Another View: Roseville could learn from Anaheim’s regrets on destroying history

By: J'aime Rubio, special to the Press Tribune
-A +A

A long time ago, there was a small town in Southern California that was famously known for its orange groves and a new theme park that had just opened named Disneyland. Back then, Anaheim was not the huge city it is today. Actually, it once was a small family oriented town full of life, very much like Roseville. In fact, it also had a beautiful downtown, just like Roseville.

It wasn’t until the late 1960s and 1970s, when the mayor and city leaders decided to destroy the original downtown of Anaheim, in the name of "progress," that they learned years later that the heart of Anaheim just about died with it. Instead of preserving its downtown, like neighboring city Fullerton did, Anaheim chose to do away with their old structures altogether and left a bad taste in residents mouths for years to come.

Countless Anaheim residents who I’ve interviewed made it painfully clear that the demolition of Anaheim’s historic downtown buildings devastated them.

 “The old downtown’s gone, but not forgotten,” recalled resident Dick Gerber recalls. “I'm just happy I captured bricks from several of our buildings. Sadly, I can only remember the ones from the old California Building. That's where I met my bride.”

 A resident named Rosemary Gonzalez put it this way: “They ruined the heart of downtown and they can never get it back. There is no real downtown anymore.”

Like Anaheim, Roseville’s downtown area on Vernon Street has a vast array of beautiful, historical buildings. It is exciting to think of all the history that these places have seen over the years and all of the fond memories they hold in the hearts of Roseville residents as well. The buildings alone are historical landmarks and should be treated as such.

Sadly, some of Roseville’s historic buildings appear to be on the “chopping block” in the near future, including its Old City Hall building on Vernon Street. As someone who writes about Roseville’s history, I can tell you it’s leaving questions in many locals’ minds as to what will happen to many pieces of Roseville’s history if it is bulldozed away, just like what happened so many years ago in Anaheim?

With the ever growing population of Roseville, eventually when it settles down, people will want to know about their hometown. They will start looking and researching to see what history lies beneath the layers of this city. Whether homegrown locals or new arrivals to this city, there comes a sense of pride in your hometown, and with that an inclination to know about it’s past.

Preserving what is left of Roseville’s historic public buildings should be a priority, not a burden on the City. Another thought is that, if they remove these buildings now, what about other historic buildings in the future? Will it stop here? Or will this just be the beginning?

Although my hometown of Anaheim could not save their historical buildings like its many residents wanted, maybe, just maybe Roseville residents will be able to learn from the mistakes of the past and work to save its historical buildings, before it is too late.

J'aime Rubio is a journalist, researcher, blogger and contributing writer to the Press Tribune.