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Front St.Datebook Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
The Old Village Green
Clovis has that small town spirit
where people walk their dogs at night.
Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

      CLOVIS -- With its quiet, tree-lined streets and meticulously restored 19th-century Old Town shops, Clovis, Calif. with a burgeoning population of 70,000 should have preserved a charming piece of California's past.
     In the bookstores, antique dealers, cozy restaurants, card-room, barber shops and nail parlors along Pollasky and Clovis Avenues, residents of historic Clovis are greeted on a first-name basis. At Christmas time, neighbors gather on the main street to sing carols and celebrate the lighting of the trees and to watch the Children's electric parade.
Candy Creations' gumball machine     Just as travelers on the old John C. Fremont Trail relied upon tried and true landmarks to guide them, so it is today. In a recent case of note, Shirley Redman of Candy Creations factory on Third St. told the Free Press, "Our old fashioned gumball machine on the sidewalk in front of the store is a well-known landmark for our customers!" Ms. Redman, continued, "One of our customers couldn't find our store one day last week when we pulled it inside to refill it."
     Most shoppers in Old Town Clovis are like that. Its a popular joke that it takes a couple hours sometimes to find the candy shop when that gum ball machine is on the fritz.
     The Old Town merchants help smooth over those kind of problems. Its a nonprofit community group devoted to preserving the facade of the original 1880's village environment. It likes the gum ball machine but makes sure the neighborhood's sidewalks are clear of litter, plants, flowers in the corner medians and maintains the street trees, which are pruned and fertilized by a crew of volunteers.
     But Clovis, Calif. is an urban village like few others. This slice of genteel affluence, bounded roughly by Bullard and First Streets and Harvard and Clovis Avenues, is home to the Big Dry Creek Museum, the San Joaquin Law College, and The Clovis Free Press office just steps away from the Mercedes Edwards Memorial Theatre. Its village green is the Fourteen-Mile Old Town Trail park. On mornings and evenings it is filled with joggers.
     And Clovis is a safe place to be. The Clovis Police Dept. told reporters this week that there is currently one police officer for every 850 people here. Clovis officials point with pride to the lowest crime rate for a city of its size anywhere in California.
     Its a nice place for small animals, as well. The Clovis Animal Shelter records show that it placed 1150 dog and cats with families this year. No wonder Clovis has nearly 100 acres of park land, 50 acres of recreational areas, and, 70 acres of new parks on the drawing board.
     Indoor recreational space is also primo in Clovis. The City's Recreation Center provides for year round physical fitness programs for persons of all ages. Activities like soccer, tennis, basketball, roller hockey are housed in an enormous 20,000 square foot sports arena.
     This upscale 1900's village has 200 miles of roadways, 266 miles of water mains, 218 miles of sewer mains and recycles over 9,000 gallons of oil and 16,000 tons of grease, waste paper, plastic and aluminum annually.
     The City Council's General Plan update includes the following statement on Clovis community values. It is a city committed to, "... Clovis community family, their needs,their values, an a quality life for all, reflecting that commitment in how it develops and in the activities it undertakes."
     According to Mayor Harry Armstrong, and City Council members, Clovis has been able to accomplish these legendary fetes on a meager City Budget of $115.2 billion in the 1999-2000 fiscal year.
     When the Clovis Cole Hotel building went up at Clovis & Fifth Street, many residents were concerned. Though the proposed building is just a mid-rise and no higher than adjacent Old Town structures on the Clovis a block in either direction, some residents said that the new building will destroy the character of the surrounding Old Town. That talk soon subsided as the new hotel gained immediate popular as a favorite local watering hole.
     With average prices for apartments and town houses rocketing well past the hundred thousand mark, Clovis is one of Fresno County's most expansive communities, according to local real estate valuation and sales records.
     In the last 10 years, many of the storefronts on Pollasky Street have been taken over by upscale restaurants, artists, photographers, boutiques, candy stores, and collectibles. Although the neighborhood has largely avoided the flood of chain stores that have moved into other parts of neighboring commercial areas.
     Public schools serving Clovis are highly regarded as top flight. It is justified by test scores. With kindergarten through the fifth grade where 98 percent are reading school materials at or above grade level.
     Despite its air of stately elegance, urban realities do impinge on the neighborhood, and Clovis churches and synagogues sponsor volunteer programs for the needy.
     In the 17th century, the rocky heights above the area now known as Clovis, to the North East direction, there was the large village site of the Four-Creek Indian village. In the early 19th century, as gold miners and settlers moved in, the Indians were driven out, and a small village called Tollhouse was established along the old Indian trail which led deep into the Sierra primeval forests. But much of the land that is now Clovis remained unsettled late into the 1890's.
     According to Official records of the Fresno County Supervisors from the year 1891, "The Fresno Indians were exterminated by disease and wars." Intrepid Guide and frontiersman, Kit Carson, wrote in 1829 about the Clovis region in his diary, "...There were two large flourishing tribes."
     There was no official enumeration of the Native Americans until 1833. By that time their numbers had greatly decreased by relentless was waged against themselves and from the ravages of cholera. The disease nearly wiped-out all Native American villages in the San Joaquin Valley.
     By 1850, the few Indian tribes which remained had their strongholds in the remote reaches of the Sierra high-country mountains well above the Clovis area.
     In architectural drawings published together with The Historical Atlas Map of Fresno County in 1891, depict details of some of the earliest residences of the greater Clovis area and the founders of Clovis whose estates now the site of Old Town Clovis.
     The neighborhood acquired its name, and its cachet, when Andrew Carnegie built a Public Library for the people of Clovis at the corner of Third Street and Pollasky venue. The frame, brick and limestone structure was completed in 1902. It is now the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
     Carnegie's arrival made the neighborhood one of the most sought-after in Clovis. Many of the original houses remain today, part of the historic district that covers, roughly, the center and western half of of Clovis Old Town.

Original Pencil Sketch made in 1891 by C.M.Cole
Residence & Ranch of Clovis Cole, Big
Dry Creek area of Clovis Calif., 1891.

Letter to the Editor

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