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SAVING HOTEL FRESNO

FRESNO, Calif. -
   It's not much to look at sitting on a dead end street, window's covered with wood.     Some might call it an eye-sore that's been empty for decades.  But, if you take a closer look, there's beauty in those crumbling walls and even "love" from some who've never set foot inside the boarded up door..
   Christopher Rocha is showing love for the Hotel Fresno.  He arranged February's heart bombing of the 106 year old building.  He started a Facebook page to save it, and has a growing memorabilia collection from Fresno's most extravagant hotel of its time.  "Most Fresnans don't look beyond the exterior, and I think that's why I started collecting these pieces from the hotel," says Rocha.  "I think that's what I love about the Hotel Fresno is that it's a reminder that downtown Fresno was just like any other downtown.  We had a bustling downtown."
  It's hard to comprehend how a building once considered lavish, and hosted movie stars, and dignitaries like Richard Nixon on a gubernatorial campaign swing, has been empty and neglected since the mid-80's.
  A tour inside several years ago with a former property owner shows the remnants of it's once grand lobby and impressive fireplace and neo-classic design. 
  Laura Van Onna is Fresno's Historic Preservation Specialist.  She says the 7-story Hotel designed by architect Edward T. Foulkes is on the local historic register.  " At the time it was constructed and for a while, it was the largest hotel between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  So it was really a hub in the central valley," says Van Onna.  She also says the Hotel Fresno may soon be on the national list.  "The nomination being put forward to the National Register is being put forward by the current property owners who want to rehabilitate the building and bring it back into use," she says.  
  The national designation would give the owners a 20% tax credit for the renovation says Van Onna, which could open these doors to the public once again.  That's something Christopher Rocha looks forward to.  "I think it would be huge for downtown as we continue to revitalize to have such an important piece of our history come back to life," says Rocha.  
  Back to life, maybe not in its former glory.. .but in some form and in some way, once again.`   
    


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