gmhTODAY 18 gmhToday Feb March 2018 - Page 54

A Walk Back in Time… Gilroy's Rich History on Monterey Road he Gilroy Historical Society offers a tour of historical sites nine times a year. They are on the first Saturday of the month and usually last two plus hours. Each tour is different: for example, January is Monterey (Downtown) Street, March is Women’s History Tour and November is Old St Mary Cemetery. For the complete schedule go to Gilroy Historical Society On this particular Saturday morning, fourteen of us joined Connie Rogers at the Gilroy Museum on Fifth Street. We proceeded down to the corner of Fifth and Monterey where the actual tour began. One thing became obvious. There is a ton of historical material along Monterey Street. The Gilroy Museum has a walking tour booklet that references 48 buildings between Fourth and Sixth Streets. Connie also had several pages from the Historic Registrar, City of Gilroy. Around 1986 the City of Gilroy commissioned the firm of Bonnie L. Bamberg to do a survey of historical sites. The study documents information on over 600 sites and buildings in Gilroy. Connie and her magic book kept all enthralled with significant and, sometimes, less-so historical facts. Walking the downtown with an historical eye one notices interesting and beautiful details. The black glazed tiles, glass blocks, medallions, shields, and carvings missed as we hurry about our business. These interesting details are everywhere…one only has to look for them! We walked down the west side of Monterey Street to Seventh where we crossed to the Train Station on the east side. The tour proceeded up the east side to the old Strand Theater just before Fourth Street. So many sites have fascinating stories old and new. For example, the soon to be Golden State Brewery at 7562 Monterey Street started out as The Elks Lodge upstairs and a furniture store downstairs. It was built by William Radtke in 1928. The building was built on the site of the Piedmont Hotel. Afte r the Elks moved out it had several lives before it became the Ford’s Department Store, which was the oldest mercantile business and department store chain in California. The 1989 earthquake severely damaged the Ford’s Department Store empire and before long the Gilroy Ford’s closed. Since then it has gone through several owners. Most recently it has been a gym and fitness center. A lot of history and stories for one building! Another point on the history of the downtown and Gilroy in general are the multiple reminders of that history. The Paseo between Fifth and Sixth hosts seven panels on the history of Gilroy. A stroll down Monterey Street notes the presence of 54 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN numerous plaques placed by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association and the Gilroy Historical Society. These markers highlight some essential facts about the building. One marker on the side of the Gilroy Antiques shop commemorates it as the offices of the Chesbro Doctors. Below it someone has mounted a fun-loving plaque: “On this site in 1897 nothing happened.” Monterey Street has an active history and hopefully a vibrant future that respects that history. A special thanks to the Gilroy Historical Society in general and to our tour guide, Connie Rogers, in particular, for all their work to keep this historical perspective alive. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 REGISTRAR T Written By Larry J. Mickartz