Fresno Hotel

Seven stories tall, a gorgeous historic building.

The renovation of the historic Hotel Fresno has plans to transform this building into a mixed-use development. While maintaining many aspects of its original splendor, the Hotel Fresno project planned to boast high-end restaurant facilities, retail and office space, and residential units. That was the vision.

Last Remaining fresco inside

The future of the Hotel Fresno is again facing uncertainty. According to the owner, Baghgegian, they were ready to go. “We had our bank financing, the whole nine yards,” Baghgegian said. The loan was revoked, and other banks have been unwilling to provide money in the current economy. “Every time we take a step, it’s two steps backward” said Baghgegian. Meanwhile, the developers moved onto the circa-1917 Mayflower recently finished, but they haven’t given up on Hotel Fresno. Baghgegian said a FHA loan is close to reality for the renovation, which could cost up to $14 million. In spite of these delays, Baghgegian and his development group commitment to restoring and reusing the old Fresno Hotel, remains strong. They are currently negotiating with the city for a small loan of RDA funds to get started. The Mayor and many residents seem to support the idea.

On our next Urban Art walking adventure we check out some of Fresno’s oldest buildings; inside. Consider coming along Sat, Oct 1st from 10-12n as we explore the art of Fulton Mall, inside old buildings of the city’s core and even some great food tastes too!
Advance tickets at Brown Paper Tickets, $25pp
If you wait to purchase day of $30pp or 559.392.4471


Another one bites the dust

In the midst of the depression the Firestone Tire Company opened a service station on the corner of Fulton and Stanislaus styling their building in Streamline Moderne; Similar to art deco but with less frills or ornamentation. This property is the earliest use of style for commercial purposes in Fresno. Art deco and then Streamline Moderne was popular in the 20-40’s and began in Paris, France. The style commonly has many lines, curves instead of corners. Sleek and smooth are hallmarks.
Consider the architectural integrity of the Firestone building in light of other buildings in Fresno. Roadside architecture and gas stations we far more thought out than today’s utilitarian boring places. Although it is noted the property is in very bad shape because it has not been taken care of, some people want to save the building and were working with the city and planners on how best to do so.

Alas, today I rounded the corner as I headed to work and I was astonished! Its gone.

The City Of Fresno recommended to the Historic Preservation Commission the old Firestone building be listed on the local register of historic resources. The Fresno City Council Redevelopment Agency, felt it would be better as an empty lot. Guess they won.

One Family’s Roots

In the fields of the Central Valley, the DeAlba family has grown and laid their roots. Coming from Mexico to Stockton, CA; Mom, Dad and their 10 children worked hard providing food for others tables while maintaining a strong family bond. Sons and daughters grew up and left the fields to work at local restaurants from the bottom up. It was around the family table discussion ensued over what those restaurants were serving and how much better mom’s food was. Over time and much talk an idea formed; use mom’s recipes and start their own restaurant.
By now many of the sons and daughters were living in Fresno so it was decided everyone would move there and work together to make the restaurant a success. It is this family bond that sets Los Panchos apart…. and mom’s great recipes! Los Panchos uses the freshest ingredients for the great food offered at affordable prices.
Stop by for a meal and you, too, will see how good it is as well as get to know a family who has made a successful life here in the valley. Ramon and his family welcome you to Los Panchos with plenty of room for your next event, great food and a homelike atmosphere.
They also give back.
As a way to say thank you to fellow fieldworkers, Los Panchos takes a complete meal to the fields for one lucky group on a regular basis. All they need do is register their group of workers for the drawing and the winning group gets a complete lunch brought to them, gratis.

The DeAlba family is also committed to Fresno’s downtown. They own several buildings on the Fulton Mall offering diverse services:
• Jalisco Jewelers
• Los Panchos restaurant
• DeAlba Travel
“Each of the businesses are owned by family members” shares Raul who owns Jalisco Jewelers. “My sister owns the travel agency next door and my brother and his family own Los Panchos”. This commitment to downtown also extends to local revitalization efforts as Raul serves on the Fulton Specific Plan working to revitalize the downtown core. “I really think this time we may see it happen” said Raul. “We’ve tried many other times with studies and plans, but this time it feels different”. We sit looking across to the Bank of Italy building, and the mall in general, in its sorry state. One can only hope he is right.
About Town Taste joins Raul in working to bring life back to Fresno’s Fulton Mall, and the downtown core, by connecting people with the fabulous art & architecture while stopping by Los Panchos for some of their delicious food from mom’s recipes on our walking adventure. Will you think of joining us on the next adventure of the Fulton Mall May 7th @10a? Advance reservations are needed via info@AboutTownTaste or 559.392.4471

Restoration from the remains of controversy: Tarpey Depot

The fiasco of the old San Joaquin Valley Railroad that began construction on July 4, 1891 and ended 1892 with a failed dream, in many ways began Clovis. In the late nineteenth century several embarrassing revelations generated evidence for those who believed that the Southern Pacific Railroad had corrupted state and local politics.

David Colton served as the manager of the railroad’s political interests in California. Following Colton’s death in 1878, his widow sued the big four RR for cheating her out of part of her inheritance. At the trial Mrs. Colton introduced hundreds of letters and other documents signed by her late husband with railroad officials. The letters brought to light the conspiracies of railroad executives to influence elections and votes in the state legislature.
Collis Huntington and Leland Stanford feuded in the early 1890s when Huntington publicly denounced Stanford for using large amounts of railroad money to secure Stanford’s election as a senator. Stanford’s private secretary later published a series of letters that implicated him in the corruption by the railroad.

The San Joaquin Valley Railroad suspected conspiracies captivated people throughout the state to the turn of the century.
Built in part to replace the Fresno Flume Irrigation Company’s log flume, the railroad had great promise for the area. Starting at a site now under Shaver Dam, the flume traveled 42 miles into the valley ending at the Clovis Lumber Co. Today, the old lumber company site is home to the Clovis Rodeo Grounds and Clark Intermediate School. The flume and lumber company shutdown in 1914, but Clovis kept on growing.

Part of the old failed San Joaquin railroad, were several outbuildings. When the railroad died Clovis Cole managed to keep some of them but over the years they fell into disrepair. Clovis Historical Society refurbished the only remaining depot of three buildings saved by Clovis Cole.Now located at Clovis Ave. and 4th Streets, the Tarpey Depot re opened to the public August. 1, 2000 following extensive historic restoration.
About Town Taste walking adventures steps back in time on its Antiques & Art tour this Saturday 4/16 at 10a. We’ll visit the old depot and so much more, as we walk through Clovis enjoying the art, antiques and tasty bites in the charming old town area. Advance reservations needed via info@AboutTownTaste or 559.392.4471 just $25pp including the food!

Perseverance Becomes…

When Amadeo Giannini found established banks unwilling to take on his or farmers business he opened his own calling it The Bank of Italy in 1904 with $8700 in assets. Established to serve working class citizens, especially Italians living in the North Beach neighborhood, Giannini was adamant about helping establish local businesses.

Surviving the earthquake and fire of 1906, Giannini‘s Bank of Italy was one of the first to offer loans to businesses to help rebuild the city. Forced to run his bank from a plank across two barrels in the street for a time, Giannini made loans on a handshake to anyone who was interested in rebuilding. Years later, he would recount with pride that every single loan was repaid. Amadeo Giannini and the “Bank of Italy” were also the basis for the classic Capra movie American Madness. By 1909 The Bank of Italy began opening branches in other cities, an unheard of practice then. By 1918 there were 24 branches across California. It grew by this branch banking strategy to become the Bank of America, the world’s largest commercial bank with assets in the billions.
Bank of Italy’s are known for their striking architecture and ornate interiors of exquisite marble. Fresno is privileged to have one of those original 24 branches, all be it in desperate condition today. Even so, About Town Taste adventures check it out inside out. Dirt and dust reveal a hidden gem of beauty that sits awaiting the right person with the means to bring life to the old girl once again. Our next visit to the Fulton Mall with its world-class art and the Bank of Italy will be Saturday morning 4/2/11 @ 10a. Why not join us for an adventure of food, fun and history? Only $25pp inclusive. You need to contact the office to reserve so our restaurants can be prepared! or 559.392.4471