Two weeks and about 4,500 miles later, Blaise and I have limped across the finish line to Los Angeles, exhausted and glad to be home. But in between Portland and here, we made one final stop: Blaise’s hometown of Davis, California.
After two weeks of exploring brand-new places together, it felt nice to be back in familiar territory. While we spent a good deal of time recovering from our drive (there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal and a place to wash your clothes), we also spent some time downtown. And as we were walking around, Blaise, inspired by our two weeks of exploring historic sites, pointed out some of the older buildings in his own turf -- buildings I’ve walked by many times before, but never really studied.
For example, there’s the beautiful National Register-listed train depot on the outskirts of downtown, which was built by Southern Pacific in 1913. Or the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion, a c. 1875 Italianate house built for the town’s first postmaster. Today, the National Register-listed building houses the city’s visitor’s center.
Two doors down, there’s the Varsity Theatre, a Streamline Moderne structure that opened its doors in 1950. It’s been through a couple rounds of renovations throughout the years, but the neon lights still lure people in to catch the latest independent films.
Then there’s the 1938 City Hall, a Spanish Colonial Revival building that has lived many lives: After it served as City Hall, it became home to the fire department, and later the police department. In 2005, it was turned into a restaurant, Bistro 33; last year, City Tavern, an airy bar, opened in the space as well.
Talking about these buildings with Blaise’s family unearthed a lot of memories, and they began telling me about other historic sites around town that I’ll be sure to check out next time I’m there. For example, there's the Lincoln Highway Marker in Central Park, designating a place where U.S. 40, the first highway connecting New York to San Francisco, passed through Davis. And there are also many older buildings on the UC Davis campus, like the 1909 Silo Union building, or Hart Hall, which was built in 1928 and housed the animal science department for 60 years.
If this trip taught me anything, it’s that history really is everywhere -- and one day in a new place is never enough to explore it all. But now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m excited to dig a little deeper into the historic sites we have here on the West Coast. Stay tuned!
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