Uncovering the lost story of a 93-year old Fresno mural, standing the test of time and vandalism inside the old Hotel Fresno

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Project Hotel Fresno is moving right along. Every level but the ground floor is expected to be completed by this summer. But while the decor and furniture will undergo an extreme makeover, there’s only one original image that will never be erased. If you were to walk inside the gutted Hotel Fresno, all the walls are torn down or bare, except for one.

“Luckily Alexan the faces are in tact” said Dean Kasparian.

Tarnished by graffiti and the decay of time, 108-years, this mural, plastered halfway up the famous spiral steps, portrays Rudolph Valentino riding on a camel in the Sahara Desert. Created by the hands and wild imagination of Charles Chas Maroot.

“It was a lot of imagination and his paintings were always that way,” said Kasparian.

Maroot’s grandson, Dean Kasparian thought he would never see this mural again.

“I got a phone call right before New Years eve from Kevin Duarte saying I have your number and email, I understand this is your grandfather’s mural, I almost fell over in my office.”

It was the first time he had seen it in nearly 40 years. The 93-year old painting, completed in 1927, that Dean says is not only the oldest mural in Fresno, but a historical symbol handcrafted by a teenager at the time, who just loved to paint.

“It started off with a portrait of the chef and his wife, they asked him to be on staff and this mural transpired.”

Dean says the mural is a reflection of hope and how Fresno embraced his grandfather during a time of uncertainty. At 8-years old, Maroot’s parents were among the one and half million killed in the Armenian genocide. He and his grandmother fled to New York and then made their way to Fresno.

“This mural doesn’t represent an artist, it represents humanity,” said Kasparian.

The mural will be preserved by April, Dean’s brother Clint, who works in Hollywood, will repaint about 80% of it. About $20,000 of the $27-million slated to renovate the hotel has been set aside to restore the mural.

“Something like this made front page news, almost 100-years ago.” said Kasparian.

A look back in time and standing the test of time for generations to come.

Charles Maroot passed away in 1996. But he still has other works of art alive and well, like the alter painting that sits inside the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church.

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