The land on which the City of Oxnard is located today was originally part of a great alluvial delta formed mainly by the Santa Clara River that gently slopes to the Pacific Ocean. It is the largest and most extensive level surface in Ventura County. The Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing tree and vegetable crops.
The Chumash Indians lived along the coast for over a thousand years. The large coastal villages included Mugu and Hueneme with smaller villages along the Santa Clara River. The indians traded with villages on the Channel Islands and used canoes called “tomols” to travel back and forth to the islands.
Rancho Rio de Santa Clara or La Colonia
The first Spanish mission in the area was established in San Buenaventura in 1782, and by 1833, the Spanish began rewarding their soldiers and civil servants by awarding large grants of land. In 1837 Rancho Rio de Santa Clara or La Colonia was granted to eight soldiers who had served with the Santa Barbara Company. Each soldier held an undivided interest in the 44,833 acre ranch located south of the Santa Clara River adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
Rafael Gonzales appears to be the only soldier to live on the rancho. He raised cattle and lived in a small adobe dwelling located between present day Gonzales Road and the Santa Clara River. The drought of 1863-64 resulted in widespread cattle starvation, and no doubt prompted the sale of the rancho.
In 1864 Thomas Bard, land agent for Thomas Scott, purchased 32,000 of the 44,833 acre Rancho Rio de Santa Clara or La Colonia. Thomas Scott was Acting U.S. Secretary of War, Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and an oilman. He purchased this property, along with five other Ventura ranchos, in order to exploit their oil potential.
Bard eventually became the largest landowner of La Colonia, but a squabble over land ownership flared up over the boundaries between rancho and government owned public lands. During this period, many families squatted on what they believed to be public land available for homesteading. Other owners of Rancho La Colonia included Jose Lobero. In 1867 Christian Borchard, a native of Germany, purchased 1,000 acres of land from Lobero, including the Gonzales adobe. Borchard is credited with being the first farmer on La Colonia (Hutchinson, Vol. I, 1965: 166).
In 1868 Bard advertised portions of the rancho for sale in Northern California. Some of the earliest to settle and purchase land from Bard were Michael Kauffman, John D. Patterson, Dominick McGrath, Peter Donlon, James Leonard and Mark McLaughlin. In 1869 Bard sold parcels to Jacob Gries and James Saviers (682 acres), Peter Donlon (533 acres) and William I. Rice (1,762 acres). Many of these farmers had migrated from Northern California after hearing about the available land for sale on La Colonia. During the early 1870s, Juan Camarillo sold portions of La Colonia to Jacob and Gotfried Maulhardt and Johannes Borchard (1,320 acres) (Hutchinson, Vol. I, 1965: 168-69).
With the arrival of these first farmers, many of Irish and German descent, Bard realized that a town needed to be established to serve their shipping and supply needs. The town of Point Hueneme was established by Bard in 1869 and a wharf was constructed in 1871, the first true wharf on the coastline between Santa Cruz and San Pedro. Between 1871 and 1900 farmers settled on the La Colonia and shipped their products through the Hueneme Wharf. The town of Hueneme grew slowly as a merchant class evolved and the ship- ping trades were established. Through the 1880s barley was the predominant crop raised by farmers and shipped primarily to San Francisco. Other important products included wheat, corn, beans, mustard, sheep, hogs, wool and eggs. The expanding agricultural trade led to a lighthouse being constructed at Point Hue- neme in 1874. Farmers were constantly experimenting with new crops. In addition to barley, grains and lima beans, the sugar beet made its debut as a new crop when Johannes Borchard planted the first sugar beets for use as livestock feed.
On February 1, 1878, a survey of Rancho La Colonia was completed, the courts approved ownerships, and the long-disputed land titles were resolved. However, it would not be until 1887 that the squatter claims were settled, in Thomas Bard’s favor.
Sugar Beet Industry and the Oxnard Brothers
In 1895 Borchard and Albert Maulhardt visited the Chino Sugar Beet Refinery in San Bernardino County with the intent of test-planting sugar beets as a major crop. Maulhardt returned with seed from the refinery and set out five acres on land owned by Thomas Bard in 1896. Encouraged by Bard, Henry T. Oxnard and Claus Spreckles visited Hueneme to examine the potential for building a sugar refinery near the wharf. Oxnard wanted it centrally located, nearer to the growers. By 1897 Maulhardt had convinced a large number of farmers to plant beets, resulting in the end of large scale grain raising. In 1897, 225 tons of beets a day were shipped through Montalvo, a Ventura Beet Growers Union had been formed, and brothers Henry T. and John Oxnard had decided to build a beet sugar refinery in the area, which remained relatively isolated. At the time, no railroad or bridge connected the northern and southern banks of the Santa Clara River.
The sugar beet industry got its start in the 1870s in Northern California with the establishment of the nation’s first commercial beet sugar factory by Ebenezer Dyer, who organized the California Beet Sugar Company. The industry expanded little until 1888, when Claus Spreckels established a large sugar beet factory in Watsonville and recruited farmers to grow beets, educating them on beet culture and offering prizes as incentives. By 1896 the Watsonville plant was the largest sugar factory operating in the U.S. and attracted the attention of Henry and Robert Oxnard, who had been in the sugar refinery business in New York. Henry Oxnard had competed with Spreckels as a refiner of Hawaiian cane sugar in San Francisco.
Their father Thomas Oxnard, a native of Marseilles, France, had been a cane sugar grower and producer for years on his sugar plantation in Louisiana. Robert, the first son of ten children, followed his father into the sugar business. Following his education in Boston he entered the sugar export business in Havana in 1872 and in 1876 entered into his father’s sugar refinery in Brooklyn, New York. He settled in San Francisco in 1888 and became president of the American Sugar Refinery Company and the Western Sugar Refinery Company.
Henry Thomas Oxnard, born in Marseilles, France in 1860, grew up in Boston, graduating from Harvard in 1882. Henry took a more political role than his brothers, becoming involved in lobbying in Washington, D.
C. The rapid development of the beet sugar industry in California was aided by the passage of the McKinley
Tariff Act in 1890, which provided a two-cent-per-pound federal bounty on all domestic sugar and the free importation of sugar machinery and beet seed. Henry Oxnard played a role in this legislation by appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee in 1889 to argue persuasively for its passage.
The Oxnards built two refineries in Nebraska in 1890 and a refinery factory in Chino in 1891 and organized the Chino Valley Beet Sugar Company, later renamed the American Beet Sugar Company. The Oxnards also persuaded local farmers to grow sugar beets. From 1891 to 1895, their sugar production tonnage increased tenfold. Robert and Henry Oxnard had two other brothers involved in the beet sugar industry as well: Benjamin, who worked in the South and East in cane sugar production, and James, who assisted Henry in forming the beet sugar companies.
In 1897 the Dingley Tariff Act helped promote domestic sugar by establishing a tariff on imported sugar, resulting in the construction of thirty-six new sugar refineries throughout the United States. With the pas- sage of this tariff, the Oxnard Brothers began construction of their fourth factory in late 1897, the new mammoth Pacific Beet Sugar Company plant in the town of Oxnard. One hundred acres of land had been purchased for the refinery by the Oxnards from Henry Rice on land originally owned by the Saviers family. The factory was completed the following year. In 1899 all four Oxnard Brothers factories were incorporated under the American Beet Sugar Company name (Osborn, 1972).
Shipping construction equipment to the beet sugar refinery site required the construction of a wooden rail- road trestle and rail line over the Santa Clara river, connecting with the Southern Pacific main line in Montalvo in late 1897, reaching the factory in April of 1898. Over 900 railroad cars delivered machinery and materials to construct the factory. In 1898 a separate wagon bridge was built.
The building of the railroad trestle occurred during the same year as the platting of the Oxnard townsite, but actually preceded the completion of the construction of the American Beet Sugar Company’s Oxnard factory. With the completion of the trestle, equipment could be sent by railroad car to the factory site to aid in construction. The railroad provided the newly established community with the ability to ship sugar from the refinery to market. The Oxnard Brothers, for whom the townsite was named, provided Southern Pacific with the right-of-way required to bring the railroad to Oxnard.
The completion of the first section of the Montalvo Cutoff in 1898, connecting Oxnard to the north county and the main Southern Pacific line, proved to be a pivotal event in the development of the agricultural potential of the Oxnard Plain, enabling the success of the beet sugar industry in Ventura County, and ensuring the success of the Oxnard townsite.
In addition to the Southern Pacific Railroad, a local railroad, the Bakersfield and Ventura Railroad, was completed between Oxnard and Port Hueneme in 1905. It was used for both passengers and freight, and served both farmers and the sugar beet factory. In 1912 the railroad was purchased by the American Beet Sugar Company and renamed the Ventura County Railway. This railroad remained an important link between the farmers who established “beet dumps” adjacent to the railroad for the temporary storage of beets destined for the factory. However, as farmers began to diversify their crops, some of these sidings were removed. Passenger service was terminated in 1926. (Maguire: 1961)
The Ventura County Railway played an important role in transporting sugar beets from the individual ranches to the factory. However, an even larger, earlier, and more important role was played initially by the construction of the Southern Pacific trestle and the Montalvo Cutoff, which enabled the construction of the factory and the establishment of the town, and it continued to carry the American Beet Sugar Company’s product to market until the factory’s closure. The railroad also allowed for the marketing of the other important agricultural products of the Oxnard Plain, such as lima beans and barley. Warehouses were built adjacent to the railroad to house the numerous grains and beans awaiting shipment to market. A large farm implement industry grew up in Oxnard as a result of the prominence of agriculture in the region.
Construction of Factory and Industrial Area
Thomas J. Osborne, in his article on the Oxnard Brothers, states:
This new structure was reputed to be the “model sugar factory of America.” The factory buildings, of- fices, boilers, rotary and vertical lime kilns and storage tanks were situated on a 100-acre tract in the midst of rich beet soil. The average dollar return per acre of beets jumped from $48.35 in 1897 to $59.01 in 1901, while the factory registered a corresponding increase in “tons of beets produced.” The factory had the capacity to process 2,000 tons of beets per day. (Osborne, 1972: 121)
On the factory grounds, individual housing was built for the engineer, the supervisor, the manager as well as an Officer’s Club. A two-story lodging house and a nearby dining room was built by the company for the workers. In addition, 22 homes were built for workers on Donlon Street near the factory. North of the factory grounds the company built 36 adobe houses for Mexican field workers. Other buildings were referred to as the “Campaign” lodging house and dining room. Sugar beets were brought to the factory for processing during the “campaign,” or season, which began with the beet harvest in September, with processing occur- ring through January. During the campaign season, the factory operated twenty-four hours a day seven days a week with 150 to 600 employees at full capacity. The rest of the year the factory operated with only a skeleton crew assigned to repair and maintenance.
Oxnard Beet Sugar Factory, 1898. (Oxnard Public Library)
The labor force was both skilled and semi-skilled. The Oxnard factory was unionized in the late 1930s. Mi- grant laborers were usually hired during the peak season, to harvest and to thin and top the beets.
Near the factory, a passenger and freight depot was built adjacent to the railroad tracks in 1898. A large warehouse was constructed across from the depot for the Southern Pacific Milling Company to store beans and grain. Additional related buildings included a beer depot and the Union Ice Company Ice House. By 1903 a Walnut Grower’s Warehouse was built near the depot as well as several railroad-related buildings in- cluding a section house, bunk house and hand car house.
With the town of Hueneme some four-and-a-half miles away, and recognizing the need for housing and services for the beet sugar factory and its employees, the Colonia Improvement Company was established in 1898 to lay out a town site west of the factory on lands purchased from Jack and Aranetta Hill.
The town was laid out on the grid system bounded by A Street on the east; D Street on the west; Fourth Street on the north; and Sixth Street on the south. In the center was a plaza. The following year, in 1899, the boundaries were expanded to Saviers Road on the east; E Street on the west; Third Street on the north; and Seventh Street on the south. (Heil, 1978: 19-21)
Housing was built rapidly to accommodate the growing workforce. Many buildings were moved in from Hueneme and Saticoy to meet the shortage. New false-front wood and brick business buildings were constructed along Fifth Street, which became the main commercial street, from B Street to Saviers Road and fronting the plaza on both the north and south sides. Located on a prominent corner opposite the plaza, the Oxnard Hotel was among the first buildings in the new town, opening in 1899, to house visitors and provide rooms for new sugar beet factory employees. It was a large three story wood shingled building with a corner tower and wrap-around porches.
By early 1900, numerous hotels and lodging houses were built throughout the city to house new arrivals and to provide temporary rooms for workers. They included the Germania Hotel, The Colonia, The Belleville and the Santa Clara House, among others. Hastily erected canvas tents and cabins were put up to alleviate the acute housing shortage, with as many as five occupying a city lot.
Within two years, the city had grown to a population of 1,000 residents. A water system had been constructed by the Colonia Improvement Company for fire and domestic use, and a volunteer fire department had been established. The Ventura County Power Company installed gas pipes in 1904 and the Oxnard Light and Water Company was established in 1905. In 1912 the City of Oxnard acquired the community’s gas, water and electric utilities from the Ventura County Power Company.
Building materials were supplied by the Ventura County Lumber Company and People’s Lumber Company and a planing mill built by O.L. Newby. Entertainment and social life was provided by fraternal halls, concert halls and saloons. Several churches were built or moved in, and a school site on Third Street was selected, where Oxnard City Hall is located today. A second private boarding and day school was built by St. Joseph’s Institute by 1903.
In 1903 the city incorporated, and Richard B. Haydock selected as the new president of the Board of Trustees. It was through his efforts as well as others, that a letter was sent to Andrew Carnegie requesting funds for the construction of a library. Oxnard thus became one of the 1,679 libraries Carnegie funded in the United States between 1886 and 1919, and the only city in Ventura County, to receive Carnegie funds. The library was completed in 1907 on the corner of Fifth and C streets and housed the City Hall in the basement of the new building. (Haydock, 1966) The following year the plaza was offered to the City of Oxnard by the Colonia Improvement Company. The city hired Los Angeles landscape architect William David Cook to design a beautification plan for the park. In 1910 a pagoda was built in the park and functioned as a bandstand. County-wide Fourth of July events were held in Oxnard in 1910 and 1911. (Miedema, 1992)
The town of Oxnard grew rapidly after 1898. By 1912, J.R. Gabbert, Secretary of the Board of Trade, wrote, “Oxnard has a greater freight business over the Southern Pacific than all the other cities combined between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles. In fact the receipts from freight shipments at this little city rank fifth among all the coast shipping points.” (Heil, 1978: 44) By 1912, $4 million worth of sugar beets were being processed each year, and nearly as much in lima bean crops.
The construction of the sugar beet factory encouraged farmers to plant sugar beets, and this crop, when rotated with lima beans and barley, remained the principal cash crop for farmers on the Oxnard Plain for close to fifty years. The sugar beet industry defined the town of Oxnard, which became the largest city in Ventura County in 1950, a position it has retained to the present day. The sugar beet factory was demolished in the late 1950s as the industry moved elsewhere, but growers transitioned to row crops and lemons. Agriculture remains a viable industry on the Oxnard Plain, with strawberries taking over as the current leading row crop.
Oxnard continued to grow rapidly during the 1920s from 4,400 to 6,285 in 1930. However, the city did not sustain the rate of growth it experienced during the prior two decades, or match the growth of Ventura or Santa Paula during the 1920s. Ventura’s population nearly tripled and Santa Paula nearly doubled between 1920 and 1930.
The commercial district kept pace. Many previously vacant lots filled in with new businesses during this time. Fifth Street remained the heart of the district, but the adjacent A and B streets also began to develop as the downtown expanded. The Roosevelt Highway was built in 1929, connecting the Oxnard plain region with Los Angeles via the coast, passing through Oxnard on the city’s main north-south arterial, Saviers Road. The name of Saviers Road was changed to Oxnard Boulevard, possibly in response to its new role as part of the statewide highway system. The highway was designated as State Route 1 in 1964.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s building construction slowed substantially in Oxnard, as it did throughout most of the country. Public works projects under Roosevelt’s New Deal provided work to some individuals through the WPA and PWA programs. One of the most significant public works projects was the Oxnard Post Office constructed in 1939 on A and 4th streets. On the interior is a mural created by Daniel Marcus Mendelowitz in 1941 depicting Oxnard showing farmhouses, agriculture, the sugar beet factory and the town.
Corner of 5th and B streets, circa 1940.
Other Depression-era public works programs for Oxnard included a new sewer system and the establishment of the Oxnard Airport.
In 1937 Oxnard’s voters approved a $1,750,000.00 general obligation bond to establish a deep-water harbor at Port Hueneme. The Oxnard Harbor District included the same boundaries as the Oxnard School District. The district attempted to obtain federal funds to help with the project but was turned down. The harbor dredging was completed with a new transit shed and dockside facilities completed in 1940. It was in operation only a short time before the harbor and surrounding lands were appropriated under wartime powers by the Chief of Naval Operations on March 9, 1942 in order to establish the Naval Advanced Base Depot, later known as the Construction Battalion Center. The base served as a staging area for the shipment of construction materials to the Pacific Theatre, and as a training center for the Seabees, builders of bases in the Pacific Islands during wartime.
In 1946 the Naval Air Missile Test Center (now the Pacific Missile Test Center) was established at Point Mugu, one of the most important military facilities in the West. The first live missile, the Loon, was launched in 1947. Although it failed, others that followed proved successful. The test center grew from a population of 612 in 1946 to 4,800 military and civilian personnel by 1956.
The military’s presence attracted many professionals including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and physicists. Private industry was stimulated and firms such as Raytheon, Bendix Aviation and others were established in Oxnard and elsewhere in the county. Coldwar era military expansion continued with the establishment of the Oxnard Air Force Base at Camarillo in 1952, part of the West Coast Air Defense System Headquarters of the 414th Fighter Group.
Ventura County benefitted from the hiring of more than 10,000 civilian workers and 21,000 military personnel, thus providing jobs for local residents and reviving the economy following the Depression of the 1930s. Oxnard was to grow as a direct result of the military bases as its population more than doubled from 8,519 in 1940 to 21,567 by 1950. (Triem, 1985: 134-36)
With the tremendous growth occurring in Oxnard during the 1940s, the city decided that the Mayor/City Council administration that had been in place since 1904 was outdated, and replaced it with a city manager form of government. The first planning director was hired in 1949 and a Planning Commission established. A Master Plan for the city adopted in 1949 laid the foundation for change in the downtown business district. The decade of the 1950s would witness the execution of this new plan, which was revised in 1952 and 1958.
The post-war era marked a major period of transition for the downtown, reflecting not only the growth of the city as a whole, but its ambitions. Aggressive efforts were undertaken to improve the community’s image. Residential uses in the downtown district, primarily south of Second Street and east of C Street, were steadily displaced by new commercial construction, eventually establishing A and B streets, along with Fifth Street, as the heart of the commercial district.
Roughly 500 buildings were demolished during the 1950s by order of the City of Oxnard, thirty of them in the downtown commercial district. Many of these buildings were older, dilapidated residences hastily constructed when the town was first established in order to provide worker housing.
Major new commercial anchors added to downtown during the 1950s included the J.C. Penney department store, located on A and Sixth streets, built in 1955 and the General Telephone Company office in 1952 on C Street. Oxnard Savings and Loan built a handsome new modern glass and brick office building at 560 South A Street in 1956. The Asahi Market, first established on Oxnard Boulevard in 1907, moved into a new building at 660 South Oxnard Boulevard in 1957 to mark their fiftieth anniversary. Deiner’s Men’s Wear store, established in 1913, opened a new store in 1957 at 534 South A Street.
After sixty years of dominating Oxnard’s skyline, in 1958, the sugar beet refinery ceased operations. The economic impacts of the plant’s closure on employment and tax base were substantial, but not devastating. Agriculture in the region had already diversified to more profitable cash crops, including lemons and fresh vegetable truck farming, and the city’s economic base had widened substantially during the postwar era to include food processing, the military, and Cold War industries. During its final years, the plant remained in operation mainly by processing sugar beets transported in from other areas. The plant was demolished in July 1959, and a new industrial park built on the factory site.
The 1960s and 1970s marked a period of intensive urban renewal efforts directed by the city. The city created the “need for” a Redevelopment Agency on November 8, 1960, under resolution number 2365, followed by the creation of the Redevelopment Agency in 1967. The first redevelopment project area in the down- town was formed in May, 1968. Numerous downtown parcels were cleared of buildings constructed during the first three decades of the city’s growth and development, some to be developed anew, but many to be redeveloped as parking lots. With the demolition of virtually all of the buildings on the streets bounding Plaza Park completed by the early 1970s, the heart of downtown shifted towards the relatively newer sections of the commercial district, and the recently-developed pedestrian mall on A Street. The 1971 Sylmar Earthquake hastened this process, leading to the demolition of some of the remaining older, and now dam- aged, buildings in the downtown.
The Esplanade Shopping Center, constructed in the Wagon Wheel area in 1969-71, marked a major shift in Oxnard’s commercial center towards the northern edge of the city and away from downtown. The mall’s large department stores hastened the demise of the smaller, family-owned shops in downtown Oxnard. In re- sponse to the downtown’s declining economic fortunes, the city converted A Street between Third and Sixth streets into a pedestrian mall in 1971. The street was closed to automobiles and plantings with benches were added to provide an inviting atmosphere. Buildings were removed to create additional parking for shoppers.
By the end of 1964, the three military facilities employed an average of 14,823 workers comprised of military, civilian and contract employees. The city’s population growth continued unabated, nearly doubling between 1960 and 1970, from 40,265 to 71,225.
Entertainment played an important role early in the city’s history. The earliest forms of entertainment were created primarily for the working class. A large number of saloons and billiard halls were built in downtown Oxnard during the first decade of its existence. These businesses provided a place for the sugar beet factory workers and farm laborers to socialize after a long day at labor, and especially on weekends. A count indi- cates that 13 saloons and 14 billiard halls operated in 1910, far outnumbering any other type of business in downtown.
Movie and vaudeville theaters were also built in Oxnard. In 1910, they included: the Aztec Theatre at Fifth and B streets; the Palm Theatre at 546 Saviers Road; and the Victory Theatre at C and Fifth streets. By the 1920s, the Oxnard Theatre at 519 S. A Street was constructed and the Boulevard Theater at 626 S. Saviers Road. Two concert halls were built by 1905, one at Pioneer Hall on B and Sixth streets and the other at the
Masonic Hall at Fifth and C streets. Between 1906 and 1916 an Opera House was built on C Street near Sixth Street. The last theater to be built in downtown Oxnard was the Vogue Theater at Sixth and B streets, com- pleted in 1950. The only early theaters remaining today are the Vogue Theatre (now converted to a retail building) and the Boulevard Theatre (now, the Boulevard Teatro).
In 1906 the large Dreamland Skating rink was opened on C Street, south of Fifth Street. Business was slow, so the following year the Petit Theatre was added, with roller skating reduced to two nights a week. The theatre lasted until 1909 when the owner/builder J.W. Hurst decided to convert the building into an Opera House, with a new sloping floor, seating for 1,000 people, a stage and orchestra pit.
Under the management of George P. Austin, the Opera House succeeded with a variety of entertainment from classical, vaudeville, minstrel shows, musicals as well as lecturers and local high school plays. As projection equipment improved, movies became more popular and were also shown at the Opera House. By 1915, mov- ies brought in most of the theatergoers. The Opera House lasted until 1922, primarily because of its location on a main route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and only 60 miles from Hollywood. That year the Opera House was badly damaged by fire, believed to be caused by an arsonist, and was demolished.
A new Carnegie Library building was completed on C Street at Fifth in 1907. Richard Haydock, Oxnard’s mayor and high school principal, wrote Andrew Carnegie to solicit funds for the new library. The city purchased three lots for the building, with a portion of the cost donated by Henry T. Oxnard and Associates. The city also levied an annual assessment. Haydock solicited support from the Shakespeare Club and a Women’s Civic League was formed to promote the library by opening a free public reading room in anticipation of its construction.
Haydock selected Franklin P. Burnham, a Los Angeles architect specializing in library design, to draft plans for the new library. Carnegie donated $12,000 for the building, and the city paid for the remainder. Thomas Carroll, local builder, constructed the building. The final cost was $16,016 to build the classical Greek-style building, which was completed in May 1907.
The basement of the library housed the City Hall until 1949, when the city offices had outgrown the small space, and offices were moved to the Roosevelt School. City offices would not have a purpose-built home until the construction of the present city hall in 1969.
An addition to the east side of the library was completed in 1923, designed by architect Alfred Priest and built by Thomas Carroll. The basement was remodeled in 1949 by R.A. Polley, a local architect. With the population doubling from 20,000 in 1950 to 40,000 in 1960, a new library building was needed, so in 1963 a new library was designed by Oxnard architects Miller and Crowell. In 1970 a sixty foot addition to the south end of the library was designed by architects Leach, Kehoe and Ticer. In 1992 a new main library on A Street was built to replace the C Street library.
Between the library and the opera house lay Plaza Park. The Oxnard Plaza was laid out by the Colonia Improvement Company in 1898 as part of the original plan for the town. In 1908 the park was purchased by the city and the Los Angeles landscape architect William David Cook was hired by the city to design a new landscape plan for the park. Cook’s plans removed the earlier sidewalk pattern and trees and replaced it with a simpler sidewalk plan, new trees and street lights. His plan also called for a structure to be built in the center of the park around the water tank that covered an artesian well. In addition, a plan for an irrigation system new walkways and trees was proposed. Architect Alfred Priest was hired to design a concrete Pagoda with a tile roof and Thomas Carroll was selected as contractor.
The first Pagoda covered the water system but did not have a bandstand. In 1910 the City of Oxnard ap- proved funding to support an Oxnard band. In 1911 the city decided to raise the roof of the Pagoda and create an open bandstand underneath it. Alfred Priest made new drawings and contractor Carroll carried out the plans. The pagoda was restored in the 1990s.
Copyright 2016 Downtown Oxnard Merchants Association.