We will be enforcing COVID protocols during the tour. Details.
Fresno City College, California’s first community college, was established in 1910 ultimately changing education in California. The campus was originally located at the former Fresno High School campus on “O” Street. In 1921 Fresno Junior College combined with the then Fresno Normal School, later Fresno State College and currently California State University, Fresno, to operate the junior college on the same campus as the four-year school. Fresno Junior College continued to grant associate degrees and offer a two-year curriculum, but its campus and staff were identical with those of the normal school.
In 1948 new laws permitted local school districts to operate junior colleges, and Fresno City College returned to the “O” Street campus, which it shared with Fresno Technical High School. By 1950 the technical high school program had been phased out and the district began looking for another campus. The junior college district completed negotiations for the purchase of the University Avenue site from Fresno State College. By 1956 Fresno City College had moved to University Avenue.
When the California State University system added FSC to its rolls in 1946 and acquired the land for its current location on Shaw Avenue and Cedar Street, the “old campus” was given to the newly re-organized community college system. Fresno Junior College moved onto this campus in 1947 from the downtown Fresno site which it occupied since 1910. The name was changed to Fresno City College on May 11, 1958.
The Administration building is the original classroom building of the former Fresno State College now called California State University, Fresno. The building was part of the FSC campus which consisted of this classroom building, the library, McLane Hall, and several technical shop buildings. This building and the library building are on the Federal List of Historical Buildings. The Old Administration Building is built of solid brick with tapestry face brick. The roof covering is mission clay tile. Among its decorative features are handmade hard-burned bricks, classic ornamentation at the main and secondary entrances, classic brick arches and stone balconies overlooking central courtyards, and lavish Moorish geometric details in brick on the east and west walls of the auditorium and above the arches of the covered walks around the perimeter of the courts.
In 1916 State Architect George McDougall noted that the sunny California climate was largely responsible for the remarkable open-air features of the administration building’s courtyards. He had decided “to use brick and stone in warm shades and of a style reminiscent of the Renaissance architectures built with these materials in Northern Italy and Spain.” While modern requirements necessitated “a free translation of these styles,” he nevertheless introduced themes “recalling Spanish woodturning and Lombard brickwork.” McDougall concluded that “we think the building of the Fresno Normal School is a distinct step in the advancement of school architecture in this state.”
In 1974, the OAB was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it closed only two years later due to new seismic regulations. The renovation brought the facility back to its original glory, hiding virtually all structural work behind original or replicated interior finishes. The hand-crafted Roman brick was cleaned and original materials, such as the clay roof tiles, decorative wood eaves, and wood windows, were restored. The interiors were also refurbished keeping the original layout in more than 90% of the structure.
This building as well as the FCC library are representations of the architectural uniqueness of our neighborhood. If you have time, stop by the library and take a look but remember that classes are in session and students will be working. These buildings serve as a reminder that buildings of the past can continue to be both functional and beautiful.
For this year’s tour, the FCC City singers will be performing in the Old Admin theatre from 6:30-7:00 pm. The Fresno High Choir will perform from 5:30-6:15 and from 7:15-8:00.
Adapted from the FCC website.