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City Council votes on giving Woolworth historical recognition

"It has this nostalgic look.”
Woolworth's Building, Bakersfield (FILE)
Posted at 5:18 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 21:29:57-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — You feel the mid-century magic the second you step inside the streamlined walls. The Coca-Cola signs make you feel like you’re in the middle of a ‘50s or '60s movie and some movies set in that time period have been shot there.

Now, an effort is underway to give Woolworth’s historical recognition by the City of Bakersfield through a cultural resource designation.

It will all depend on a majority vote from the City Council.

“The last big project we did here was Carol of the Bells. We had RJ Mitte, who starred in ‘Breaking Bad’, he played Bryan Cranson’s son. He was sitting right there, doing a scene,” said Dale Oprandy, Executive Director of Inclusion Films.

The walls whisper the tales of mid-century americana. Woolworth Diner opened in 1950 as a department store and luncheonette, but since then it’s become so much more, not just for Hollywood legends.

Woolworth's Luncheonette, Bakersfield (FILE)
File image of the Woolworth's Luncheonette in Bakersfield, Calif.

Oprandy is the Executive Director of Inclusion Films, a Bakersfield-based production company where people with special needs are both the stars and the filmmakers.

The Woolworth building has brought their films to life five times.

“We used the Woolworth sign out front, and one of the films was supposed to take place during Christmas time. We had Christmas trees out front, we had an old-style sixties woman with a belle. What’s really wonderful about Bakersfield, is that it has this nostalgic look.”

It’s that nostalgic look, that CEO of Moneywise Guys Sherod Waite, hopes City Council will take into consideration at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

Woolworth's Luncheonette, Bakersfield (FILE)
File image of the Woolworth's Luncheonette sign in Bakersfield, Calif.

That’s when a majority vote could grant the Woolworth building a cultural resource designation.

Historically preserving in the books, a setting for many personal stories.

“My mom actually came here when she was pregnant with me. So, I feel like some of my DNA is in this place, you know? But I have people coming up to me all the time and sharing some story of coming here with their grandparents or coming here with their parents.”

Waite said this is the last operating Woolworth luncheonette in the entire world. It even has the original counter, but that’s not that’s not the only thing City Council is considering for this historic designation: there’s that “mid-century modern style”.

Woolworth's Luncheonette, Bakersfield (FILE)
File image of the Woolworth's Luncheonette in Bakersfield, Calif.

“It has these features that’s mid-century modern—esque. Modern type features that they just don't make anymore, and it's one of the few buildings that survived that happened in the early '50s.

Moneywise is currently renovating Woolworth while planning to keep the integrity of the building's origins.

They’ll reopen the dining area, make the retail space a place public market hall for local vendors, and the basement an event space.

There is no set date for reopening at this time.