive center (d) in an adjacent building located at the rear (where Mario's restaurant is today). Enclosed skybridges provided access between the two buildings. For several years recently, the former Main Street Sears has housed the popular Mission Galleria antiques.

It's interesting to note the Arlington Avenue Sears is a bit of an anomaly in Southern California in that it is not located at or near a mall, but in fact is a full-size, stand-alone store. Most SoCal Sears, particularly those built post-1960, anchor malls, including nearby stores in San Bernardino, Montclair and Moreno Valley. But with the recent announcement of Gottschalks' bankruptcy and liquidation -- which will create a vacancy at the Riverside Plaza -- will Riverside's Sears make the move to a mall?

Flash: Riverside Sears: 1964 - 2008

More: RaincrossSquare.com - Then & Now

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2008
"California" motif
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2009
East entrance
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2009
1960s logo


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2009
Stairwell
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Escalators
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Basement
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Ground floor


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2008
Sleek facade
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2009
Automotive center
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2009
Old Main
Street Sears
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2008
Old Main
Street Sears



(a) Courtesy of Malls of America
(b) Loyola Marymount University - Charles Luckman Collection
(c) Courtesy of Jim Van Schaak
(d) Courtesy of RPD Remembers



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)


County looking to acquire downtown buildings

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As part of its plans for acquiring necessary land for future buildings, Riverside County is negotiating to purchase two buildings in downtown Riverside. The purchases of the buildings, which opened months apart in 1961, would consolidate county ownership of the block bounded by Main, Orange, Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets.

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2009
Overview
MS Virtual Earth

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2009
First American Title

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2009
Mile Square Building

Though no immediate plans have been announced for the site, the long-term fate of the existing buildings -- First American Title Insurance Co. and Mile Square Building -- could be in question. According to statements given to The Press-Enterprise, the county's director of facilities management, Rob Field, says it's not likely the county would tear down the First American Title building, which fronts Fourteenth Street. However, even less assurance was given to the Mile Square Building, which faces Thirteenth Street.

Most folks will instantly recognize the First American Title building. Its traditional brick veneer, Colonial-style facade indeed is an instant eye catcher. The building was designed by Riverside architect Dale V. Bragg and constructed by Vern L. Miller of San Bernardino. City permits show the 2-story building at 8,766 sq. ft. (likely per floor) with a cost of $203,000. A 1978 permit shows an additional 7,276 sq. ft. tacked onto the building.

Also built by Miller and designed by Bragg is the adjacent and nearly twin-sized Mile Square Building. Though built at the same time as the neighboring Title building, Bragg designed the 2-story Mile Square Building with a sleek modern facade, using a mixture of earth-toned brick veneer and large panes of glass. City permits list the building at 8,850 sq. ft. (again, likely per floor) with a cost of $235,000.

In our opinion, the Mile Square Building -- along with the 1960 (former) IBM Building located nearby at 3610 Fourteenth Street -- is a nice representation of the "modernism" style of architecture popular during the 1950s and 1960s. But as with many buildings from this time period, the building -- and the style -- is often overlooked.

Though on the surface most folks might disagree, we'd rather see the Mile Square Building retained over the First American Title if only because the former pinpoints a specific period and style of building from America's post-war boom. Although an attractive and distinctive building in its own right, the same cannot be said of the Title building's early-American inspired motif (a style employed by First American Title on many of its buildings elsewhere).

Are the buildings worth preserving? For us, much would depend upon what eventually replaces one or both. Simply knocking them down for newer low-rise buildings -- or worse, asphalt parking -- would seem pointless and wasteful. With regards to the Mile Square Building, we'd hate to lose one of Riverside's distinctive 1960s, Mid-Century Modern office buildings. However, as it currently stands, the block is mostly underused and this portion of downtown is indeed best suited for future, large-scale office buildings. Thus, if a "super-block" plan emerges for the site, one which produces a "signature" building, the long-term benefits of such a development could likely sway us.

Related


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2004
Central Fire Station
(aka Downtown Fire Station No. 1)

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2008
Rear view

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circa 1980
Central Fire Station*
Courtesy of Daniel Balboa

Last month, California's State Historical Resources Commission added Riverside's downtown Central Fire Station to the state's Register of Historic Resources. Entering its sixth decade of operation, plans are underway for a replacement fire station on the block directly behind the current station.

We've always had an eye for the building's simplistic, yet unique exterior, which is an excellent example of "form follows function" design. However, it wasn't until recent in-depth research in which our appreciation for the edifice was cemented.

Designed by local architect Bolton C. Moise, Jr., the structure came online in 1957 as a replacement for a station* located around the corner at Eighth (University) and Lemon streets. The layout of the new building incorporated the stacking of the dormitory quarters atop the ground-level offices -- while still maintaining immediate access to the engines -- thereby allowing for an adjacent, column-free engine bay* (a necessity for modern fire equipment). The new building also included modern fire communication equipment and updated living amenities.

During its early years, the station's design was heralded by city leaders and architects alike. But, as with many Mid-Century Modern buildings, the building has seen its share of indifference over the years as well.

Recently, the site has seen at least two mixed-use proposals, both of which included the demolition of the existing fire station. We're unsure as to the current status of the latest plan, which in light of current economic conditions, may have stalled.

Related


* Photos courtesy of Daniel Balboa

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise


Then & Now - Downtown Post Office

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Over the past 96 years, downtown Riverside has seen 2 main post offices built, the first in 1912 and the second in 1939.

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U.S. Post Office
Late 1950s - 2008
Flash: View photo overlay

First came the 1912 Federal Building located on Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue). Sporting Italian-Renaissance architecture, the building served as the city's main post office for nearly 30 years. Afterward, the building became the headquarters for the 4th Air Force during World War II. Later uses included housing the city's police department*, and currently, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

The second downtown post office, located a few blocks away on the northeast corner of Ninth and Orange streets, came online just as World War II was beginning. Built at a cost of $175,900, this later version sports Spanish-Mission architecture with Art Deco/Moderne-influenced designs inside.

Seen in photos approximately 50 years apart, this second post office remains an architectural gem in downtown today. Note in the 1950s photo the lack of trees but a hedge which still remains today. Note also that Orange Street is a two-way street as opposed to today's one-way between University Avenue and Fourteenth Street.

Finally, visible in the far right background of the earlier photo is the First Baptist Church. Located at the northeast corner of Ninth and Lemon, the church site today is home to a 5-story building constructed in the late 1980s.

Flash: Downtown Post Office - Late 1950s - 2008

* Photo courtesy of RPD Remembers

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)


Update: Regency Tower - July 2008

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Rendering
Silagi Development


Project site
Google

A drive past the site of the Regency Tower site in downtown Riverside shows work is well underway on the 3-level, underground parking garage for the $70 million office building.

The past few weeks has seen the arrival of an on-site crane used for the building's skeletal steel frame. Over the next several months, downtown visitors will see the steel frame, which is currently at ground level, rise up into the city's skyline.

Site preparation for the project began in April 2007 with actual construction starting on the subterranean parking this past February. Completion of the 10-story, 250,000 sq. ft. building is expected in late 2009.

Previous



Jan. 2007
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Feb. 2008
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July 2008
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July 2008
Underground
parking

Arlington Branch Library reopens

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After nearly 2 years of construction and renovation, Riverside's Arlington Branch Library reopened to the public this past week following an 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the 99-year-old building. The new wing nearly triples the size of the current library to 13,000 sq. ft.

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2008
Original building

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2008
New addition

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2008
Shades of the past

The new addition mimics the original building's Greek Revival styling, which was designed by local architect Seeley L. Pillar. When it first opened on June 1, 1909, the new library was the city's first "branch" library and was built to serve the southern and western portions of Riverside.

Though not technically a Carnegie library, the city built the Arlington Branch after obtaining $7,500 from the Carnegie Foundation for expanding the downtown library. The grant used for the downtown expansion freed up $7,500 for the new Arlington library, which also included a fire station attached to the back of the building.

A year-long, $8,000 renovation began in 1927 to upgrade the library after it was declared structurally unsafe, causing a temporary closure. Subsequent renovations and expansions over the years included an extensive rehab during the late 1950s; the re-use of the space housing the former fire station in 1968 (which had relocated to a separate building about a quarter-mile east on Magnolia Avenue in 1938); and another renovation in 1996.

Today, the new wing houses the majority of the library's collection of 45,000 titles. An expanded children's section, lower shelving heights and several seating areas help give the new addition a bookstore atmosphere, while natural lighting provided by expansive windows and skylights gives the library an open-air feel. Thirty-four computers and 2 self-checkout stations round out the expanded facility.

The former main room in the original building is now a 110-seat community room. Historic photographs of Riverside's past act as translucent shades on the windows that surround the room.

In a nod to the building's past, the library's new entrance uses the old stable building from the days when the structure housed the fire station. Located in this new foyer are two glass cases housing both fire- and citrus-related memorabilia from the city's past.

The reopening of the Arlington Branch is the latest improvement made to the city's 7-branch library system, which is in the midst of its largest building and renovation campaign in its history. Other projects include the soon-to-open Orange Terrace Branch Library, the relocation of the Marcy Branch Library and the expansion/renovation of downtown's Central Library. It also comes on the heels of the recent expansions/renovations at the Eastside Library/Cybrary and the La Sierra Branch Library as well as the opening of the Casa Blanca Library & Family Learning Center a few years back.

Related

Previous

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2006
Former stable
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2008
New foyer
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2008
New wing

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2008
Computer stations
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2008
Stylish seating
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2008
Community room



Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson), "Arlington" (Georgia Gordon Sercl)


Relocation of Marcy Branch likely

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In the midst of planning an expansion for the downtown branch, news surfaced recently regarding the future of another branch within Riverside's library system, this time involving the possible relocation of the tiny, but unique, Marcy Branch.

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2008
Current Marcy Branch

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2008
Future Marcy Branch?

Located on Central Avenue just west of the Riverside Plaza, the Marcy Branch opened in 1958 replacing the temporary Magnolia Center Branch established nearby in late 1951. The branch was named after longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy, whose bequest helped provide funding for the new building.

The fanciful design of the circular, single-story library includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular at the time and is yet another fine example of mid-century architecture by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau. The interior looks to be mostly intact, including what appears to be original lighting above the central reference desk.

The relocation proposal shifts the contents of the Marcy Branch into the former Auto Club building located about a mile away near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues. The plan calls for the library to occupy the first floor of the two-story, 18,000 sq. ft. building while city officials say offices for the city's Parks Department could occupy the second level.

Overall, we like the relocation plan. There's no doubt the Marcy Branch is severely cramped. The proposed move would nearly double the floor space over the existing Central Avenue location and even allow the possibility for future expansion upstairs. But what's to become of the current Marcy building? That's a question not yet answered.

Although easy to overlook and under appreciate in its current setting, we feel the existing Marcy building deserves to be preserved. Surely, the city can find an internal use for it, one that doesn't entail significant modification or costs. In fact, one such possibility comes from our friend Tanya at ModernRiverside.com. She has an excellent idea for reusing the Marcy building to house the library's Local History Resource Center, which is currently located in the basement of the downtown branch. Not only would this save the iconic Ruhnau-designed building, it would also allow greater access to more of the library's extensive local history collection.

Related

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2008
Clean
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2008
Crisp
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2008
Colorful



Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, ModernRiverside.com


Ground broken for downtown office building

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riv-2008f-dt-regency-005ac-450.jpg
Feb. 2008
Tenth at Orange streets

2008-riv-regency-tower-001-600.jpg
Rendering of Regency Tower
Silagi Development

Ground was broken recently on the largest, non-governmental office building to be built within downtown Riverside in over 15 years. When completed, the 10-story Regency Tower will also be the tallest structure built since the 12-story Marriott (Sheraton) Hotel opened in 1987.

Located at the corner of Tenth and Orange streets, the 250,000 sq. ft. building will include 3 levels of underground parking, which will be a nice change from the typical above-ground garage -- or worse, ground-level asphalt lots.

Our main question is why such a long dry spell between large, steel-framed high-rises? After an initial boom in the mid-1970s followed by mini-booms in both the mid-1980s and early-1990s, downtown had not seen a significant steel-framed structure built until the 150,000 sq. ft., 5-story Press-Enterprise building was completed in early 2007.

With having one of the few well-established and authentic downtowns within Southern California, it's difficult to fathom why Riverside has lagged recently in this regards.

Overall, our hope is that Regency Tower signals a new era of higher densities for downtown Riverside. The city (and the region) simply cannot continue building forever outward.

Photo Gallery: Downtown Riverside - Buildings & Skyline

Previous

Sources: The Press-Enterprise


Site preparation has begun and construction is expected to start next month on Regency Tower in downtown Riverside, the city's largest downtown office project since the completion of Riverside Metro Center in 1990.


2007
Regency Tower


Location
Google

Situated at the corner of Tenth and Orange streets, Regency Tower will replace the recently demolished Riverside County Municipal Court building, a 1950s-era low-rise. Plans call for a ground floor coffee shop as well as a 3-level, underground parking structure accommodating 330 vehicles. Also planned is a second, smaller building -- possibly including a restaurant -- connected via a landscaped courtyard.

The 10-story, 250,000 square foot office building is part of the city and county's efforts at redeveloping portions of downtown and will be the tallest structure built downtown since the 12-story Marriott (Sheraton) opened in 1987. The most striking architectural feature will be a dome situated atop the building at the corner of Tenth and Orange streets, which adds a distinctive feature over the typical flat-roofed office buildings currently populating downtown.

We're glad to see the coffee shop and other similar commercial uses planned within the mix, which will help spur more and varied interaction at the street level. Likewise, we're also glad to see underground parking as opposed to a separate, above-ground parking garage, or worse -- an asphalt lot.

Regency Tower comes on the heels of the recently completed, 5-story office building for The Press-Enterprise newspaper. A second 5-story office project proposed for Olivewood Avenue near Fourteenth Street is in the early planning stages. Together, the three projects signal the end of a 15-plus year drought for larger, steel-framed downtown office buildings. Hopefully, the recent activity will spur other developers downtown as opposed to simply planting down more low-rises on the city's suburban fringe.



Jan. 2007
Building site
(pre-demolition)

Feb. 2007
Former building

Feb. 2007
Former building


Feb. 2007
Demolition

Apr. 2007
Site preparation



Sources: The Press-Enterprise


Herman Ruhnau, AIA

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Last month, one of Southern California's notable post-modern architects, Herman O. Ruhnau, passed away at the age of 93 in Riverside, a city in which he left a distinctive architectural legacy.

A German by descent, Mr. Ruhnau was born Sept. 1, 1912, in Santa Barbara, eventually moving with his family to Pasadena before permanently relocating to Riverside. Ruhnau studied architecture at USC and served as an architect in the Navy during World War II, returning to Riverside following the war.

riv-2006-dt-county-005-450.jpg
2006
Riverside County
Administrative Center (1975)

riv-2006-dt-cityhall-003c-400.jpg
2006
Riverside City Hall (1975)

19840401-riv-dt-001ac-800.jpg
Original model of City Hall
Ruhnau

In 1950, Mr. Ruhnau was a founding partner of the Riverside architectural firm now known as Ruhnau, Ruhnau & Clarke. Among the buildings designed by Ruhnau's firm are two of the city's most prominent buildings: Riverside City Hall (1975) and Riverside County Administrative Center (1975):

When architect Herman Ruhnau was commissioned to design a new City Hall for Riverside in the early 1970s, his initial vision was of a sleek white concrete and recessed-glass building whose six-stories rose like alternating layers of vanilla cake with chocolate filling.

"Then we heard the cry: 'We want arches.'"

...

(On Riverside County Administrative Center) ...initial plans drafted in the mid-1960s called for an eight- to 10-story concrete and steel vertically striped tower on a solid two-story concrete base. But before the tower could be erected...Ruhnau says county officials asked for an additional two or three stories.

"We had only designed the foundation to hold 10 stories," he explains, "and the only way we could add the extra space was to redo the foundation, which was impossible, or to find some light building material that the foundation could hold."

Mirrored glass became the answer.

The Press-Enterprise (April, 1984)

Ruhnau's firm specialized in public buildings and built numerous schools throughout Inland Southern California, including La Sierra High School (1969), Norte Vista High School and Sherman Indian High School, all in Riverside. Ruhnau also designed the city's Marcy Branch Library (1958) and worked on the designs for Corona Naval Hospital in Norco.

Probably the most unique feature designed by the firm for Riverside that remains today is the downtown Main Street pedestrian mall (1966). Designed in response to the suburban exodus of retailers for large shopping malls -- including Riverside Plaza (1956) -- the pedestrian mall is making a comeback today as both residents, retailers and businesses alike rediscover its uniqueness and charm in the heart of downtown Riverside.

The non-vehicular, park-like mall stretches for 7 city blocks (Tenth to Third streets) with only one interruption (Fifth to Sixth streets) and one yet to be fully developed portion (Fourth to Third streets). Major anchors along the mall include the Mission Inn, California Tower, UCR/CMP, UCR/Culver Arts Center, Riverside Marriott as well as two civic buildings: Raincross Square Convention Center and the aforementioned City Hall.

Although a number of similar pedestrian malls were created as a response to the suburban phenomenon that deserted many downtowns during the post-war years, only a handful remain intact today, something residents and city leaders alike should remember when major changes are proposed.

In 1974, Mr. Ruhnau was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Inland Chapter of the AIA this past April.

Related

riv-2006-dt-main-univ-007-600.jpg
2006
Pedestrian Mall
riv-2006-dt-cityhall-046-450.jpg
2006
City Hall
riv-2006-dt-cityhall-005-450.jpg
2006
City Hall
ruhnau-riv-1970s-county-02a-450.jpg
@1973
Riv. Co. Admin
Rhunau
ruhnau-riv-1976-county-01a-450.jpg
@1976
Riv. Co. Admin
Rhunau

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, Rhunau Ruhnau Clarke, The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times

Then & Now - County Courthouse

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Considered one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts Classical architecture in the nation, the Riverside County Courthouse is a gem among civic buildings.

Designed by the architectural firm of Burnham and Bliesner of Los Angeles, the 1903 courthouse is patterned after the "Grand Palais" (Grand Palace) and "Petit Palais" (Little Palace) both from the 1900 Universal Exposition (World's Fair) in Paris.

TN-riv-courthouse-1960s-2006.jpg
Riverside County Courthouse
Main Street at Tenth Street
Flash: View photo overlay

1900-pc-grand_palais-002-500.jpg
1900
Grand Palais
Paris, France

riv-2006-dt-courthouse-022-600.jpg
2006
Riverside County Courthouse

The courthouse, which originally cost a mere $160,280 to construct, was rededicated October 5, 1998 following a 3-year, $25 million renovation and seismic upgrade.

The picturesque courthouse was the indirect result of an intra-county tax dispute. San Bernardino County -- of which at the time included present-day Riverside -- voted to raise taxes to fund expansion of the existing county courthouse located in downtown San Bernardino. However, this new tax was not taken lightly in Riverside, wherein higher property values equated to a higher share of the overall courthouse tax. Compounded by other similar issues, this new tax spurred Riverside officials to expedite proceedings that eventually led to the May 2, 1893 establishment of Riverside County.

Of course, Riverside now needed to fund and build its own county courthouse. Fortunately, the city's continuing rise in wealth made such funding much easier. In fact, by 1895 -- just 2 years following the establishment of the new county -- the City of Riverside was the richest city per capita in the United States. As such, the city soon began the process of commissioning new civic buildings -- including the courthouse -- that reflected the city's new wealth and stature.

However, had the city and county gone the expected route of building a Mission Revival-styled courthouse (as backed by influential Mission Inn owner Frank Milller), the elegant courthouse we see today may not have been. Instead, county supervisors were eventually persuaded in favor of a French-inspired, Beaux-Arts design. Without a doubt, the significance of that decision could not be more important today as the unique courthouse stands out among civic buildings.

In 1930, a major expansion to the courthouse by local architect G. Stanley Wilson increased courtrooms on the back, or eastern elevation (Orange St.). Designed to mimic the original Beaux-Arts motif, the expansion fits in well against the original design. However, a bulky and spartan post-war addition to the southeastern elevation (Orange/Eleventh streets), though unique in its own way, stands out in stark contrast against the magnificently detailed facades of both the original and expansion.

Regardless, thanks to the foresight of county supervisors in 1995, the grand courthouse will stand for generations to come, reminding residents and visitors alike of both the wealth and vision of the city's residents during the formative years.

Flash: County Courthouse: 1960s - 2006

Photo Gallery: Riverside County Courthouse

Related

1900-pc-petite_palais-001-500.jpg
1900
Petite Palais
Paris, France
riv-2004-dt-courthouse-009-450.jpg
2006
Riv. Co.
Courthouse
riv-2006-dt-courthouse-056-600.jpg
2006
Riv. Co. Courthouse
1930s expansion
riv-2006-dt-courthouse-044-600.jpg
2006
Riv. Co. Courthouse
Post-war addition

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson), The Press-Enterprise, WikiPedia

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