GSA: John E. Moss Federal Building Meets Historic Listing Criteria

1962 photo of 650 Capitol Mall by renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman via getty.edu

A report from the General Services Administration (GSA) dated August 2018, determined that the John E. Moss Federal Building— located at 650 Capitol Mall in Sacramento — “meets National Register of Historic Places Criterion A and C, when evaluated within a local, state, and national context.”

The 71-page report, titled “650 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA Determination of Eligibility,” written by Architectural Resources Group (ARG), provided a thorough, thoughtful, and detailed account of the building’s history and context.

December 1959 AIA Journal, “Federal Buildings 1960,” by J Roland Snyder. Via NCMH Colossus Architecture Magazine Archive

650 Capitol Mall was originally completed in 1961 and collaboratively designed by a group of important Sacramento architects: Harry J. Devine, Herbert E. Goodpastor, Albert Dreyfuss, Raymond R. Franceschi, and the firm of Kenneth C. Rickey & Fred E. Brooks.

According to the report, 650 Capitol Mall is eligible for listing under both
National Register Criterion A (Associated with Significant Events) and National Register Criterion C (Architectural Significance). The report concluded: “The John E. Moss Federal Building at 650 Capitol Mall is significant under Criterion A for association with the redevelopment of Sacramento’s West End in the last half of the 20th Century. The building is also notable under Criterion C as a local example of an International/Corporate Modern style building.”

Photo of 650 Capitol Mall courtesy of the State of California

Our thanks to GSA and ARG for their final analysis and report. Additional thanks to the City of Sacramento’s Preservation Director and Preservation Commission, and the California State Office of Historic Preservation for their interest and involvement.

GSA’s report will inform future evaluations pertaining to the building — as well as future evaluations involving Capitol Mall.  Also, the report highlights the work of important mid-20th century architects from Sacramento such as Harry J. Devine, Herbert E. Goodpastor, Albert Dreyfuss, Raymond R. Franceschi, and the firm of Rickey & Brooks.

Historic Mercury Cleaners Neon Sign Reinstalled!

Video courtesy of Roberta Deering

On June 26, 2015, the historic Mercury Cleaners Neon Sign (circa 1946-47) was returned to 16th Street near O Street in Sacramento. SacMod was happy to be invited to participate in the relighting ceremony! The sign and business were integrated across the street from their original location and into the new Legado de Ravel Apartments complex. 

Hats off to:

CADA for understanding the importance and relevance of the Mercury Cleaners sign and working so hard to return it to 16th Street;

• To Pacific Neon for their skilled renovation;

• To all who helped behind the scenes on this project — many individuals and organizations were involved.

Our City’s historic neon signs are cultural artifacts and landmarks. They are handmade works of art. They provide a sense of place and tell the story of our city’s past.

Unfortunately, we’ve been losing them at an alarming rate. There used to be thousands — and now there are only around 100. They are lost to disrepair, abandonment, and redevelopment.

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