Preserving Places
Produced by Tim Robinson

 

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 recognized…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.



INTERVIEWS:

Elizabeth Lemar
O

James Henley
Currator, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center

James Sargent
Former Usher at Visalia Fox Theater

Jimmy Yee
Principal of Lincoln School

Paula Boghosian
Interim Director of Historic Preservation

Rami Cherami
Di


TRANSCRIPT:

The complete text of New Valley Episode 204 - Lost and Found...

 

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