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This Place Matters: Celebrating National Preservation Month

On May 2, 2018, the Norco City Council presented a proclamation recognizing May as National Preservation Month, accepted by members of the City’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Lake Norconian Club Foundation (LNCF).

National Preservation Month, co-sponsored by the City of Norco and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has adopted the theme of “This Place Matters,” a reference to the critical role of history in our society and the value for communities to celebrate and preserve their heritage.

Matt Potter, Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, emphasizes the need for communities to safeguard historic landmarks. “Historic sites and buildings are worth preserving because they are tangible reminders of a city's culture and complexity that make an impression on people in ways that a history text or video cannot,” he says. “How much poorer would we be as Americans if we could not walk in the door of Independence Hall and picture our founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence?,” asks Potter. Insisting this is equally true on the local level, the Commission Chair states, “Our hometown sites and stories impact us all on a very personal level.”

For its size, there are few cities in the United States that have as rich a history as Norco, and even fewer that have buildings like the Lake Norconian Club hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Thanks to the advocacy of the City of Norco, the former resort has been further nominated for the National Register based on its service as a U.S. Navy Hospital during World War II and its role as the Naval Surface Warfare Center during the Cold War. The nomination is currently moving forward after receiving a unanimous vote of approval by the State Historic Resources Commission.

Bill Wilkman, the City’s Cultural Resources Consultant, suggests that for a small community, Norco has a remarkable history. The consultant explains, “The Norconian is one of Norco's most visible and impressive historic resources, but important remnants of Norco's past survive throughout the City.” Noting that architectural grandeur and historic value should not be confused, Wilkman explains, “Those who think history is only told in impressive buildings and opulent monuments will miss much of what tells the story of Norco's heritage.” He maintains the City’s history is told through tiny ranch houses, remnants of its original village center and the Community Center that once served as Norco's first public school.

The Historic Preservation Commission has created a Heritage Room at the Community Center (3900 Acacia Avenue) with public hours on the second Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., coinciding with the Norco Farmers Market. Residents are urged to stop by and discover their community’s history. If you are a history buff and would like to volunteer, or if you have some vintage photos or artifacts in your garage, contact the City of Norco Economic Development Department at (951) 270-5644 or econdev@ci.norco.ca.us.

And always remember: this place matters!