Downtown Fresno Walking Tour
This walking tour includes stops at historic mansions, downtown landmarks, historical markers, and museums.
This historic auditorium was part of the Great Depression-era construction projects and opened to the public following a dedication ceremony on December 31, 1936. The Art Deco structure holds many works of art in addition to an auditorium and the Veterans Memorial Museum. Staffed by volunteers, the museum offers a variety of exhibits drawn from its collection of artifacts and memorabilia. The museum's purpose is to display uniforms, equipment, and preserve the history of American military conflicts from the perspective of veterans. The museum can be visited free of charge and is funded in part by the city of Fresno.
This historic water tower was in operation from 1894 to 1963 and now serves as the home of the city's visitor center. The history of the structure dates back to 1891, when the city commissioned Chicago architect George Washington Maher to design a new water tower for the city of Fresno. His design was influenced by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, a famous and destructive event that destroyed the Chicago Public Library but not the Chicago Water Tower. Recalling that the water tower in Chicago acted as a temporary library, Maher's original design called for a library and a third floor to be built within the tower. Construction finished in November 1894 but Maher's vision of housing a library in the tower was never realized. The water tower remained in use until 1963 when its pumping equipment had become inadequate.
Twining Laboratories was founded in 1898 by Frederick Twining. The building itself was designed by Charles E. Butner in a style with Mediterranean influences. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Brix mansion was built for Herman and Helena Brix in 1910-1911. It is the only pure Italian villa in Fresno and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grand Victorian home on R Street was built in 1889 by Tennessee transplant Dr. Thomas Richard Meux. In addition to operating a medical practice, Meux and his brother also owned vineyards in the area and were involved in various agricultural pursuits. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the early 1900s, Fresno was one of several California cities with a thriving Basque community. The Santa Fe Hotel was built in 1913 to serve the Basque community. The building is now occupied by a restaurant, the Shepherd's Inn, which serves Basque fare. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, currently houses a restaurant, the Shepherd's Inn, which served Basque cuisine.
Built in 1912, the Maubridge Building is the oldest remaining substantial apartment building. At the time it was built, the building was considered one of the city's most prestigious addresses. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Fresno County Hall of Records was built in 1936 by the Public Works Administration, a New Deal program. The building is considered a fine example of Deco Moderne architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Liberty Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in Fresno. The theater was built in 1917, and has changed names and owners several times over the twentieth century. In recent years, the building has been home to the Spanish Evangelical Church.
This luxury hotel opened in December, 1923. The Hotel Californian was renowned for providing the finest accommodations in central California. In fact, the hotel itself became a symbol for the potential of the booming city of Fresno with its symmetrical towers, open courtyard, and grand interior. Guests were particularly impressed by modern features such as central air conditioning. The hotel's opulent ballrooms hosted the premiere social and political events of Fresno in the booming 1920s.
Built in 1918, this eight-story building is renowned for its ornate terra cotta and brick. It was originally home to the Bank of Italy, the same bank that later became the Bank of America. The interior lobby reflects California's booming economy during the early 20th century. Visitors would have been awed by the grand entrance and its marble floors and staircases as well as the twenty-five-foot tall ceiling finished with decorative plaster. The elevator doors were finished with etched brass and the stairs were made of solid mahogany.
For five months in 1910 and 1911, the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies as they were often known, were a presence in Fresno as they tried to recruit Fresno workers for the union. Led by Frank Little, the Wobblies often gathered on the corner of I and Mariposa. Today, a California Historic Landmarks plaque marks the location.
Warnors Theatre is an historic theater in downtown Fresno, California. The two thousand seat venue opened in 1928 as the Pantages Theater, after the name of its then owner, Alexander Pantages, and later, the Warner Theater in 1929 after it was purchased by Warner Brothers. The name was changed again in the 1960s to "Warnors" to avoid trademark issues. The theater was designed by B. Marcus Priteca, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This museum was established in 1984 and was located in the historic Fresno Bee Building prior to its closing in 2010 after it could not meet loan payments after an extensive and expensive restoration project that was completed two years prior. The museum remains closed as a result of its financial difficulties.