The "Old City Hall Gardens" are located at two historic buildings built by: 1) the Confidence Engine Company #1 (1860), & 2) Jane Johnson from Carthage, Illinois (1859). The Placerville City government made the Confidence Building (1907) and the Johnson Building (1957) their home until 2009. The community affectionately refers to these historic icons as the "Ketchup & Mustard Buildings."
Gardens of Old City Hall include four distinctively different gardens: 1) the historic clock in front of the public restrooms, 2) Sheriff Joseph Staples monument & raised-bed planters made of natural stone, 3) fern & fairy garden along Hangtown Creek, 3) rear entrance to Old City hall planter boxes & 4) ED County Courthouse alley with boxwood and conifers tucked beneath the Johnson Building stairwell. These gardens were established by Helen Ramstad, Keith & Josette Johnson. They include assorted ferns, bulbs, low growth conifers, Flameglow & Laceleaf maples, dogwood trees, & more.
Community volunteer Fred Vindler is presently working with Community Pride member Josette Johnson to restore the aging and decaying buildings and planters. Both rock and brick planter boxes will be repaired. The boxwood hedge behind the Johnson Building will be trimmed and invasive Boston Ivy removed. The Alberta Spruce behind the Confience Engine Buildingwill be enhanced with reestablishment of Baby Tears, Wood violets, & Mondo grass.
The " River of Gold '' Ore Cart project is located on the north side of Highway 50 & Bedford Avenue, inviting visitors to the abandoned gold/silver mine at Gold Bug Park. During the late 1800's, the residential neighborhood above the Ore Cart sprung up as downtown merchants filled the Hangtown Creek Watershed / canyon with cottages and Victorian mansions near their storefronts in Downtown Placerville.
The creation of the Ore Cart Garden was one of the first projects of Community Pride members in 1990. Carol Patton & Rich Zito designed the landscape & irrigation plans. Kathi Lishman continues to care for this project through thick & thin; Caltrans Improvement Project required the removal of the entire ore cart project in 2010. To date, the Ore Cart Garden is being restored, still again under the watchful eyes of Kathi! Restoration efforts are to be funded by Caltrans mitigation monies from Highway Improvement Project(s). Future plans include blue marble chips to represent river rock. Vegetation will include crabapple trees with colorful drought-tolerant flowers to line the "River of Gold."
The Chamber of Commerce building was originally the Kossuth House Hotel, built by Reverend / Professor P. L. Platt in 1852. The building was purchased by El Dorado County after WW II and became the American Legion Post #199. In 1923, it was dedicated to El Dorado County's "sons & daughters " who died in defense of their country.
Community Pride member Christine Theil is responsible for this garden. Blue Spruce, red camellias, sweet violets and other colorful groundcovers serve to welcome visitors to historic El Dorado County's Chamber of Commerce.
This area dates back to historic “Old Hangtown” when locals referred to the intersection of Bedford & Main Street as “Stoney Point,” a well-known reference point in the streetscape of Placerville. The term likely came from natural rock exposed by movement along the Melones Fault zone. In 1926, the property was gifted to the City of Placerville for the sole purpose of “use & enjoyment of the citizens of Placerville.” The Native sons erected a small museum which housed the Concord Coach, later moved to the El Dorado County Historical Museum. In 1865, a bell was purchased to hang in the Bell Tower. Used as a “battle call” against dreaded fire danger, the bell developed a crack. After several attempts at repair, the bell was finally retired and eventually moved to the front of the existing District Attorney’s Office. Adopted by Community Pride Committee in 1990, the project area became known as the "Bell at Bedford” project. Steve Pace & Dennis Colbath maintained the project until the Caltrans improvements required the removal of the bell, its walls, gardens, & amenities.
The Monument Garden Project area is presently slated for Caltrans Mitigation Funding. Restoration of this public space will make the historic bell available to the community again. Raised-bed planters & benches, along with colorful, low-water landscape, will create a peaceful site to pay homage to local veterans. A monument will be erected to house the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Plaques; once located in downtown Placerville until the street trees became diseased and died. Unfortunately, the $30,000 allocation for Caltrans’ environmental and cultural mitigation has just barely covered the engineering and landscape design process. The project is presently unfunded. Fundraising efforts are in progress. Your donations will help fund the following: 1) Vietnam Memorial Monument, 2) Reinstallation of historic bell, 3) Colorful, low-water landscape , 4) Raised-bed planters & benches , and 5) Night - lighting.