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Sutter Street Revitalization - Preserving History

Graphics Will Reveal Folsom’s Rich History           

The Folsom Historic District Revitalization Project will include an exciting, comprehensive new signage and graphics program designed not only to guide visitors through the District, but also to tell the important and fascinating historical story of the site.   

A combination of signage types – including totems, interpretive signs, plaques, and embeds -- will be used to share Folsom’s rich history from the Gold Rush to the present.  The signage exhibits will convey themes of residential and commercial development, ethnic and cultural diversity, and transportation, all major factors that shaped the growth of the city. 

“Our history and our designated 98-block Historic District is what makes Folsom unique from other cities in the area,” says Candy Miller, chair of Folsom’s Historic District Commission.  “The new signage and totems will reveal interesting facts and tidbits that most residents don’t know.   

“For example, Folsom is the home of many firsts, including the first railroad, power plant and school of higher education.  And, many might be surprised to know that during the Gold Rush era Folsom had a large population of Chinese residents, second only to San Francisco.”           

Page & Turnbull, the project’s architects and historical preservationists, have partnered with the Folsom History Museum to meticulously research the Historic District’s people, buildings, events, artifacts, and other points of interest to ensure that the site’s history is preserved and honored.   

They identified six major historical “tales” that relay the most important events in Folsom’s history.  These include the History of Folsom, Chinatown, Pony Express, History of Sutter Street, Negro Bar, and Sacramento Valley Railroad/Folsom Rail Yard.  These tales will be supplemented with important key “messages,” conveying the names of key historic Folsom buildings or features, along with the date of their construction and, in some cases, of their demise.      

Five of the six major tales will be told through nine-foot-tall “totem” granite monoliths. The totems will feature historic photos and text and will be designed to be visible and easily readable to passers-by.   

One totem will be located on each block of Sutter Street and one will be sited on Leidesdorff Street, in relationship to the river, the park, and the plaza.  The totems have been strategically located according to their association with a particular place or cultural event.  

The sixth major story – Sacramento Valley Railroad/Folsom Rail Yard will be divided into many sub-stories due to its complexity, and told through the use of interpretive signs, interpretive plaques, and interpretive embeds.  Materials used for each of these elements will be chosen carefully to complement and respect the site’s history.  These stories will be located throughout the new plaza, the heart of the historic rail yard.    

In addition, existing historic sidewalk stamps and embeds have been identified at eleven sites within the district, including names of former businesses, contractors, and street address numbers.  Prior to new sidewalk construction, these stamped concrete and granite embeds will be carefully removed, protected during construction, and then replaced in their current locations throughout the district.  Two additional contractors’ concrete stamps will be specified for the project, one at each end of Sutter Street in the 600 and 900 blocks.     

Wayfinding signage will be located throughout the district to help visitors navigate the historic terrain.  Starting at the Folsom History Museum (or at any location throughout the district), a combination of kiosks, pedestrian directional signs, and vehicular directional signs will allow visitors to tour the district at their own pace, learning as they go.


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