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Facade restoration begins on Fresno’s oldest building


FRESNO, California (KGPE/ KSEE) – A historic building in downtown Fresno is being restored to its former glory.

Construction crews are working on what they’re calling the oldest building in the city.

The Expositor building dates back to the late 1800’s. It’s located on Fulton, between Mariposa and Tulare.

Construction crews have removed the first two layers covering up the original brick. Eventually four original windows will be uncovered.

Those involved in the project say they just want to bring history back to life.

This may seem like an ordinary old building, but what lies behind these wall panels is history. “We discovered that the original arched windows which were like 12 feet tall, were still there just bricked in,” says John Rupe.

Rupe is a local history buff. He says this started seven years ago when he was building a model of downtown Fresno’s Fulton Street. “I researched the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and once I got to this location, I discovered that it was built in 1881,” he says.

Photos show what it looked like in 1881. In 1888, a second floor was added.

Rupe says not only is it the oldest building in downtown Fresno, it housed the first working newspaper called the Expositor. According to Rupe, “We went underneath the basement and actually found newspapers dating back to 1896.”

Rupe reached out to the current owner who lives in the bay area. Together they agreed to try and restore it to its former glory.

Even getting it listed in the local historic register. Rupe calling it a big win. “The building was covered over in the 50’s so a lot of people lost fact that there was an older building under there,” he says.

District 3 Fresno City Council Member Miguel Arias agrees. “Fresno had a bad reputation of destroying historic buildings instead of maintaining them for future generations. So this is a huge turning point for us,” Arias says.

After all these years, that 50’s façade now coming off. The inside gutted. Only for more historical gems to be found. Like the original hardwood floors, brick and wallpaper.

“We’re really excited to love on this building, we don’t get an opportunity to do really cool historical stuff very often,” says David Robertson of Nolan Thomas Construction.

As for what this building will end up being, the owner says he’s not quite sure yet.

He’s thinking of some kind of restaurant or bar. He says he hopes to have it open in the next year or two.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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