Retain building for history plaza

By From page A6 | October 31, 2013

It’s a remnant of our history as a town and as a nation. It’s the first building in the first park in Davis. It’s unique among city structures.

Hidden under a modern utilitarian roof and behind a mass of bolted-together massive timbers painted gray, it’s a charming small cottage. It snuggles next to the Hattie Weber Museum as if it belongs there, which it does.

It’s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) federally financed restroom building built along with Central Park in 1937. Google the WPA and you will find it was a massive effort in a terrible time — America’s Great Depression in the 1930s.
Let’s get one thing straight — I am not arguing to save the restrooms. They have long outlived their usefulness and been replaced.
So if the functions for which the building was designed are no longer relevant, why keep it? Apart from its historical significance, if you’ve been in the museum lately, you will have noticed that we are bulging at the seams — a lovely problem to have — but still a problem. The storage areas in the WPA building are an obvious and handy solution.
More important, however, is the role the old building could play as the centerpiece of a Davis History Plaza. It could be refitted with a red tile roof and painted the original color. Windows and some door openings could be refitted to show exhibits celebrating Davis and its history. Murals, photographs and maps could be installed.

Inscribed bricks honoring mothers, grandmothers and other exceptional women as well as couples, families and organizations could replace the cold concrete surround of the building. Plaques and stand-alone cases could exhibit additional information. These features would be available for viewing seven days a week.

The fate of the building is yet to be determined by the City Council. Please stop by the museum at 445 C St. on Saturday or Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to find out how you can help retain it.

Mary Lee Thomson

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