Mission Inn

Colony Heights

Main Street
Pedestrian Mall

Riverside County
Courthouse

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Welcome

This site explores the past, present and future of downtown Riverside -- one of the few truly historic downtowns in Southern California.

The name 'Raincross Square' comes from a downtown civic plaza with the same name. It is also a derivitive of 'Mile Square,' the original 1870s street grid for the city of Riverside.

Within the 'Mile Square' district of downtown are numerous historic homes, bungalows and buildings, several museums, a 4-block pedestrian mall as well as the magnificent Riverside County Courthouse and the eclectic Mission Inn. Many stand as testament to the riches attained from the once mighty navel orange industry, which originated in Riverside near the turn of the 20th century.

Straddling downtown is a large community college, the charming Colony Heights and Wood Streets neighborhoods, picturesque Mt. Rubidoux and the Olmsted-designed Fairmount Park.

Outside downtown are 3 universities (including UC Riverside), the toney Victoria and Canyon Crest neighborhoods, palm-lined Victoria Avenue and California State Citrus Historic Park.

We hope you enjoy this peek into downtown Riverside, a nice surprise within the suburban sprawl that is Greater Los Angeles.

Below is a blog highlighting recent tidbits of interest for downtown Riverside, the city and the region. To the right are the primary navigational links for the site, including categorized blog entries and archives.


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Got Riverside? RaincrossSquare is now on CafePress! We are offering a limited number of products -- such as framed prints, postcards and calendars -- using locally-themed images and graphics. Please feel free to browse our online shop.

Photo Request: We're looking for iconic shots and city views taken between 1940 - 1990 in and around Riverside, especially those where the landscape has significantly changed. Read more...

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2012
Krinard-Cage House

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Old Riverside Foundation

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Old Riverside Foundation

Celebrating Riverside's citrus heritage is the theme of Old Riverside Foundation's 21st annual Vintage Home Tour, which takes place this Saturday, May 19.

The self-guided tour showcases four privately owned homes near Victoria Avenue in the city's historic orange greenbelt as well as a downtown church with strong citrus ties.

The four homes are the James and Jessie Shaw House (1899), Puffer-Lamar House (1900), Mazzetti Bungalow (1917) and Krinard-Cage House (1925). Each house will contain a docent assisting guests with questions and tour info.

As an added bonus, downtown Riverside's Calvary Presbyterian Church will be offering tours of its stained glass sanctuary. The church, which was the family church for citrus canal builder Matthew Gage, is celebrating its 125th anniversary and will have historic photos, documents and a timeline from 1887-1947 on display.

A big part of each year's home tour is the "Restoration Faire and Vintage Mercantile" at the Weber House featuring local vendors offering restoration tips and wares. Built by Riverside architect Peter J. Weber, the house -- located at 1510 University Avenue -- is noted for its eclectic architecture (one* | two*) and early eco-friendly designs and serves as headquarters for Old Riverside Foundation.

Also on hand at the Weber House will be samples from the recent Fox Theater architectural salvage sale as well as accumulated furniture and Old Riverside Foundation vintage salvage pieces.

The self-guided home tour runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets are $15 ($20 day of tour) and are available at: www.oldriverside.org. Proceeds will help benefit historic preservation efforts of Old Riverside Foundation.

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* Photos courtesy of Old Riverside Foundation





Out & About - 05/05/2012

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Saturday saw us at two events in Riverside.

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2012
Riverside ReStore

The first was at Habitat for Humanity's Riverside ReStore where items salvaged from the historic Fox Theater were made available for purchase. The once in a lifetime event drew dozens to Habitat's store early Saturday morning for first pick of the lot, with several pieces sold (one | two | three) within a few hours.

The items -- doors, windows and power switches -- were recently donated to the Old Riverside Foundation, which in cooperation with Riverside ReStore, is selling the items. Proceeds will help benefit historic preservation efforts of Old Riverside Foundation as well as support Riverside's Habitat for Humanity home ownership mission.

Perfect for just about any home and business -- or simply as a great accent for the garden -- these unique "art" pieces will remain on sale at Riverside ReStore until sold.

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2012
Show and Go

Later in the afternoon, we headed downtown to the 14th annual Show and Go classic car event. Over 1,000 cars -- mostly from the 1950s and 1960s -- were parked and open for close inspection for several blocks along downtown streets.

The event included a slow cruise down Market Street, allowing the cars to flex their muscles to curbside spectators. Noted designer Chip Foose was even on hand signing autographs.

The three-day car show also has numerous car product booths (including Riverside's K&N Filters and Wayne's Engine Rebuilders) as well as several food vendors (including a beer truck from Hanger 24 Brewery in Redlands).

The Show and Go continues on Sunday, May 6.

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Old Riverside Foundation
Riverside ReStore

Want to own a piece of Riverside history? Here's your chance!

In cooperation with Habitat for Humanity Riverside, the Old Riverside Foundation is selling recently donated items salvaged from the historic Riverside Fox Theater. The items -- doors, windows and power switches -- were saved during the theater's 3-year, $32 million renovation that was completed in 2010.

We think the doors and windows would make a nice historic art piece for anyone's home or business. They could also be an interesting trellis or accent for any backyard garden. And the power switches would add interesting color to any mantle or wall.

The sale begins Saturday, May 5 at Habitat for Humanity's Riverside ReStore, located at 2180 Iowa Avenue (near Spruce Street). Proceeds will help benefit historic preservation efforts of Old Riverside Foundation as well as support Habitat for Humanity Riverside's home ownership mission.

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Sharing a bit of library love

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Old Riverside Foundation,
Riverside Historical Society

Download a PDF copy

Definitely one of Riverside's best mid-century buildings -- and certainly its most under-appreciated -- the downtown Main Library (a.k.a. Central Library) has spent most of its time suffering from harsh criticism.

In the past few years, however, there has been growing support for the library's mid-century designs.

Most of this support has tended to come from those that know only the "modern" library and never had a chance to visit the classic Carnegie. And now, nearly 50 years after having opened, to these eyes, the "modern" library is indeed a bit historic (just like the 1903 Carnegie was to many in the early 1960s at approximately the same age).

But appreciation has also been growing from all generations once folks become more aware of and better understand the context about some of the library's modernist designs, namely its iconic "dove" screens. To wit, we have the "Did You Know?" informational sheet.





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2012
Exotic plants are abundant at UCR's Botanic Gardens


Note: The following write-up by us on UCR's Botanic Gardens first appeared on ThingsToDoInlandEmpire.com.

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Nestled within 40 hilly acres on the eastern edge of the University of California at Riverside campus, the UCR Botanic Gardens is one of the Inland region's best-kept secrets.

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2012
Main entrance

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2012
Alder Canyon

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2012
Spring blossoms

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2012
Aloe - Eastern Africa

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2012
Arizona Barrel Cactus

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2012
Busy bee

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Friendly finds

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2012
Picturesque scenery

With four miles of self-guided walking paths and over 3,500 plant species from around the world, the park contains a diverse mix of plants and scenery. Its semi-rugged slopes help create localized microclimates, partly explaining the ability to maintain a wide range of plants allowing for year-round blooming (with April usually being the most colorful).

Once inside the gardens, visitors can decide among various paved and unpaved paths winding their way among the arroyos, trees and foliage. As you stroll around the grounds, one can't help but feel they've escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life. Scattered about the paths and trails are numerous secluded spots and park benches, each offering up opportunities for inner contemplation and picturesque scenery. Several built structures add to the scenic park-like grounds, including several bridges, gazebos, arbors and even a small pond.

The garden's plant variety also attracts various forms of wildlife, with over 200 species of birds - from hummingbirds, mockingbirds, wrens and woodpeckers to ravens, hawks, crows, jays and herons - having been recorded. The occasional rare bird, such as the turkey vulture and golden eagle, has also been spotted. Also abundant are various insects, spiders, lizards and even snakes (with lizards being the most common creature spotted). During the morning and evening hours can be seen the usual mammals - squirrels, gophers, rats, rabbits, skunks and even the occasional bobcat.

Since most of the key features are easily viewed from the paved paths (which are wheelchair accessible), we suggest a clockwise direction beginning with the Deserts and Cactus sections. From there you can make your way through the Rose, Iris and Herb gardens before ending with a leisurely stroll through Alder Canyon as you head back toward the main entrance. For those more adventurous, several unpaved paths found along the way will get you closer to the action, particularly if photographing, as well as steer you to quaint secluded areas.

Among the Botanic Garden's highlights are the eccentric forms and blossoms found in the Desert and Cactus sections. Indeed the most curious portion of the park, the area contains several exotic-looking succulents, including various species of aloe and cacti.

Another favorite is the Rose Garden, which contains over 300 selections - including miniatures - that blossom with color and fragrance during the springtime. For enthusiasts, the Botanic Gardens offers a free rose pruning demonstration, usually held each January.

One of the most unique sections of the park is the Herb Garden, where culinary and medicinal plants often fill the air with their distinct aromas. Nearby is the Geodesic Dome Lath house. Inside the redwood-built structure are several shade plants, ferns and exotic palms.
Probably the most-visited area of the park is the Alder Canyon section. Situated near the entrance, the park-like area features a grassy area with several benches and wooden bridges shaded by tall trees. Farther back, the pathway squeezes into a small arroyo flanked with pines, ficus, cypress and even palms and bamboo.

From Alder Canyon, those who wish to venture off the paved area will find several dirt paths leading up into more secluded spots as well as the Botanic Garden's way-back areas. Relatively easy to reach are the Celebration of Life Memorial and Bobcat Rocks areas. Farther back are found the Sierra Foothills (chaparral, foothill pine, mountain mahogany, California buckeye) and Australia sections (eucalyptus, bottlebrushes, acacias).

But the Botanic Gardens is more than just a horticultural exhibition. Twice each year (Spring and Fall), volunteers prep and host the Inland region's largest botanical plant and seed sale at the gardens. Nearly 10,000 plants and more than 600 varieties are available for purchase at very reasonable prices (with many under $10). The 2012 Spring Plant Sale takes place this weekend (March 31-April 1). Proceeds from the widely-attended event help fund continuing maintenance.

In May, the gardens host "Primavera in the Gardens," a wine and food tasting event. Approaching its 14th year, the fundraiser usually attracts hundreds of attendees with food and drinks provided by various local entities. Past participants have included Cafe Sevilla, Mario's Place, Simple Simon's, Smokey Canyon BBQ as well as Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Falkner Winery, Galleano, Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyard. Also on hand have been beers from Hangar 24 Craft Brewery and Inland Empire Brewery. This year's event will be held Sunday May 20, 2012. Reservations are suggested ($60 reserved or $70 day of event).

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., UCR's Botanic Gardens are open to everyone, with the primary portions being wheelchair accessible. Self-guided tours take anywhere from 1-4 hours. Bikes, pets and smoking are not allowed and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations for school tours are also available. The gardens are closed on New Year's Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

To reach the gardens, enter UC Riverside at Campus Drive off either University Avenue or Canyon Crest Drive. Follow Campus Drive easterly around to Botanic Gardens Drive located near Parking Lot 10. Continue past Lot 10, turning right and following Botanic Gardens Drive until you reach the main entrance. Entry into the gardens is free. However, a small $4 donation is requested and a short-term parking permit ($1 for 4 hours) is required and can be purchased just inside the gate.

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@1963
Architectural rendering of the Main Library, downtown Riverside
(Moise, Harbach & Hewlett)


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1966
Pacific Telephone book cover

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1967
Riverside National Bank calendar

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@1970
Outdoor sitting area

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Maturing trees

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2008
Reflecting pools long gone

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2006
Architectural details

After several recent attempts, Riverside officials have now scrapped expensive plans to construct a new downtown library in favor of a more modest renovation of the existing building.

We realize this new directive from the city council may not serve all interests and parties involved, and we do agree a modest renovation/refurbishment is warranted. However, we also admit we're glad to see the focus back to renovation and reuse versus complete demolition. Why? First and foremost, it allows for potential preservation of the building (and most/all of its architectural features). Second, a renovation plan is much less costly (and more likely to get funded/completed).

Definitely one of Riverside's best mid-century buildings -- and certainly its most under-appreciated -- construction of the downtown Main Library (a.k.a. Central Library) was approved by voters following a $1.7 million bond measure in October 1961. After several months of controversy over the location and size of parking lots around the new building, ground was formally broken on June 25, 1963.

Though opened to the public in late 1964, the library itself was officially dedicated on March 21, 1965. Initially praised for its size and modern interior, the new library was also panned by some for its stark and mostly windowless exterior. Moreover, many were bitter over the replacement of the beloved 1903 Carnegie Library, which was demolished in late 1964 around the time the new library opened directly behind it. As such, the "modern" library has spent most of its short life suffering from harsh criticism. (Indeed, the loss of the Carnegie [one* | two*] was a travesty in its own right.)

However, as a prime example of the New Formalism architectural movement, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s, the downtown library includes several hallmarks of this mid-century style: rigid box-like appearance, floating pedestal, brick veneer, strong pilasters, large overhang, fanciful canopy and period lighting (one | two | three).

Particularly striking are the building's interwoven "dove" screens (one | two) -- a symbol not likely coincidental considering the advancing Cold War era in which the library was built. As such, we feel any major modification of the dove screens -- or worse, their removal -- in any renovation plan would be a shame and essentially strip the building of its full and meaningful context. (However, we could do without the blue LIBRARY lettering above the entrance, which is not original and looks very tacky.)

Finally, we also realize the downtown library's bold and futuristic architecture stands in stark contrast to its neighbors, the most notable being the nearby Mission Inn. The two buildings are from vastly different eras and indeed are distinctly different. However, we feel it's this very juxtaposition that actually makes both buildings more unique in their own right, bringing out both the best and worst features of each (as good organic architecture should).

All in all, we believe the 1965-era library is one of the best examples of mid-century modern architecture in the Inland region (and maybe even Southern California). And we believe it's worth enhancing and preserving. What do you think?

(Note: The city is currently conducting outreach meetings with interest groups and the general public. As part of the outreach, the city is providing residents and stakeholders the ability to comment via the Downtown Library Rehabilitation Survey. Read the questions and then submit your responses. We urge anyone interested to spend a few minutes to complete the three-question survey.)

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* Riverside Public Library

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





The presidential streets of Riverside

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Beginning near Arlington Avenue in Riverside and stretching eight miles southwest along Magnolia Avenue into the Home Gardens community near Corona, 17 streets placed at half-mile intervals honor the nation's first presidents.

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2012
Numero Uno

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2012
Intersecting presidents

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2012
Monroe Park neighborhood

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1954-55
From Washington to Buchanan
(Pre Riverside (91) Freeway)

Laid out in 1876 by the Riverside Land & Irrigation Company, the streets -- with one notable exception and two later changes -- were named in the order of presidential office, starting with Washington and ending with Grant (who was president at the time).

The most notable exception is the slight re-ordering of the first five streets. Laid out as Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Adams and Monroe, the order of Adams and Madison had been swapped. It's likely that the need to use the Adams name again as street number six (for John Quincy Adams) caused the swap, resulting in a single Adams Street at position four equally honoring John Adams (our second president) and John Quincy Adams (our sixth president).

Continuing past Monroe from Jackson Street southwest to Grant Street in Home Gardens, the remaining 12 are in order with two more exceptions -- Taylor and Johnson streets. Local historian Steve Lech indicates that (Andrew) Johnson Street was renamed McKinley Street, likely to honor McKinley who was assassinated in 1901. And sometime after 1955, Taylor Street was renamed La Sierra Avenue.

Though we haven't been able to confirm why Taylor Street was changed to La Sierra Avenue, three possible reasons emerge. First, it aligned the street under a single name (Holden Avenue and Taylor Street were in use north and south of Magnolia Avenue respectively). Second, it gave the growing La Sierra area a more prominent identifier. Third, the 1957 opening of the Riverside (91) Freeway may have created confusion with having both Taylor and Tyler as consecutive freeway exits.

In addition to the original presidential streets along Magnolia Avenue, there are several other streets in Riverside that also use the names of presidents. And although some of these also intersect with Magnolia, they do not match up with the original order. These include Garfield, Cleveland and Lincoln (not to be confused with another Lincoln Street near Corona), Hayes, Taft, Roosevelt, Coolidge, Kennedy, Nixon, Harding and McKinley (not to be confused with the other McKinley Street in Corona).

One other street -- Hoover Street -- is also present. However, the late historian Tom Patterson indicates it may have been named after a property owner. Also, a small neighborhood along Washington Street just southeast of Magnolia Avenue contains streets related to Washington: Mt. Vernon, Potomac, and Delaware.

Regardless of the minor changes and later ancillary additions, the original presidential streets remain an interesting trait of Riverside.

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Public Library, "Along The Old Roads" (Steve Lech), "A Colony For California" (Tom Patterson)





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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





3900 Market Street - White Park Building

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1926
Newly-built Potter Hotel
(Courtesy of Peter Weber)


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c.1926
Potter Hotel postcard

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2008
White Park Building

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2010
Architectural details

Above is a 1926 photo of the then newly-built Potter Hotel located on the southeast corner of Market Street at Ninth Street in downtown Riverside.

The photo comes to us courtesy of Peter Weber, son of Peter J. Weber who was the chief designer for the Riverside architectural firm of G. Stanley Wilson. Both Weber and Wilson played a role in many of Riverside's significant buildings of the early- to mid-1900s, including portions of the Mission Inn. (We have a few other photos graciously supplied to us by Weber that we hope to spotlight in the coming months.)

Built by Sidney E. Potter of Stahlman and Potter Construction Company, the Potter Hotel was one of several similarly-sized hotels built in downtown during the early 1900s. Its architecture appears to be a mixture of Spanish and Italian Renaissance with a hint of Beaux Arts thrown in for good measure. An excerpt from the book "Riverside in Vintage Postcards," states "it is more like a home than a hotel ... every room [has] a bath, fine light, and ventilation." And indeed, as the postcard to the right suggests, "Air Cooled" was a big selling point for the hotel.

Over the years, the building also housed various businesses, beginning with the Citrus Belt Building and Loan Association in 1926 (which may have been an early forerunner to Citrus Belt Savings & Loan). And according to the 1955-56 Criss-Cross directory for Riverside, the building had already been renamed as the White Park Building. Tenants at the time included Watts-Laivell General Insurance and attorneys S. Thomas Bucciarelli, Rex Estudillo (3900 Market), L.B. Mathis Realtor (3910 Market), Fox Beauty Salon (3930 Market), Potter Hotel (3940 Market), David Miller Realtor (3942 Market), First Thrift of California (3944 Market) and Fairman & Company Brokers (3946 Market).

By 1967, the building's southern portion had been replaced with a small parking lot (we're uncertain as to when and unclear as to why). Today, the remaining building is still known as White Park Building with Riverside Mission Florist as its primary (and longtime) tenant.

Sources: Riverside Public Library, "Riverside in Vintage Postcards" (Steve Lech), "Riverside - Then & Now" (Glenn Edward Freeman), 1955-56 Criss-Cross City Directory





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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.

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





Photo pool spotlight - 12/23/2011

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Flickr - Raincross Square photo pool

Got a great photo of downtown Riverside or the city in general? Add it to the Raincross Square photo pool. Or view what others have uploaded.





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2011
Hunter Hobby Park


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2011
New station

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2011
Arriving passengers

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2011
Riding the rails

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2011
New playground

Saturday morning marked the public reopening of Riverside's Hunter Hobby Park following nearly $7 million in renovations for one of the city's most unique parks. The reopening also means the public is once again invited to "ride the rails" with the Riverside Live Steamers.

Along with a new (and relocated) train station, the completely refurbished park includes two new lighted ballfields, basketball courts, children's playground, grassy knolls and walking paths, restroom facilities and expanded parking. We especially liked the train station fencing and the installation of two refurbished neon signs that were saved from the Magnolia Avenue railroad underpass project.

Located in northeast Riverside, the 40-acre park began life in the late 1950s as an adjunct "backyard" of sorts to local engineer -- and steam train enthusiast -- Joseph L. Hunter, who laid track down for a personal, small gauge steam engine. The track, which was initially 4,300 feet in length, soon began attracting other train enthusiasts.

Joseph and his brother Edwin started Hunter Engineering. The company was a pioneer of several key, industry-leading patents in the manufacturing of aluminum products (and is now part of worldwide Hunter-Douglas).

Following Joseph's death in 1965, the the park was donated to the city of Riverside, which set up a partnership with local train enthusiasts. Formed in 1966, this all-volunteer group -- Riverside Live Steamers -- immediately began operating, maintaining and expanding the facilities.

Today, with over 10,000 feet of track with several switchable configurations, the club includes both private- and city-owned, 7 1/2 gauge (1/8-sized) engines, with the overriding requirement being "steam-only." The club provides free rides on the 2nd and 4th Sundays each month.

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Sources: Riverside Live Steamers, The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside





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