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Public Properties — Commercial Properties —Residential Properties—Saved Properties—Lost Properties

Riverside’s Most Endangered Historic Properties

One of the main things that sets Riverside apart in the region is its distinctive architectural heritage, evolved from over a century of growth and change. From the opulent landmarks of the once-wealthy citrus empire to the mid-century monuments of a growing metropolis, Riverside has an enduring sense of place for all to appreciate. Continued growth and change underscores the health of any community; however, we must strive to preserve and protect the authentic spaces of our past so that future generations will understand who we are and where we came from.

The historic buildings in this list are all threatened with demolition or severe alterations that will destroy their historic character. Sadly, some of the buildings featured here in the past are now destroyed. Please take a moment to review and reflect on what you can do to help save our City’s past for the future.

The Mission Inn Historic District

With a boundary that covers most of historic downtown Riverside, this national Register-eligible historic District contains the majority of the city’s most important historic landmarks, including the Mission Inn, the Fox Theatre, the Museum, and the County Courthouse. Recent demolitions of district contributors (the Hess Showroom and Garage and the Press Bindery Building) and uncertain fate of others (the Mission Inn Annex, the Westbrook-Imperial hardware Building, and the Stalder Building) are jeopardizing the integrity of historic downtown. While the big landmarks are not under direct threat, their historic neighbors are important to a vibrant and authentic downtown.

Public Properties

The Mission Inn Annex (6th Street between Main and Orange Streets)
Originally a dormitory for Inn employees, the Mission Inn Annex is a critical component of the city’s National Historic Landmarks hotel. It is an important part of the story, has distinctive architectural character in its own right, and has a physical connection to the hotel via a pedestrian bridge. It currently sits vacant and neglected, exposed to the elements and vulnerable to destruction. The City is considering razing or rehabilitating the building to create a conferencing facility associated with the nearby convention center. We must push for rehabilitation or see this irreplaceable part of our most important historic landmark vanish forever.
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Marcy Library (3711 Central Avenue)
This whimsical wheel-shaped library building was designed by notable local architect Herman Ruhnau and constructed in 1958. It is considered eligible for the National Register for its delightful Mid-Century Modern design. Left vacant this year when the Library moved to bigger quarters on Magnolia, the City has agreed to sell the property to a local restaurant for reuse. While a suitable reuse may be possible, restaurants are notoriously hard on historic buildings and significant changes may need to happen in order to accommodate this new use. ORF intends to monitor the process closely.

Riverside Downtown Main Branch Library (3581 Mission Inn Avenue)

Identified in the City’s Modernism survey as eligible for the National Register as a good example of New Formalism architecture, the Downtown Main Branch Library interior is considered inadequate to the needs of the City. The public has been presented with five options to renovate the building, but the various options fail to reflect local values and desires. The process lacks cohesion with the separate private process that’s already underway to address the village green in front of the Main Library. This divided process diminishes the ability to thoughtfully plan for outdoor and indoor library programs. The process needs to be re-tooled to be open and comprehensive, and in a manner that respects the overwhelming consensus in the community. Only by that unified approach will the best and greatest possible outcome be produced.

Fire Station No. 1 (Central Fire Station) (southeast corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Lime)
This fire station was built in 1957 and is listed in the California Register as one of the few International Style buildings in Riverside. Though the City has a new downtown fire station under construction, they no longer have any immediate plans to demolish the old fire station. Potential reuse as a modern art museum is promising, but no solid plans for reuse have emerged yet, leaving the fire station vulnerable to demolition.

Commercial Properties


The Westbrook-Imperial Hardware Building (3750 Main Street)
Originally two brick buildings built early in the 1900’s, they were unified and a new Art Deco-style façade was added after a fire in 1935. In 2001, current State Historic Preservation Officer Wayne Donaldson created a reuse plan that won glowing praise in the City’s award-winning Downtown Specific Plan. In spite of this demonstrated compatible reuse, the City is preparing an EIR for a speculative project that would demolish this Main Street landmark.

The Farmhouse Motel (1393 University Avenue)
This sweet auto-court motel looks like it belongs on Route 66 more than University Avenue, until you recall that University was once part of highway 60/395. It still has one of a few remaining neon signs and an endearing California Ranch exterior. Now vacant, the City and UCR are interested in seeing the property redeveloped (or possibly rehabilitated) for student housing. There is an opportunity here to lead the charge for a creative reuse of the Motel that meets the needs of the neighborhood.

The Stalder Building (northeast corner of market Street and Mission Inn Avenue)
The Stalder Building is a part of the Seventh Street Historic District, the Mission Inn Historic District, and is also City landmark No. 7. In 1926, noted Inland Empire architect G. Stanley Wilson designed a new Mission/Moorish style façade to unify three older buildings. Demolition was evaluated under a certified EIR for the Fox Plaza project. The City has expressed interest in retaining the front portion, depth uncertain, as part of an office/parking garage. With demise of redevelopment funds, the future of this building is uncertain.


The Press-Enterprise Building (3512 Fourteenth Street)
Built in 1954-1955, the Press-Enterprise building is one of the earliest examples of modern architecture built in Riverside. It retains excellent integrity and anchors a modern-style corridor on Fourteenth Street between Lime and Market Streets. The building has been vacant since 2008, and its future looks grim unless a compatible reuse surfaces.


Residential Properties

Trujillo Adobe (northwest corner of Center and North Orange Street)
The only extant remnant of the community of Agua Mansa, the Trujillo adobe has been allowed to deteriorate over the last 30 years. Currently it sits boarded up and inaccessible, with no plans for renovation/restoration. This adobe has remained in this condition despite pleas from residents and descendants for restorative help.

McIntyre House (4586 Olivewood) and Sweatt House (4587 Mulberry)
The William J. McIntyre house is City Landmark #72, and named for its first owner. This Victorian gem was designed and built in 1892 by contractor and master carpenter D. J. McLeod. The William and Nettie Sweat house was built in 1891 and is another fine example of Queen Anne style architecture. It is one of the few remaining examples of the work of early Riverside designer A. W. Boggs, and the only remaining example of the collaborative work of Boggs and local contractor Henry A. Westbrook. These houses were previously thought to have been saved because of a City plan to relocate them to a newly cleared area at Fairmount and Third Streets in Riverside. However, they are now again in need of saving due to the dismantling of the City Redevelopment program.



Saved Properties

Saved — 2012: The Citrus Bank Belt Savings and Loan Building (3855 Market Street)
This is a 1930 Art Deco bank building designed by Stiles O. Clements, famed Los Angeles architect and designer of the Wiltern theater in L. A. It is one of the very few Churrigueresque (Spanish Baroque) buildings in Riverside. The original façade was covered for fifty years under a mid-century modern curtain wall, and uncertainty over what remained underneath nearly consigned this hidden gem to the wrecking ball. In 2011, Riverside Community College District tore down the old curtain wall and revealed the stunning exterior to the world once more. RCCD has now beautifully restored the old bank and in 2012, opened it as the new Mine Okubo center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties.
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RCC Cutter Pool and Pool house (North end of the RCC Campus)
Named for Riverside fruit grower and philanthropist James Cutter, this fine example of Mid-Century Modern architecture was built in 1957. ORF considered it vulnerable to demolition due to the adjacent construction of the new aquatic center. However, Riverside Community College District decided to keep the old pool and pool house for practice and recreational swimming.
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Lost Properties

The Hess Auto Showroom and Garage (Market Street between 6th Street and Mission Inn Avenue)
Mostly demolished by the City of Riverside to make way for a parking structure, only a remnant of the original façade remains to be part of an arcade. Located adjacent to the Fox theater on Market Street, this unique Moorish style building was built in 1924. Designed by Henry Jekel, alterations to the southern portion in 1949 made it look like two buildings. As part of the façade retention, the City will recreate the look of the altered southern portion. It had been determined eligible for listing on the National Register and was a contributor to the Mission Inn Historic District.
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The Press Bindery Building (3650 Fairmount)
This building was demolished by the City of Riverside, contrary to conditions of approval to retain the entire Spanish Colonial Revival-style front section, and reuse it as part of a black box theater. Like the Hess Auto showroom, only a thin façade remains. This 1926 building was designed by prominent architect Henry Jekel. It had been determined eligible for listing on the National Register and was a contributor to the Mission Inn Historic District.
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The Hotel Plaza (3801 Market Street, at the southwest corner of Market Street and University Avenue)
This building was demolished by Riverside Community College District to make way for a Culinary Arts and Administration Center. ORF was active throughout the EIR process and collected architectural salvage prior to demolition. Originating as the three-story Glenwood Cottage in 1884, this building became the Holyrood Hotel in the 1890’s. In the early 1920’s the structure was completely remodeled and “modernized” as the Hotel Plaza.
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