Clovis Way of Life: Preserving Old Buildings and Sites in Clovis

The Clovis Carnegie Library, located on 325 Pollasky in the heart of Old Town Clovis, was built in 1914. Today, it is the office of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. (Clovis Museum)

Clovis is known for its rich history and maintaining the buildings and sites that make Clovis unique. 

When you walk through Old Town, you feel like nothing has changed since the 1930s and you are still able to see buildings restored and community members prospering– that is what comes to mind when many think of the Clovis Way of Life. 

Classic Clovis sites are popular not only because of the amount of time that they have been in Clovis, but because of the way they still are recognized and appreciated hundreds of years later. Those sites include: 

  • The trail that was the original railroad line through Clovis
  • The Statues that are on the trail from Shaw Avenue to Sierra Avenue
  • The sign across Clovis Avenue between 4th and 5th Street “Clovis Gateway to the Sierras”
  • The Clovis Rodeo Grounds: 748 Rodeo Dr, Clovis, CA
  • The Water Tower on 4th Street and Veterans Parkway
  • The “Stones” / “All Class Stones” at Clovis Veterans Memorial Square: 808 4th St, Clovis, CA 
  • The Clovis – Big Dry Creek Museum: 401 Pollasky Ave, Clovis, CA
  • Cecil Cox American Legion Post 147 
  • The San Joaquin College of Law: 901 5th St, Clovis, CA
  • Crossover Church of God: 434 5th St, Clovis, CA
  • Clovis Carnegie Library, now the Clovis Chamber of Commerce: 325 Pollasky Ave, Clovis, CA    
  • The Clovis Veterans Memorial Building: 808 4th St, Clovis, CA 
  • The Tarpey Depot: 99 Clovis Avenue, Clovis, CA
  • The J.E. Good Building: 454 Clovis Ave, Clovis, CA                                  

Notable buildings and sites to mention are The Clovis – Big Dry Creek Museum which was formally the First State Bank Building and Clovis Court. 

The Crossover Church of God which was the original Clovis Methodist Church. The first church in Clovis was a pioneer church founded 1893. 

The Carnegie Library of Clovis was built in 1914. That same year a $7,000 Carnegie grant funded the library built at 325 Pollasky Avenue. It became an extended classroom and added to the education of the people of Clovis. Today, it is office of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.

Students from the country came to town to check out books because most elementary schools in the outlying areas did not have libraries. The Carnegie grant was for the building, and the community was required to provide the building site, pay staff and maintain the library. The funds had to be public and provide ten percent of the construction to support its operation and provide free service to all. 

The San Joaquin College of Law is the original Clovis High School building affectionately known to many CHS Alumni as “The Main Building.” When the City of Clovis was prepared to tear it down, the San Joaquin College of Law came to the rescue and saved this historic building that was built in 1920. 

 The Clovis Veterans Memorial Square was dedicated in November of 1996 by the Clovis Veterans Memorial District and the City of Clovis.

“The Stones” has historic value to the people and families of those who attended Clovis High School from 1902 – 1969.     

The people who lead Clovis play a major role in making the Clovis Way of Life filled with preservation for the buildings and sites that have deep rooted history. 

Chad McCollum is the Public Affairs and Information Manager and shared the importance of preserving the history of Clovis. 

“Most people agree that culture should be preserved and honored. Food, art, dance, and even traditional clothing are a connection to our past. They’re a way to remember where we came from and how our past shaped the way we live today. The buildings in Old Town, and the stories associated with each one, are a way to discover, remember, and celebrate the culture of Clovis.” 

Shawn Miller, Business Development Manager for the City of Clovis shared two stand out buildings and sites.

“The John Good Building was built on the northwest corner of Clovis Avenue and Fifth Street in 1900. For the past 122 years, the bottom floor has served as the location for general merchandise retailers and, later, antique dealers. On the second story, one can find a variety of small offices, manicurists, and hairdressers. But those offices originally served as apartments, which are the basis for many tall tales and quirky stories. The people who lived there were colorful people with colorful nicknames such as Tall Paul and Fat Jimmy. Most of the stories involve alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. There’s even a story that details the murder of one of the residents. The anecdotes illustrate a different time and place, when Clovis was a rough and tumble western town driven by the lumber industry.  

Salsa’s Cantina is located at 410 Clovis Avenue. Everyone loves going there for lunch or dinner, but not everyone knows that the building is the oldest in Clovis. It dates back to the early 1890s, when there were no paved streets, no cars, and when the City of Clovis wasn’t even a city. For many years, the brick structure was used as a bar and, sometimes, gambling hall. It used to have a basement and many stories have been passed down from generation to generation about the various uses of that underground room. These legends include it being a hiding place for Chinese immigrants during the Tong Wars (1900-1930), and a speakeasy during prohibition. Regardless of what’s real and what’s a fun yarn to pass on, when the current owner of the building was restoring it in 2010, he found brass poker chips, and drink tokens emblazoned with “O.K. Saloon, 1896,” as well as a blue and white porcelain sign which listed the “Clovis Cardroom Rules,” describing the standardized rules for playing poker in Clovis, California.

Interestingly, the rough-cut tabletops at Kuppa Joy are made from the original floorboards from 410 Clovis Avenue. In the southwest corner of the coffee shop, there’s a table nestled up to the window which bears the marks of a century-old shotgun blast that tells the story of just how rowdy Clovis could get,” said Miller. 

When it comes to preserving old buildings and sites in Clovis, many turn to the City Council and Chamber for direction, responsibility, and accountability to ensure proper actions are attended to.  

Peg Bos was the first woman to be elected to the Clovis City Council, the first woman to serve as mayor, the first woman to serve on the planning commission and the first woman to receive the Citizen of the Year award from the Clovis Hall of Fame. 

“My life has been enriched by living in Clovis because of the Clovis Way of life,” Bos said. “I want to thank the members of the Chamber for their promoting and maintaining the Clovis Way of Life.” 

A long time Clovis family who chooses to be kept anonymously spoke on the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. They said, “Sometimes out with the old and in with the new isn’t that great. But how lucky we are in Clovis to have a chance to make sure this historical building continues to be part of our future so we can keep history alive for future generations.” 

Preserving old buildings and sites in the city of Clovis is what keeps the Clovis Way of Life the motto that many proud citizens live by each and every day. 

Brooke is a senior at Fresno State double majoring in Communication and Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. Brooke is a senior at Fresno State double majoring in Communication and Media, Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. Brooke has a passion for storytelling and community. Brooke has experience in print news working for Oakdale Leader and The Collegian, as well as broadcast news by doing Fresno State Focus TV. She is also a student member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and takes part in the Youth Advisory Council for ABC30. Brooke is currently focusing on multimedia journalism for the remainder of her time at Fresno State, before graduation in May 2022.