New owners of Woolworth building say they will seek historic register status
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Hanging out at the soda fountain is an image indelibly etched in mid-20th-century America. But those American Graffiti postcards don’t exist in real life, do they?
Well, not yet – at least not on 19th Street, where the Woolworth’s lunch counter is closed – temporarily – while the new owners, the financial planners the Moneywise Guys, prepare for a renovation. major.
But not so important, the Old Five and a Hundred, a 44,000 square foot mid-century modern building built in 1949, will lose its value as a historic landmark.
Dave Anderson of the Moneywise Guys wants to protect the historic integrity of the building by listing it on a National Historic Register – which will, among other things, ensure that the lunch counter cannot be removed.
“We are in the process of registering the building as a historic building with National Parks,” he said. “What it does is it kind of forces everyone involved to respect the history of the building.”
Owners of historic buildings generally receive tax breaks in return for the guarantee that they will preserve certain distinctive features of the structure. Bakersfield already has several buildings on the national, state, or local historic registers, but nothing like it in other cities.
“We have, I believe, 12 to 14 buildings that are actually registered,” Anderson said. “For comparison, Fresno has over 200.”
The Moneywise Guys continue to search for a food counter operator who will pick up where the longtime former operator left off a few weeks ago. But there is a catch – the counter will have to close for several months, possibly a year, while the whole building undergoes a major renovation from August which will create retail and office space, residential units and a concert hall in the basement. Managing the lunch counter then, Anderson promises, will be much more appealing.
You might not think a restaurant from the 50s deserves historic protection. The new owners of this iconic slice of Americana think a piping hot cheeseburger one of these days might change your mind.