Category: Mid-Century
A look at local modern architecture spanning mostly from 1950 to 1970
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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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@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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@1980
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


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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

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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)


3333 Arlington Avenue - Gemco / Target

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@1975
3333 Arlington Avenue
(Courtesy of Daniel Balboa / Riverside Fire Dept.)


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@1970
Gemco advertisement
(Courtesy of Gemco-Memco)

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A typical late 1960s / early 1970s
Gemco storefront
(Courtesy of Gemco-Memco)

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@2010
3333 Arlington Avenue
(Google Maps)

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Sept. 2011
3333 Arlington Avenue

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Nov. 2011
3333 Arlington Avenue

Currently undergoing an extensive remodel, 3333 Arlington Avenue is one of three Riverside locations for retail giant Target.

City permits indicate the building was originally built in 1970 for Gemco membership department stores. The value for the original 99,200 square-foot building was listed as $950,000. The architect was listed as Maxwell & Starkman Associates and the contractor as Ernest W. Hahn (who also built Riverside's original Tyler Mall).

A 4,365 square-foot gas station valued at $40,000 was also permitted in 1970. Located at the western edge of the property next to McMahon Street, the address for the station was listed as 3335/7 Arlington Avenue. A city permit was issued in 1995 to demolish the station. (The site is now used for parking.)

City permits indicate the adjacent retail strip -- Arlington Square -- on the eastern edge of the Arlington Avenue property was built in 1977.

Established in Anaheim in 1959, Gemco was acquired by Lucky (grocery) Stores in 1962, which expanded the chain throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and into Houston, Texas. The company also opened stores under the Memco banner in the Washington D.C. and Chicago areas.

In October 1986, Lucky Stores closed its Gemco division, selling 54 of the chain's 80 stores to Dayton-Hudson (Target Corp.). In 1987, Dayton-Hudson used the acquisition of the former Gemco stores -- including the Arlington Avenue building -- to expand its Target chain.

The Arlington Avenue Target was the second Riverside location for the Minneapolis-based chain. The first, located at 3520 Tyler Street, opened in 1983 (along with its then sister store, Mervyn's) in the former Treasury discount store building. The third location -- a newly constructed building located at 2755 Canyon Springs Parkway -- opened in 2003.

In 1979, a second Gemco location in Riverside opened at 10471 Magnolia Avenue near Tyler Street. A smaller attached building housed various other businesses, including a Nautilus Health Club and an Army-Navy-Air Force recruitment office.

After Gemco closed the Magnolia Avenue store, the main building was divided up for use as a Lucky's grocery store and Kids R Us clothing store. More recently, it had remained mostly vacant. A demolition permit was issued in 2008 and, excepting the parking lot and a small strip center at the western edge, the lot remains empty (one | two).

Nov. 2011 Update: Remodeling work has finished at the Arlington Avenue store. Besides the addition of a "Fresh Grocery" section, the store has been completely updated and reconfigured. And judging by these swanky ceiling lamps, someone at Target obviously understands the importance of design aesthetics. Also new is a Starbucks Coffee cafe area. View an updated photo gallery.


Related


Sources: City of Riverside, Los Angeles Times, WikiPedia, Groceteria.com


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.

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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


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March 2011
499 Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Chase Bank (originally Coachella Valley Savings & Loan #3)


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1960
Coachella Valley Savings & Loan
Palm Springs

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1963
Central Library
Riverside

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2011
303 Building
San Bernardino

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2011
Provident Bank
Redlands

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2011
Riverside

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2011
Wesley United Methodist Church
Riverside

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2011
Rivera Library
UC Riverside

A recent trip to Palm Springs reminded us of that city's sizable collection of mid-century modern architecture, including the former Coachella Valley Savings & Loan building pictured above. Designed by E. Stewart Williams, the building is an excellent example of modern bank design from the 1960s.

We'll explore some of these desert gems at a later date. But the two-day visit also reminded us of a number of modern gems closer to home as well, a few of which we will share now.

The building that probably best resembles the style of the one pictured above is Riverside's main library (aka, Central Library). Located on Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside, the building's striking appearance stands out among its Spanish-influenced neighbors. As such, it has suffered from harsh criticism through most of its existence. And though better appreciated these days by younger generations, the structure is currently in danger of being demolished to make way for what's expected to be a new library building. (For what it's worth, we actually admire the current library building.)

As with the Coachella Valley Savings & Loan, the Riverside library's "floating" walkway, large overhang, symmetrical "screens" and rigid, box-like appearance are all trademarks of mid-century modern architecture. Both buildings are in the vein of the New Formalism style of modern architecture, which was popular for public, institutional and financial buildings during the 1960s.

Elsewhere, one of the Inland region's best mid-century office buildings can be found in downtown San Bernardino. Built for the State of California in 1966, the 303 Building housed state offices for over 30 years until a new building opened a few blocks away in 1998.

In 2007, after sitting vacant for several years, the building reopened following a $25 million renovation by the County of San Bernardino. The refurbishment included removal of asbestos and lead paint, but the building's exterior retained its mid-century designs, including the slender vertical screens.

Another local gem is Provident Bank in downtown Redlands. Designed by Riverside architect Clinton Marr, the building's tall, rigid walls project strength and security -- an architectural trait sought by banks during the mid-century era. Its undulating, rippled roofline adds a futuristic touch to the structure.

Though certainly not as prevalent as in Palm Springs, the local region does have its fair share of modern residences, with the majority of these found in Redlands and Riverside.

The region also has a number of mid-century churches, including the fanciful chapel at Wesley United Methodist Church located on Arlington Avenue in Riverside. Another Clinton Marr design, the 1959/60 hat-box looking chapel was built using "a thin shell form finished in gunited concrete."

Finally, one of the best collections of local modern architecture can be found at UC Riverside, where several buildings were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s. Of particular interest are the Rivera Library, Olmsted Hall and University Theater buildings, each unified via the use of an archway motif.

Also noteworthy at UCR is the 161-foot-tall Carillon Tower. Designed by the firm of A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons -- one of America's best-known modern architectural firms -- the 48-bell carillon was officially dedicated in October 1966.

We hope to explore these and others modern gems in more detail in the coming months. As usual, be sure to use the comment section to tell us of your own favorite modern building(s) scattered about Inland Southern California (particularly those hidden gems we may not know about).

Photos: (coming soon)

Sources: UC Riverside, Clinton Marr & Associates (1964 booklet), The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside


3521 Central Avenue - Jack in the Box

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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue, Riverside


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2010
3521 Central Avenue
(Google Maps)

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1951
Jack in the Box, San Diego
(Jack in the Box, Inc.)

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1950s
Jack in the Box, Mark I
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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1960s
Jack in the Box, Mark II
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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1960s
Jack in the Box, Mark III
(ModernSanDiego.com)

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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue

Dating from the late 1960s, one of the oldest Jack in the Box fast food restaurants in Riverside is no more. Though certainly not a structure worthy of historic merit, we thought we'd take this opportunity to look back at the whimsical designs of the original Jack in the Box (JITB) restaurants.

According to the company's website, the first JITB was opened by Robert Oscar Peterson in San Diego in 1951. An outgrowth of Peterson's earlier "drive-in" diners called Topsy's and later Oscar's, JITB is said to have pioneered the use of drive-thru service using an intercom ordering system. (Those who lived in Southern California prior to 1980, may remember placing orders at JITB via a "talking clown.")

By 1966, the chain had grown to 180 locations, mostly in California and the Southwestern U.S. In 1968, Peterson -- whose Foodmaker, Inc. ran the restaurants -- sold the chain to Ralston Purina Co., who remained the owner until 1985.

It was during Ralston Purina's ownership in which "Jack" -- the clown atop the drive-thru menus -- was "blown up" as part of an extensive television campaign in 1980. The makeover was an effort to broaden the chain's appeal with adults. In 1994, after several years in isolation, "Jack" returned as the chain's spokesperson during the "Jack's back" advertising campaign, a role he retains to this day.

Back to the two oldest Riverside locations. The city's planning database indicates permits for 3521 Central Avenue (near the Riverside Plaza) and 3434 Fourteenth Street (downtown) were issued in 1968. According to the permits, both locations were two stories in height with 1175 and 1776 square feet respectively (though they look to be the same size) and a value of $24,000 each.

The architect listed on the permit for the downtown location (and presumably, the Plaza location as well) is Donald D. Goertz. A quick search of the Internet found an American Institute of Architects (AIA) entry for Donald Dean Goertz, who's also listed in the AIA's archives as being a staff architect for Foodmaker, Inc. beginning in 1967.

Based upon what we've found, the earlier JITBs offered both walk-up and drive-thru service, but no interior dining. The exterior designs used bright colors and fonts popular during the 1950s and 1960s to emphasize the drive-thru and overall "box" aspect of the JITB name. A San Diego website specializing in mid-century architecture lists Russell Forester as the architect for these early designs.

We're not clear on whether the two Riverside locations built in 1968 sported these original whimsical designs. It's likely they didn't, primarily due to the different architects used. However, it's possible they may have sported at least some form of the earlier designs -- particularly that of the Mark III concept -- as their current "mansard" look conforms to that found on many early SoCal JITB locations since remodeled (Chula Vista, San Clemente, San Diego). Maybe someone can confirm what the original designs for the two Riverside locations were like?

As for the Central Avenue location, we were unable to confirm that a new JITB will replace the now-demolished structure. However, the demolition permit seems to indicate a new JITB is indeed on its way. Browsing the company's website, we found what appears to be the latest prototype (notice the use of "Santee" indicating the restaurant's location -- could this be a future JITB motif?).

Update 04/16: Construction of a new JITB is well underway.

Update 08/06: The new JITB reopened in late July.

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Change in logo
(Jack in the Box)
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Old school
menu*


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March 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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April 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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May 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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May 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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June 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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June 2011
3521 Central Avenue


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July 2011
3521 Central Avenue
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July 2011
3521 Central Avenue


* Courtesy of www.burningsettlerscabin.com

Sources: Jack in the Box Inc., City of Riverside, ModernSanDiego.com, Wikipedia, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Los Angeles Times


William Lee Gates - 3770 Elizabeth Street

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R.P. Small Building
3770 Elizabeth Street, Riverside
(William Lee Gates)


Tucked away on a side street off Magnolia Avenue near the Riverside Plaza is the R.P. Small Building, a stylish, mid-century modern building designed by local Riverside architect William Lee Gates. City permits from 1956 show Russell E. Walling as the contractor with an estimated value of $40,000.

A quick web search on William Lee Gates finds he was born in 1926 in Portland, Oregon. According to a December 2002 obit in The Press-Enterprise newspaper, Gates served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and Korea. He received his M.A. in Architecture from UC Berkeley in 1952 before running his own practice in Riverside until retiring in 1975. After 29 years in Riverside, he relocated back to Portland in 1986.

Gates designed all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, educational and governmental. Among his works locally are the Victoria United Presbyterian Church, 6833 Brockton Avenue and Riverside fire stations #3 (1962), #4 (1962), #7 (1967). He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.) from 1956-1988.

Until recently, one of the Small Building's primary tenants was Salon Siner. According to their Facebook page, Salon Siner had been in the Wall Building since 1964. The salon relocated around the corner at 6056 Magnolia Avenue in early 2010.

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2008
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2008
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2008

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, American Institute of Architects, City of Riverside, William Lee Gates - A.I.A. (1964 booklet)


University Avenue: TraveLodge

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As mentioned before, Eighth Street -- now University Avenue -- in Riverside's eastside was once the city's "motel row." In many ways, with several motels, hotels and eateries remaining, it still serves that purpose today.

One of the earliest major chain motels to pop up on the stretch between downtown and UC Riverside was the Riverside TraveLodge. Located at 1911 Eighth Street (University Avenue), city permits indicate the motel likely opened in late 1951 or early 1952. Aerial photos from 1948 confirm the hotel was not present.

pc-riv-1950s-motel-004a-A-800.jpg
@1952
Riverside TraveLodge

pc-riv-1950s-motel-005a-A-800.jpg
@1957
Riverside TraveLodge
with expansion, pool

pc-riv-1960s-motel-003a-A-800.jpg
@1965
Riverside TraveLodge
with 'Sleepy Bear' motif

riv-2010c-university-1911-001a-800.jpg
2010
Budget Inn
with pool removed

To the right are 3 postcards from the 1950s and 1960s showing the TraveLodge. The back of the first postcard reads:

Riverside's Newest and Finest Close In Motor Hotel. 24 De-Luxe units. Beauty-rest beds, tile baths, wall-to-wall carpets.

In 1953/54, city permits were issued for an expansion that appears to have nearly doubled the number of rooms. And in 1955, a permit was issued for a swimming pool. Aerial photos indicate both the expansion and pool were in place by 1959. The second postcard -- from the mid- to late-1950s -- which shows the added rooms and pool, reads as follows:

Riverside's largest and finest close-in motor hotel. Heated pool, radio, TV and phone in rooms. Wall to wall carpeting. Tiled showers with Hollywood glass doors -- Beauty Rest beds -- refrigerated air -- kitchenettes. AAA approved.

The last postcard, which has a 1966 postmark on the back, shows new signage and the addition of TraveLodge's "Sleepy Bear" mascot to the motel's exterior. It also appears the previously pinkish-hued motel received a lighter shade of paint but with brightly painted doors added for accent. The back of this card reads:

Heated Pool -- New TVs -- Radio & Phone in Rooms -- REDECORATED! -- Beauty Rest beds, Kitchenettes, Air-Conditioned

Today, the former TraveLodge is known as the Budget Inn. We're not sure when the TraveLodge name was removed from the motel, but seem to recall it lasting into the early 1990s. However, a 1993 chamber publication lists the hotel simply as Riverside Motel while a 1996 permit to demo the pool (1965 | 2010) was issued under the current Budget Inn nameplate.

Related

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library


pc-riv-1950s-motel-003a-A-600.jpg
1950s
Town & Country

pc-riv-1960s-motel-004a-A-600.jpg
1960s
Sage & Sand

pc-riv-1960s-motel-007a-A-600.jpg
1960s
Caravan Inn

riv-2010c-university-1510-002-600.jpg
2010
Courtyard by Marriott

Prior to the building of the 60 Freeway through Riverside in the early 1960s, the main highway heading into downtown from the east was Eighth Street. Visitors traveling between Palm Springs and Los Angeles could grab some rest at any one of the half-dozen or so small, roadside motels scattered along a two-mile stretch between UC Riverside and downtown. As such, Eighth Street -- now University Avenue -- became the city's "motel row."

With its proximity to the city's early industrial areas, UC Riverside, March AFB and the now defunct Riverside International Raceway, the accumulation of motels, hotels and restaurants grew considerably during the 1960s and 1970s as national chains the likes of Ramada Inn and Holiday Inn began popping up. And by the 1990s, larger hotels, such as Days Inn (now Courtyard by Marriott), had sprung up as well.

However, as in many cities across the nation, when the newer and larger hotels arrived, the smaller motels began decaying, eventually leading to seedier surroundings. Likewise, the 1987 opening of downtown's 12-story Sheraton (now Marriott), the closing of Riverside International Raceway in 1989 and the 1993 reopening of downtown's historic Mission Inn dealt a tough blow to even the larger hotels. By the mid-1990s, control of the former Ramada and Holiday inns would be assumed by UC Riverside, which uses the adjacent properties for offices, classrooms and exchange student housing.

Since 2000, however, Riverside has invested millions of dollars in implementing the University Avenue specific plan that included refurbishing and/or phasing out the older, seedier motels and adding landscaping to the curb and street medians. More recently, several of the decaying motels have been demolished. A large, mixed-use apartment complex for UCR students replaced one, a retail center replaced another, while a few others have become empty lots awaiting redevelopment.

Over the ensuing months, we hope to spotlight a few of these motels and hotels and maybe even a couple of the eateries, some of which no longer exist. For now, below are a few photos from the three mid-century neon signs that remain from "motel row's" past.


riv-2010c-university-1393-005-400.jpg
2010
Farm House
riv-2010c-university-2140-005-400.jpg
2010
Skylark
riv-2010c-university-2711-006a-400.jpg
2010
Thunderbird
riv-2010c-university-2711-008ac-600.jpg
2010
Thunderbird
riv-2009c-university-2711-009-400.jpg
2009
Thunderbird


Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library


Pecuiliar post-war commercial add-ons

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Scattered around downtown Riverside one will find a few remaining commercial "add-on" oddities from the post-war years. Here are two of the more obvious ones we've noticed.

riv-2010c-dt-10th-3833-002c-900.jpg riv-2010c-dt-10th-3833-003-900.jpg
2010
Tenth Street

First up is this house located on Tenth Street. We're not sure of the original home's date, but city permits show an addition valued at approximately $5,000 was built around 1947. Though the permits do not indicate what it was used for, they do indicate the expansion was permitted as a "business" addition.

It's readily apparent the 1947 addition did not make any real attempt to complement the Cape-Cod style motif of the original structure, but a recent makeover does help it blend in better.

__________

riv-2010c-dt-main-4353-001-900.jpg riv-2010c-dt-main-4353-002-900.jpg
2010
Main Street

Next up is this house located at the south end of Main Street. City permits show minor alterations taking place on portions of the house in 1947 for use as a "cafe." Later, in 1955/56, a permit was issued for a front addition valued at approximately $11,000. The permit indicates "store" as the intended use for the expansion (though we presume it could have easily been an expansion for the cafe as well).

Although the addition's roof line offers subtle reference to the home's traditional architecture, the flagstone and basic cinder block construction adds a bit of mid-century flair (unintended as it may have been at the time).

__________

Today, design codes are simply too strict to allow such non-conforming additions. And as much as they tend to ruin the architectural motif of the original structure, there's no doubt seeing these "grand-fathered" oddities does add a bit of interest and character to what might otherwise be a monotonous streetscape. It's also one aspect that make parts of Southern California's older established cities -- such as Riverside, Redlands, Fullerton and Pasadena -- a bit more unique than newer master-planned cities and neighborhoods.


Wall Street Journal plant closes

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After nearly 50 years of printing the Southern California edition of the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Co. has shuttered its Riverside printing facility. Along with the WSJ, the facility has also printed the regional editions of Barron's Weekly and, more recently, the New York Post.

riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-032-600.jpg
2009
Signage

riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-001a-600.jpg
2009
Entrance

map-2009-ms-riv-jurupa-6900-001-975.jpg
2009
Overview
Bing Maps

The Riverside operation is one of several regional printing facilities recently closed by Dow Jones & Co. as part of restructuring due to decreased print demand and the signing of printing contracts with local newspapers. Other plants shuttered include those in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Orlando, and Des Moines, IA. Locally, it appears the Los Angeles Times has taken over printing of the regional edition of the WSJ.

The Riverside plant began operations in 1961/62. City permits issued in the summer of 1961 show the building comprising 29,542 sq. ft. with an approximate value of $440,000. Its location atop a small hill near Riverside Municipal Airport helped the plant keep a relatively low profile, with many residents vaguely aware of its existence.

At one point, Dow Jones -- which became part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. media empire in 2007 -- held a minority interest in the Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper. In 1996, however, Dow Jones sold its 21.5% stake in The Press-Enterprise to Dallas-based Belo Corp., which eventually bought the regional newspaper from its longtime owners, the Hays family, in 1997.

No word yet on what is to become of the
well-manicured Riverside WSJ facility and surrounding land, both of which are reportedly owned by Dow Jones. However, the plant's closing is likely to be felt at Riverside-based Wall's Hauling. The small, family-owned business has delivered the Wall Street Journal -- its largest client -- throughout Southern California since the Riverside facility opened.

Related

riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-015-600.jpg
2009
Sleek lines
riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-016a-400.jpg
2009
Chic ashtray
riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-002c-400.jpg
2009
Landscaping
riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-014a-600.jpg
2009
Parking


riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-018ac-600.jpg
2009
Trucking docks
riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-019-600.jpg
2009
Rail spur
riv-2009c-jurupa-6900-023a-600.jpg
2009
Rail dock

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, City of Riverside


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