One of the major events of the 75th anniversary Grapes of Wrath celebration was the art exhibition and home tour called "Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1930's." Guest curated by David Coffey, a member of Arts and Humanities' Executive Advisory Committee, this exhibition drew top architectural historians from around the state to discuss topics such as the Works Progress Administration buildings erected during the Depression, surprising gems of commercial and domestic Modernist buildings in our midst, and the Modern Adobe Residence, largely built by Bakersfield's own Clarence Cullimore.
I've always admired the elegant adobe house in my neighborhood at 101 Oleander Street, so I was surprised to get a call last summer from David saying that Clarence Cullimore Jr. had died in April and the family was planning an estate sale of his and his father's effects.
The orginal family home since 1910 was a modest bungalow just down the street from where the beautiful adobe was built two decades later. In the backyard, on several folding tables under canvas canopies, were laid out heaps of architectural drawings, blueprints, and other materials, gathering dust. We were stunned. There were boxes of pristine copies of Cullimore Sr.'s books, Santa Barbara Adobes (1948) and Old Adobes of Forgotten Fort Tejon (1949), as well as their never used dust jackets. Inside of well-traveled suitcases were trays full of glass slides, the visual souvenirs of Cullimore Sr.'s trips to Europe and Asia early in the last century. Many of these artifacts made it into the exhibition at the Todd Madigan Gallery, including the suitcases.
David transported some forty boxes of archival materials to the showroom of his office furniture store, Modern Office Environments, in downtown Bakersfield. He brought in architectural historians Barbara Lamprecht and Sian Winship to select materials for the exhibition along with seven Bakersfield landmarks for the home tour, which included the modern adobe that that Cullimore built as the family home in 1930.
Of the dozens of guests who attended the symposium and home tour in October, perhaps the most enthusiastic was Holliday Cullimore, daughter of Clarence Cullimore Jr., and granddaughter of Clarence Cullimore Sr. When it came time for the family to decide where to donate the Cullimore materials, the leading contender was Cullimore Sr.'s alma mater, the University of Southern California. However, thanks to the appreciation shown for the family's legacy by the organizers of the Bakersfield Built exhibition, the Public History Institute, Dean of the Library, Curt Asher, and archivist Chris Livingston, the Cullimore Collection now resides in CSUB's newly opened Historical Research Center, which supports the idea that archival preservation and undergraduate and graduate research are integral parts of CSUB's academic mission.
Holliday Cullimore says she is "thrilled." And so am I.
Dr. Robert Frakes
Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities