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The Mitchell Block Is Like a Walk Down Memory Lane

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dear Street Smart:

Just before the California Street offramp on the northbound side of the Ventura Freeway, there is a sign that tells drivers that the Old Courthouse building is just ahead. But the light brown sign also talks about the historic Mitchell Block in downtown Ventura.

I have lived here for almost a year, but I have never heard of the historic Mitchell Block. Who was Mitchell? Where is the block? And what is its historical significance?

Liz Neely

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Ventura

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Dear Reader:

The stretch of Thompson Boulevard known as the Mitchell Block takes its name from three Irish brothers who immigrated to Ventura in the 1870s, says Merle Oberg, a docent at the Ventura County Museum of History and Art.

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It is located on the south side of Thompson Boulevard between Chestnut and Fir streets.

“It’s a string of old houses built between the 1870s and the 1920s,” Oberg said. “There are eight of them representing a variety of architectural styles.”

Soon after arriving in San Buenaventura, the three Mitchell brothers opened a commercial brickyard near the historic mission.

They apparently became quite successful and purchased the entire block across from Plaza Park in 1883. They and their family members and descendants lived in several of the homes into the latter half of this century.

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These days, the string of homes is owned by several private parties, but they still draw interest from visitors and historians alike.

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Dear Street Smart:

There is a dangerous situation on the Conejo Grade portion of the Ventura Freeway going north to Camarillo.

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During the rainy season, a few of the white buttons and some of the white-stripe lane markings are about gone. They blend into the wet pavement and you cannot see the lanes.

We need new and reflective striping.

It is really scary, as you cannot see the different lanes. Thank you for your kind attention in this matter.

Elma Goldberg

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Camarillo

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Dear Reader:

According to those whose job it is to maintain the state highways and byways, Caltrans maintenance crews routinely check lane stripings to make sure they have not lost their shine.

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“There’s a routine inspection done by our special crews,” said Dave Servaes, the Caltrans regional manager for Ventura County. “It’s something that we would check periodically.”

Servaes said the bumps and lane stripings do wear out after several years and that he will dispatch an inspection crew to check the condition of the lane stripes along that section of the freeway.

“If it’s identified that there are more [bumps] missing than is acceptable, then we will take care of it,” he said.

By the way, the stripes are marked with a mixture of paint and beads of glass, which give the compound its reflective quality.

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“But when they lose their luster, then they’re scheduled for restriping,” Servaes said.

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Dear Street Smart:

In my three years as a student at Rio Mesa High School, I have always taken the same route to school.

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In early October, I was inconvenienced, supposedly until late December, while construction was taking place between Central and Los Angeles avenues, a piece of road integral to my travel to Rio Mesa.

When I returned from winter break in January, expecting to be able to return to my usual route, I was dismayed to find that completion had been delayed until Feb. 29.

Since then there have been three additional delays, to March 29, April 29 and May 29.

This scenario is blatantly disrespectful to the public. Although I have adjusted to my new path to school, whoever is in charge of the road repairs should get in gear.

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Why can’t the contractors finish the job they started and return the road to drivers? I sincerely hope it doesn’t take until October 1996 to see the road returned to drivable status.

Jeff Brunner

Camarillo

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Dear Reader:

By the time you read this, Santa Clara Road will again be open to traffic.

The road opened last Wednesday, although the $2-million flood-control project that prompted its closure for so many months will not be finished for another week or so, county officials said.

The project is designed to divert flood waters from the homes and fields around your neighborhood. As you may know, Ventura County has suffered severe flooding in recent years.

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Officials admit that the project is way behind schedule. But they blame conditions beyond their control: the weather.

“It rained once a week through the winter,” said Ed Gunen, a county engineer who worked on the flood-control project. “By the time the contractor thought the excavated dirt was ready for use, it rained again and got wet.

“With drier weather, it would have been done within two months,” he said.


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