Bakersfield is a town with such distinct character and charisma that it pains me to see that the new federal courthouse opening as part of the Mill Creek project is yet another midcentury concrete box.
Downtown Bakersfield holds an enormity of character and complexity in its buildings, from the beautiful Padre Hotel to the majestic Fox Theater. These buildings hark back to an era when the exterior of a building reflected the city and attitude of the people who called it home.
When out-of-towners come to visit, I take them for lunch to the Padre because I feel pride in civic ownership. The Padre reflects a version and history of Bakersfield I love. Compare this local architectural beauty with the sky-blocking county courthouse at Truxtun and Chester avenues. It is a concrete eyesore that yells to any passer-by, "This is a government building. Dreams come here to die." I challenge anyone to point to it and say with a straight face, "My God, that building is inspiring."
Hence, it was with great hope that I first saw that the federal courthouse would be part of downtown's renovation and with a crestfallen heart that I see its finished product. I urge the town planners to consider a well-reasoned aesthetic plan going forward for Bakersfield. We are not a town of concrete boxes. We are a town of agricultural beauty, of Western manifest destiny and the American spirit of hard work. Give us public buildings that reflect it.