History is Everyone's Responsibility

We learn from our past in order to achieve greater influence over our future…

We all felt the loss, and many of us cried deep tears the day we saw the flames at the beautiful World Heritage Site of Notre Dame. Gratefully, the tragedy that could have unfolded was not the absolute worst. Let’s use this recent memory as a reminder about our own history and our own community and ask the question - How do we protect Roseville’s history?

Our past is among the “youngest” in the entire world. The gold rush began in 1848 and we became a State in 1850; not really that long ago in comparison. But someday future generations will look to our buildings and our sites of significance, and these citizens will want to know the influence that these historic places had on their city. Our original Fire Station and Carnegie Library Museum in Old Roseville, our Tower Theater on Vernon Street, our Pioneer Ranch Property in West Roseville, to name a few. Each of these sites is owned by the city of Roseville. Private ownership includes the Haman House, the Kaseberg Mansion, and the 1914 Belvedere Hotel (just sold to a private owner).

Each of these places and structures have significant links to Roseville’s past and each has a contribution to our story.

Why save these historic buildings? Why not write books, frame photographs, and hang plaques instead? Roseville has certainly done their fair share of books, photos and plaques! But here’s the difference - when a young student stands before an original 1879 brick smokehouse and learns first hand how our early pioneers had to smoke their meat for preservation, and when that same student walks into a 75-year-old art deco theater, they gain a new perspective about life before they were born.

Their eyes are opened. Their minds are opened. A new insight is gained and another seed for the love of their community is planted.

Why do we send our children to Auburn and Sacramento to learn about local history? Because both Sutter’s Fort and the Bernhard Museum are excellent examples of hands-on history! Children remember their field trips to these places long after their visit. But, there’s very little about Roseville history in Sacramento and Auburn.

Our community has beautiful historic places where children can learn. Our West Roseville Ranch Property (Fiddyment family pioneer home) is the perfect example. The Historical Society and the City are currently partnering to stabilize and renovate this historic place. It can easily be the site where our students visit to learn about their own, local history. Afterall, this is the last place in our area where original 1879 pioneer ranch buildings still stand!

But it’s going to take effort. And it’s going to take our community coming together to create a voice for saving our history.

Will you join us? The Roseville Historical Society’s mission is to protect, preserve and promote the history of Roseville. When we work together we win exponentially. We win for ourselves, and we will for the future of our community. We want you to join the Roseville Historical Society so we can all be together in taking history forward.

Post Office Destiny

As you can see - our last blog post in 2014 was about saving our old City Hall Building and the historic Post Office...  Unfortunately, the City Hall building was lost to the wrecking ball - but we can still save the Post Office building! Below you will find the transcript of the open letter to the Roseville City Council - presented by Christina Richter, President of the Roseville Historical Society at the City Council Meeting on July 11, 2018.

July 11, 2018

Good Evening Council Members,

The Roseville Historical Society was formed in 1983 with the mission to protect, preserve and promote the history of Roseville. Because of this mission we are frequently the first place our citizens go to understand what is happening with our historic structures.

At this time I would like to make a statement on behalf of the Roseville Historical Society about the potential sale of the historic post office on Vernon Street.

Numerous postal buildings are listed with the National Register of Historic Places and many postal buildings, such as ours on Vernon Street, house works of art from the postal arts collections.

Roseville’s post office on Vernon Street was the first federally owned building in Roseville with construction completed in 1935. Since the demolition of the historic city hall building it is the only remaining depression era city structure in Roseville.

The Great Depression era was a hugely difficult time and our little town of Roseville was deeply affected:

            -The railroad laid off 200 people and cut wages by 10% for those who remained.

            -Businesses closed leaving over 200 families in dire straits.

Our city leaders at the time, your predescessors, worked quickly and thoughtfully to make the most impactful, positive decisions for the community possible.

            -They lowered taxes

            -They started a relief fund with $1,000

            -They took over the garbage system

            -They purchased the Roseville Water Company

These actions helped to lay the positive foundation for how well our citizens and government interact.

When President Roosevelt created his New Deal and the Works Projects Administration, hope was offered to the nation. Here in Roseville hope was offered by way of a pledge of $200,000 in improvements. Both our city hall improvements and a brand new post office were part of this hope.

The post office, now the last of our depression era buildings, represents milestones and important movement all throughout our city’s history. Much has happened here in this block since the 1930s. This is the hub of our city.

This past February, the president of the Placer County Historical Society wrote a letter to this council and our city manager stating that our Post Office building had “significant architectural integrity and community social significance” and offered to provide a historic plaque that would be part of a larger project honoring the county’s remaining Depression Era buildings. Her offer was turned down.

Our community is also concerned about the Post Office and its possible destruction, some remarks about this on social media include:

            “When I was in 5th grade I wrote an essay and listed the Post Office as my favorite bulding in Roseville. I won first place! It is still one of my favorites.”

            “The people making decisions are likely not old Rosevillians…”

            “More demolition of Roseville’s past on Vernon Street…. It is sad that Vernon Street is a shell of its former past.”

            “We need to keep the old post office. …We keep tearing down perfectly good buildings and replacing them with modern looking buildings that do not fit in with downtown Roseville.”

The Downtown Specific Plan, which concluded almost ten years ago in 2009, accepts that the post office is “historically significant but not a historical structure.” The Historical Society asks if an actual professional historian deemed the building ineligible for national registry status?  From what we understand, that is what is required to officially deem a building a historical structure or not. Also, given that the plan is nearly ten years old, new guidelines and rules no doubt apply.

All of this being said as you go forward with your decision this evening the Roseville Historical Society requests two important things:

1)      If you do decide to take away this invaluable part of Roseville’s history then give back to Roseville’s history in an equal measure.

2)      Ensure that the building that replaces our historic post office is a worthy successor. The Downtown Specific Plan illustrates a beautiful building on the 300 block that was clearly a nod to our history. Unfortunately the new building at 316 Vernon Street looks nothing like what the Downtown Specific Plan illustrates.

I thank you for your time and consideration. As always, myself or any of our board members are available for conversation and we welcome the interaction.


Christina Richter

President, Roseville Historical Society

By Christina Richter, President, Roseville Historical Society

Roseville Post Office circa 1935.

Roseville Post Office circa 1935.

Roseville Post Office today. (November 2014)

Roseville Post Office today. (November 2014)

Roseville Post Office and City Hall circa 1950's.

Roseville Post Office and City Hall circa 1950's.

Roseville Post Office and old City Hall today (November 2014)

Roseville Post Office and old City Hall today (November 2014)

You may not know this, but currently slated for the wrecking ball are the old post office and old city hall buildings on Vernon Street. These two buildings served as a hub of activity almost from the first days of Roseville. The city hall building once served as our first Presbyterian Church site going back 125 years. I hear it’s uninhabitable due to mold and other issues and I have to ask the question – why?

Why wasn’t that old building protected and preserved? And why are we now looking at getting rid of an absolutely beautiful old post office building? These two gems sit directly across the new city center on Vernon Street. They are two of the most historic sites in our city!

Some of our historic beginnings, like old downtown where Main Street and Lincoln cross, is rehabilitated, and Vernon Street, which saw its primary growth in the 1920s, has been revitalized. But is that enough? Is that where our historical preservation ends?

Fiddyment ranch home in West Roseville 2012.

Fiddyment ranch home in West Roseville 2012.

The 1879 Fiddyment ranch home site in West Roseville is another of these historic buildings quickly falling into disrepair. City officials say the old home site will eventually be a public building but yet it continues to fall into decline – why? Is there a budget put aside for its repair?

Our city has done a great job attracting new companies and more families, that is true. In 1929, just 75 years ago, Roseville was a population of just 6,425 people. The latest 2014 count has us just under 127,000. We’re growing, yes, but let’s not let our history be bulldozed under in the process.

Let’s get it together Roseville, and preserve our precious past. Speak to your city council members, write letters, attend city council meetings. We at the Roseville Historical Society do our best to bring attention to the historic places in and around Roseville so that all will know our incredible history. However, our voices are much stronger if we can all speak together to fight to keep our history alive.

Please email or call the museum if you would like to join us in the crusade to ensure our historic sites are recognized and saved whenever possible. Together we can make a difference!