Named by Time
Magazine as America's most integrated city, Sacramento owes that distinction
in no small part to a small school. Much of Sacramento's identity was
forged in the middle of the last century, at the Lincoln School.
It was an extraordinary
example of racial and cultural diversity that, obviously, continues
today. Lincoln students like city councilman Jimmy Yee, and long-time
Sacramento florist Al Balshor can only reminisce about Lincoln School.
Today, it exists only as a memory...because it was torn down.
Mr. Balshor says
that physical place, the Lincoln School, helped to create part of the
city's sense of self. Many people that graduated from there went on
to higher things, that was their foothold. Clearly, this was a case
of a building that helped to shape a community's collective consciousness.
For many, Lincoln
School is a connection to their past and has assisted in developing
their self identity. Identity that can be forged not just by the more
obvious candidates like schools
but also by a place built for fun.
In addition to Lincoln
School, the Alhambra Theatre, built in 1927, was primarily a marvelous
spot to see a movie. But now, it is only a fountain flicker where those
grand lights of Hollywood films once were. But in 1974, by a vote of
the people, the Alhambra was torn down and replaced with a grocery store.
Although the destruction
of the Alhambra Theatre is devastating to many, positive insight has
been gained. In a sense, it has galvanized the preservation movement
in Sacrameto. So that preservationist spirit shows that the Alhambra
-- a building that no longer exists -- altered the way we see and, perhaps,
value buildings of the past.
The Alhambra was
a hard lesson learned in this part of the Valley. But in Visalia, the
townsfolk avoided taking the same path Sacramento did. You can see the
proof, etched with pride on a downtown sidewalk. These are the names
of the people who followed Rami Cherami's (Ray-me Share-uh-me) lead.
They -- the people of Visalia -- got together to save and restore their
old movie palace, The Visalia Fox Theatre.
The Visalia Fox
Theater certainly is grand. The detailed plaster interior work and the
delicately restored, hand-painted décor. The stars shimmering
from the ceiling. And that balcony
a place known well by John
Morgan, the former usher of the theatre.
And everybody in
the community worked hard to save the Fox from an uncertain future.
Saving a part of "themselves" meant that the citizens of Visalia
donated some one-and-a-half million donated dollars. However, for citizens
like Rami Cherami there is no price tag that you can place on the granduer
and memories of the Visallia Theatre.
But it's not just
older architecture that makes a mark. Consider a very modern structure
in Sacramento. The SMUD building's clean lines and somewhat minimalist
approach hearken to a very modern style that laid the foundation for
more recent buildings, like the downtown federal building.
Whether it's nationally
or simply an indelible part of our human landscape,
buildings -- both present and past -- have made us who we are and who
we will be.