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These historical sites and points of interest are listed on a tour guide map which is available at the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau, 89 S. California Street, Ventura. (805)648-2075.
All sites are walking distance from the historical downtown area and provide a real feeling of the historical make-up of our wonderful city.
Museum of Ventura County
100 E. Main Street, Ventura
The story of Ventura County comes alive in this collection of artifacts and displays focusing on Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican pioneers, and European and Yankee settlers. The Hoffman Gallery showcases art exhibits. Be sure to visit the George Stuart collection of historic figures. Click here to visit our website.
Mission Gardens and Moreton Bay Fig Tree
Main Street between Figueroa Street and Ventura Avenue, Ventura
This land was once the Old Mission Gardens, surrounded by tall adobe walls and boasting a lion's head fountain and some of the first orange trees grown in California. The Moreton Bay Fig tree, located west of Figueroa Plaza, is over 120 years old.
Mission Plaza Archaeological Site (Albinger Archaeological Museum, Valdez Adobe, and El Caballo)
113 E. Main Street, Ventura
Albinger Archaelogical Museum was named for long-time Ventura Mayor Al Albinger and built on the home site of saloonkeeper and early mayor Angel Escondon. To the west of the museum is a walkway called Valdez Alley, where the handsome 1820 Ramon Valdez adobe once stood. The adobe served as the first polling place where all nine eligible voters cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Farther up the hill on Valdez Alley is a little Mission era brick building called "El Caballo" (the horse). The building was part of a seven-mile aqueduct system developed by the Spanish Padres and constructed by Chumash labor in the 1790's and early 1800's.
Mission San Buenaventura, Statue of Fray Junipero Serra, and Norfolk Pine Trees
Main Street / Figueroa Street Plaza, Ventura
Mission San Buenaventura was ninth and last in the chain of California missions. It was founded by Fray Junipero Serra on March 31, 1782, and completed in 1809. Damaged in the massive earthquake of December 21, 1812, the renovations, completed in 1815, included huge buttresses on the front of the building. A small museum highlights mission artifacts such as Chumash basketry and mysterious wooden bells. On Main Street, the almost life-size statue of Fray Junipero Serra was erected in 1994 by the Knights of Columbus. The mission's two Norfolk pine trees were planted over a century ago, according to local legend, by a sea captain for use as replacement masts for his ship. They are, to date, the tallest trees in the city.
Peirano's Market and Mission Lavanderia
204 and 208 E. Main Street, Ventura
Peirano's Market was one of Ventura's first commercial brick buildings, constructed in 1877 for Italian merchant Alex Gandolfo. His Nephew, Nick Peirano, took over the general store in 1890 and the store remained in the family until the late 1980's. The murals on the west outside wall are typical of commercial advertising in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1992, archaeologists discovered an elaborate Mission era "lavanderia" (laundry) with a 26 by 30 foot washing pool under the building. The lavanderia was constructed by Chumash mission converts as part of the aqueduct system during the early 1800's.
Figueroa Street Plaza, Ventura
Ventura's Chinatown (called Sui Mon Gong by its residents) began in 1866 and grew to house over 200 Chinese until 1923. Nothing remains of the simple wooden buildings that made up a completely self-contained community with its own shops, businesses, rooming houses, and a Taoist Temple that non-Chinese called "The Joss House." The Chinese were employed as farm laborers and house servants. Many Chinese residents became successful business operators in the community.
Knights of Columbus Hall
36 S. Figueroa Street, Ventura
This building, constructed as a motion picture house in 1927, was called the Mission Theater. It was taken over by the Knights of Columbus in the 1950's and slightly altered in 1976.
The Clocktower Inn / Restaurant
181 & 185 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura
Built in the 1930's as a fire station, the building has been converted into a restaurant and hotel. The tower's purpose was to dry fire hoses.
A.J. Comstock Museum
Figueroa Street Plaza, Ventura
On the northeast side of the Clock Tower Inn, facing the plaza, is the A.J. Comstock Fire Museum. This small exhibit portrays the history and growth of Ventura City's Fire Department, including the Chinese Fire Company which operated in Ventura for nearly 30 years.
Carlo Hahn House
211 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura
This fine two-story house, built in 1912, shows many characteristics of the Victorian period of 1860 to early 1900's.
Nick Peirano House
107 S. Figueroa Street, Ventura
This beautiful Queen Anne style home was built in 1897 by Nicola "Nick" Peirano for his young bride Clara Rafetto. Nick took over his uncle's grocery business in 1890. Next door are two restored Victorians, The John Love House, a Colonial revival home built in 1903 and The William Elwell House, a Queen Anne style home begun in the 1880's and completed in 1902.
Site of Spear's Saloon
298 E. Main Street, Ventura
Mr. Spear rented out the now removed second floor of his saloon to serve as the first City Hall in Ventura as well as the first County Courthouse. He served his beer to supervisors, councilmen, judges, and jurors during their frequent breaks from the tiresome work of government. The saloon won another place in Ventura's history when, in 1874, it offered the first ice cream served in Ventura as a fundraiser for the Ventura Library Association.
34 N. Palm Street, Ventura
The mural on the front wall was painted in the early 1900's and depicts the cultures and history of the community. The brick stable and carriage house were built in 1906 by Newton Sanborn. Purchased in 1921 by the county, it was remodeled and used as the county garage, and again in 1982 as the Old Town Livery.
Norton Ranch House
71 N. Palm Street, Ventura
This 1910 craftsman style house once stood on a 40-acre walnut farm on Bristol Road. It was moved to this location, restored in 1990 and designated a historic landmark in 1998. This home was linked to the prominent Chaney, Callens, Vanoni, Ramelli and DeSilva families over the years.
73 N. Palm Street, Ventura
Mr. Fredelin Hartman, a native of Bavaria, Germany, operated a profitable brewery for many years on this site. He built this Craftsman style home for his family in 1911. Gayle Kieran restored the house, full of woodwork details in 1988.
First Post Office
377 E. Main Street, Ventura
In 1861 Ventura's first postmaster, Volney A. Simpson, was said to have carried letters in his hat for delivery to residents in what is believed to be the first system of letter carrying in the state. In 1903 local businessmen of the Ventura Improvement Company raised the capital to build this structure for use as a post office at a cost of $20,000. Marks on the floors of the store show where the post office counter was once located.
Bank of Italy
394 E. Main Street, Ventura
Built in the popular beaux-arts style (Italian Renaissance Revival), this 1924 two-story bank was built for John Lagamarsino Sr. and designed by a top Los Angeles architectural firm, Morgan, Walls and Clements. Marble bas-relief was imported from Italy. Inside the building, finely decorated beams and gold leaf cornices can be seen, but unfortunately, much of the original design was lost when the building was converted in the 1930's.
Bank of Ventura Building
16 N. Oak Street, Ventura
Built in 1904 by architect J.H. Bradbeer, the two-story brick building was one of the first banks in town. For many years it operated as the Mill's Jewelry Store. One of the offices above the bank contained the first (1915) Ventura law office of Erle Stanley Gardner who wrote many Perry Mason mystery stories.
El Jardin Patio
451 E. Main Street, Ventura
The first movement to create a shopping environment began in Southern California in the 1920's--it was a movement that would end with the elaborate shopping malls of today. Built in 1925, El Jardin Patio was designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Weber, Staunton, and Spaulding. The Pacific Coast Architect Magazine (July, 1928) stated: "Entering the commercial court, the shopper feels that he is in another world. Here is a fountain, trees, flowering shrubs, and pleasant nooks in which its rests...where shopping becomes a pleasure." It has retained its Spanish Colonial style with its raised courts and wrought iron railings despite some remodeling in 1952.
487 E. Main Street, Ventura
The Hotel Ventura, now called the Ventura Inn (a residential hotel) was built in 1926 on the site of the 1903-1925 City Hall. Once the largest hotel in Ventura, with the city's second elevator, it was built by Gus Berg who owned the De Riviera Hotel in Santa Barbara. The hotel was designed by the Pasadena firm of Williard Bell and Clarance Jay. The building has many Spanish elements seen best in the double-arched entry and columns.
First National Bank Building
494 E. Main Street, Ventura
Crowning the center of the downtown commercial district is this four-storied bank building with elements of the Renaissance revival style. The interior is striking with elegant chandeliers, columns and decorative moldings. Built in 1926 by architect H.H. Winner, the building, in its time, was home to six banks. The building had one of the first elevators in Ventura County. Erle Stanley Gardner produced the drafts for his first Perry Mason novels in his second law office on the floor above the bank.
El Nido Hotel
53 S. California Street, Ventura
Built in 1927 by the County Courthouse architect Albert C. Martin, this Spanish colonial revival hotel was named "El Nido" (The Nest). Its most outstanding feature is the cast stone frieze in the Spanish "Churrigueresque" style.
555 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura
Public artwork created by Blue McRight and Warren Wagner in 1998 depicts a Chumash 'tomol' (board canoe) and paddles that link Native American and modern modes of transportation. On the sidewalk is a quote from Chumash elder Fernando Librado: "The board canoe is the house of the sea".
540 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura
Built in 1926, this fanciful Norman revival building does its best to create the impression of a French chateau with steep-pitched roofs, towers, and decorative brickwork.
Moreton Bay Fig Tree
Corner of Santa Clara and Chestnut Streets, Ventura
Planted in 1874, this giant tree provided shade for band concerts, political rallies, and war bond drives during WWII. The park was laid out in 1866 and re-landscaped several times over the years. Directly south of the park, on Thompson Blvd., stands the Historic Mitchell Block of eight homes representing a number of architectural styles from Victorian to Craftsman.
Gordon Grant Murals
675 E. Santa Clara Street, Ventura
Santa Barbara artist Gordon Grant painted the mural in the lobby of the U.S. Post Office in 1936 in the WPA Federal Arts Project style known as "American Scene" or "Regionalism."
The Ventura Theatre
26 S. Chestnut Street, Ventura
Built in 1928 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the Ventura Theater is the county's only Great Movie Palace. Vaudeville shows necessitated dressing rooms and a lofty scene dock to make it a fully functional theater. The lobby is decorated with ornate fixtures. Under the 40 foot auditorium dome hangs a magnificent chandelier surrounded by a stylized silver sunburst design.
Ventura Guaranty and Loan Building
598 E. Main Street, Ventura
Built in 1928, this elegant brick building combines designs of Spanish Colonial Revival with influences of zig-zag modern (most visible in the glazed tile and decorative brickwork). The hand-stenciled ceilings and wood paneling are reminiscent of Hearst Castle. The murals, painted by artist Norman Kennedy, depict early life at Ventura's Mission.
Fray Junipero Serra Statue
Below City Hall on California Street and Poli Street, Ventura
In 1936 the Federal Arts Project funded this heroic sculpture of the mission founder. Finnish sculptor John Palo Kangas originally cast it in cement. The present statue, an exact replica, was cast in bronze in 1989. A wooden duplicate used in the making of the bronze statue can be seen in the City Hall atrium.
Ventura City Hall
501 Poli Street, Ventura
City Hall, formerly the Ventura County Courthouse, was built by noted Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin, in 1912 in the "beaux-arts" style. Its neo-classic columns, arched windows, and terra cotta facade are offset by 24 whimsical faces of Fransiscan padres, the order that founded the city in 1782. The bronze gateways are decorated with bouquets of lima beans, a reminder that Ventura County was once the lima bean capital of the world. The Italian marble entry lobby with its dramatic sweeping stairway leads up to the second floor and what was once the Superior Courtrooom. Now the City Council Chamber, it is graced with three stained glass domes, a gift from the architect. The city purchased the property, hired the firm of Fisher and Wilde to restore and seismically upgrade the structure and opened it as City Hall in 1972. The west end of City Hall was constructed in 1931 and used as the County Sheriff's Office.
Judge Ewing Residence
605 Poli Street, Ventura
This Queen Anne style home, built in 1894 for Judge Felix Ewing, is known for its decorative Balchelder tiles, wrap around porch, and stone walls.
The Hammonds Residence
637 E. Poli Street, Ventura
This richly decorated Queen Anne style home was built in 1905 for Harry Hammonds, owner of an insurance company.
Elizabeth Bard Hospital
121 N. Fir Street Street, Ventura
This impressive Morrish Revival building was completed in 1902 as one of the most modern hospitals in Southern California by Dr. Cephas L. Bard. Ironically, he was the first patient admitted and to pass away in the hospital.
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