This article is based on a “walking tour” of historic locations in Old Town that I wrote during the 90th year celebration (2002) of the incorporation of the City of Clovis. It has been revised and published by the City of Clovis many times. It is available at the Tarpey Depot Tourism Center.
Tarpey Depot: 1891, NE corner of Clovis Ave. & 4th. It was originally built at the SE corner of Ashland & Clovis Ave by the San Joaquin Valley Railroad (Marcus Pollasky). The Clovis-Big Dry Historical Society, supervised by Fred and Susie Osterberg, relocated to Clovis in 1998.
The First State Bank: 1912, SE corner of Pollasky and 4th. It was built by Richard Norrish who moved to Clovis in 1904 and founded our first bank in a boarding house directly east on 4th. It was declared a Fresno County Historical building in 1987. The Clovis Museum (opened in 1986) is at that location.
Carnegie Library: 1914, 325 Pollasky. It was one of the 1,689 libraries built by Andrew Carnegie in the US. It is the only Carnegie library remaining in Fresno County. It was declared a Fresno County Historical building in 1967. The Clovis Chamber of Commerce took occupancy of the building in 1980 and in 2018 received legal title to the building from the City of Clovis. The Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society has formed a “Save the 1914 Clovis Carnegie” to ensure the historical library is not demolished.
Hoblitt Hotel: 1902, NW corner of Pollasky & 4th. Joshua Hoblitt built the three- story hotel. Fire destroyed the top floor (my Grandfather Harry Whiton was Fire Chief) in 1927. Numerous businesses have located there. Dr. Lose converted it to a sanitarium in 1942.
American Legion, Cecil Cox Post #147: 1924, SE corner of Woodworth & 4th. It was named to honor the first Clovis man killed in action during WW I. Cecil Cox died on June 7, 1918 in the battle of the Marne, Belleu Woods, France. The basement of the building was dug by the WPA (Works in Progress Administration) that was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935.
Gibson Store: 1907, NW corner of Pollasky & 5th. In 1898, Lewis Gibson and his partner J.J. Hutchison built a small general merchandise store (wooden structure). Gibson became the sole owner and in 1907 built the existing brick building. Lewis was elected the first President (Mayor) of the Board of Trustees (City Council) when Clovis was incorporated in 1912. He was instrumental in making Clovis a “dry city” (no fire water).
Webster Building: 1904, NE corner of Pollasky & 5th. Edward Webster built a two-story brick building. The lower floor business, upper living quarters. Fire destroyed the top floor in 1930. Druggist Travis Pendergrass occupied the lower floor. He had a soda fountain that was a very- popular place for dating couples.
First National Bank: 1912, SW corner of Pollasky & 5th. Pioneers who founded the bank: President Charles Teague, Vice President John Potter, Cashier F.E. Buckman and Assistant Cashier E.S. Nevins. Lewis Gibson and E.C. Smallin were directors.
R.E.L. Good: 1895, SW corner of Clovis Ave & 4th. R.E.L. Good (our first merchant) built a small (25 x 36 ft.) wooden building that was replaced with the present brick building (75 x 120 ft.) in 1900. He carried dry goods, clothing, hardware, groceries, and farm/ranch merchandise. He was a generous creditor to the ranchers and farmers. He retired in 1917 with only $700 in bad credit.
John E. Good: 1906, NW corner of Clovis Ave. & 5th. He was the brother of R.E.L. Good. Brothers Sam, Henry and Charles were also merchants in Old Town. John purchased the 1906 B.K. Smith store on that corner. It was destroyed by fire that same year and was replaced by the present two-story brick building and adjacent single-story buildings (north).
The PBIA (Parking and Business Improvement Area) was created to support our historic buildings and encourage new businesses. The area: Woodworth (east side), Pollasky and Clovis Ave from 7th Street to 3rd Street.
Old Town is a safe and pretty area that has preserved our rich heritage.