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«City 01 ~srr?rlirrea~$I& rmE-aa%%Ap Develooinent and Ilesource Management Deeartrnent 2600 Fresno Street, Third Floor Historic Preservation ...»

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City 01



Develooinent and Ilesource Management Deeartrnent

2600 Fresno Street, Third Floor

Historic Preservation

Commission Agenda (Revised 6.20)





Commission Members

City Managerllnterim Planning Director







Historic Preservation Project Manager


WILL TACKETT, Supervising Planner The Historic Preservation Commission welcomes you to this meeting.

June 24,2013 MONDAY 5:30 p.m.

City Hall, Second Floor, CONFERENCE ROOM A, 2600 FRESNO STREET




A. Approve Minutes of May 20, 2013.

Ill. APPROVE AGENDA Historic Preservation Commission Agenda Page 2 June 24,2013






A. Consideration of Approval of Request by the Property Owner(s) to Designate The "Calwa Rocket" Located at 4545 E. Church Avenue as a Heritage Property and Adoption of Findings Necessary to Support the Designation, Pursuant to FMC 12-1612 (ACTION ITEM).

Recommendation: Designate the "Calwa Rocket" as a Heritage Property.

B. Annual Election of Commission Chair and Vice Chair (ACTION ITEM).


Consider Change in Start Time of Historic Preservation Commission Meetings from 5:30 A.

P.M. to 6:00 P.M.

B. Receive Update on Status and Disposition of Bob Wills' Triple B Ranch (APN: 310-040-99) Located on the Northwest Corner of E. Clinton and N. Armstrong.


A. Members of the Commission

6. Staff 1. "Keeping Time VI," Preservation Conference, Sonora, California June 21, 2013.

2. Workshop: "Federal Tax Credits and the California Historical Building Code," Tuesday, June ~ 51:30-4:00 PM.

'~~ C. General Public IX. NEXT REGULAR MEETING: July 22,2013.



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Staff recommends that the Commission designate the "Calwa Rocket" located in the Calwa Park, 4545 E Church Avenue as a Heritage Property pursuant to FMC 12-1612.


The property owners (board members and staff for the Calwa Recreation Park District) have requested that the fantasy play structure, the "Calwa Rocket," located in the park at 4545 E. Church Avenue be considered for designation as a heritage property pursuant to FMC 12-1612. The working-class community of Calwa, named from the California Wine Association founded nearby in 1896, was platted in 1913 adjacent to the Santa Fe Railroad corridor. The railroad donated land for a community park in the mid-1950s following the death of a child who was playing in one of the area's commercial buildings.

Calwa Park was opened on March 8, 1958. The 26 foot tall structure was located in the park circa 1962 and is a ubiquitous symbol of America's fascination with space exploration during this era. The rocket was apparently the only one of its kind in Fresno and attracted children and families from all over the area.

A two-story slide was removed from the structure circa 1971, due to liability and insurance concerns. The interior of the rocket is no longer accessible for play, but the structure still stands in the park as an affectionate symbol of an earlier time. Park staff and boosters hope to restore the rocket's original paint scheme this summer.

The Calwa Rocket appears "worthy of preservation" as a Heritage Property under Fresno's Historic Preservation Ordinance.


Fresno's Historic Preservation Ordinance identifies several possible strategies and categories for listing a property on the Local Register of Historic Resources: individually as a historic resource, designation of multiple properties as a local historic district, and individual listing as a "heritage property." "Heritage Property" is defined in the Historic Preservation Ordinance as a "resource which is worthy of preservation because of its historical, architectural or aesthetic merit but which is not proposed for and is not designated as a Historic Resource..." (FMC 12-1603(n)).

The Heritage Property category was established for resources that have historic merit but which may have problems with integrity (such as the Josiah Royce Hall) or which may be a contributor to a proposed historic district but which lack significance as an individual resource. Listing through this program of the Ordinance allows use of the California Historical Building Code and a measure of protection. Unlike the historic resource protocol, heritage properties may only be nominated by the owner or an authorized


Staff Report for the Calwa Rocket June 24,2013 Page 2 agent of the owner. A listing of a heritage property may also be rescinded more easily by the owner (FMC 12-1612(d). There is no requirement to publish a public notice in a local newspaper and the nomination is not automatically forwarded to the City Council for consideration. Additionally, there is no age, significance or integrity requirements for this designation.

Staff recommends that the Commission make a finding designating The Calwa Rocket as a lieritage Property.

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PI. Resource Name: The Calwa Rocket *P2. Location: *a. County: Fresno 'b. USGS 7.5' Quad: Malaga c. Address: 4545 E. Church Avenue, Fresno d. Assessor's Parcel Number: 480-011-036T 'P3a. Description: The "Calwa Rocket" is a playground structure located northwest of the community center within Calwa Park. It is 26 feet in height, elliptical in shape and constructed of metal, with 1 inch wide flat metal strips bolted to the frame. A center pole provides the major load bearing for the structure and pierces through the four round play platforms, which are color coded: the lowest two are red, the third yellow and the top most platform is blue and is 7 feet wide. Metal stairs within the rocket are offset and provide access to each play area. Four pre-fabricated metal "fins" provide additional support. The rocket is set within a packed dirt circle which is 19.5 feet across and edged with a concrete curb. Originally the rocket included a slide which was removed in 1970 or 71 due to liability and insurance concerns. The rocket is now sealed and the interior cannot be accessed. Calwa Park includes both active and passive play areas including a submarine play structure, traditional swings (perhaps the last in the Fresno area), a contemporary children's play area, picnic tables, soccer and baseball fields, and a wall for graffiti artists.

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*PI 1. Report Citation: "Evaluation of the Calwa Rocket as a Heritage Property, City of Fresno!' 'Attachments: Building, Structure and Object Report;.Continuation Sheet

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The Calwa Rocket is a traditional "Moon Rockel' play structure that was once prevalent and popular on American playgrounds in the 1960s and 1970s. The rocket is located within Calwa Park, which opened on March 8, 1958 on land donated by the Santa Fe Railroad. The community of Calwa was established in 1913 between the Santa Fe railroad tracks, Jensen, Vine and Cedar Avenues. The town name was derived from the nearby California Wine Association, which was the largest winery and distillery in California when it was constructed in 1896. Most early residents were railroad workers, although other industries in this tight-knit community included Germain's seed plant, Producer's Cotton Oil Company and Ranchers Cotton Oil Products Plant (Rehart et al:35; Centennial Almanac:87).

Apparently the impetus to establish a community park occurred when a child suffocated in the early 1950s while playing on the tarps that covered the corn husks inside one of the cotton oil company buildings (Gary Richardson, personal communication 30 April 2013).

A philosophy of play in child development is credited to Frederick Froebel, who founded the first kindergarten (garden for children) in Germany in 1837. Froebels' work was later expanded by American psychologists and educators including John Dewey and G. Stanley Hall. The first playground in the United States opened in Washington Park, Chicago in 1876. The first "model playground" (with modern equipment) was established in 1894 at Jane Addams' Hull House, Chicago. Modern playgrounds were developed in most of the large American cities in the 1890s (Frost).

Fresno's Public Playground Department was developed in 1908, with Dickey Playground, West Side Park, California Park, and Holmes Playgrounds established in 1910 (Clough 1986:442 and Building records, City of Fresno).

*B12. References: Joe Frost, "Evolution of American Playgrounds," (University of Texas at Austin, Texas); Tony Lembke, "Great Playgroundswe have been injured in" 17 June 2011; J ~ l t ~ : / ~ l e r n l i n k. c m. a ~

-- mounds we h a v e - b e e n - l n i (accessed 22 May 2011); Rehart et al, Celebratina the Journev: 150 Years of ~ Fresno Countv and Bevond, 2007; Fresno Countv Centennial Almanac, April 1956; personal interviews with Jana Keeley, Barbara Vierira, Paul H. Garcia and Gary Richardson, 10 May 2013; e-mail correspondence with Gary Richardson 31 May 2013; personal communication, Rosie Flores 6 June 2013;

Amanda Erickson, 'The Politics of Playgrounds, a History" 14 March 2012; Garrison Frost, "Rocket ships and swings," Aesthetic 6 June 2007.

'814. Evaluator: Karana Hattersley-Drayton, M.A.

'Date of Evaluation: June 18,2013

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The Depression and World War II stopped the rapid advancement of the playground movement although the WPA did build playgrounds, as well as schools, hospitals and airports. From the 1950s to 1970s "novelty playgrounds" were popular with imaginative or fantasy play structures, including rockets. These were mostly fixed and resistant to change or movement and occasionally were more appealing to adults than to children (Frost).

During the 1960s and 70s moon rockets were launched from playgrounds all over the United States and were exported as well to Australia. At least two companies patented structures similar to the Calwa Rocket, the Jamison Manufacturing Company, Los Angeles and the Miracle Equipment Company of Grinnell, Iowa. Rockets were ubiquitous throughout Los Angeles playgrounds, 'Wey were everywhere" recalled one blogger, nostalgically. "I wonder if the proliferation of rockets around the South Bay's playgrounds was some kind of nod to the area's aerospace industry... ?'(Garrison Frost, "Rocket ships and swings").

The rocket structure in Calwa dates to circa 1962, according to adults who lived, played andlor worked at the park (Richardson 31 May 2013). The submarine climbing structure and traditional swing set (possibly the only one left in Fresno) were probably added at the same time. The rocket's two-story slide was removed around 1971 due to insurance and liability concerns (Personal communication, Barbara Vierira 10 May 2013). Playground injuries, and thus litigation, led to safety standards set up in the 1980s by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. By 2000, four states including California had passed laws about playground design. The concern for child safety has led to a backlash of sorts with many wondering whether "safe" playgrounds with lower structures and softer ground, are also boring places which do not stimulate a child's imagination (Erickson 2012). Numerous personal blogs lament the passing of these older "dangerous" playgrounds with their killer swings, round-abouts and rocket slides. Unfortunately outdoor play in general is also something of a bygone era: "children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist's list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom" (Joe Frost: 11). A 2010 report by the Kaiser Foundation noted the development of "cyber playgrounds".

Gaming, social networking, and texting now occupy 7 hours each day for older children (Ibid).

Nostalgia partially explains the extraordinary affection which the Calwa community has for its rocket, which reportedly was the only one in a Fresno park. "Folks from other areas wanted to come to Calwa to play on the rocket" (Rosie Flores, 6 June 2013). The structure is approximately 50 years of age, and other than the removal of the slide, remains unchanged from the time it was installed circa 1962. Park staff continually are asked by residents, "Is the rocket still there?" The Calwa Rocket is a beloved symbol of the community and therefore appears to meet the definition of a Heritage Property, as "a resource which is worthy of preservation because of its historical, architectural or aesthetic merit..!' (FMC 12-1603(n)).

–  –  –


TIM J. BRANDT, AIA, LEED AP i s the Senior Restoration Architect for the California State Office of Historic Preservation. Tim has a MArch from the University of Pennsylvania and a BArch from the University of Southern California. His prior work has included reviews of the Bradbury Building, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Fox Studios.

SCOTT VINCENT, PRESERVATION ARCHITECT, has a BS in Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and also attended the professional development program in historic preservation at USC.

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