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.
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
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.
Residence & Ranch of Clovis Cole, Big
Dry Creek area of Clovis Calif., 1891.
Letter to the Editor
©2000 Clovis Free Press. All rights reserved.