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1612 City Lofts, formerly known as the Hay Building, was built in 1893 and is the oldest building in downtown Bakersfield. The Dinkelspiel Family of San Francisco built it in Victorian motif, with a rooming house on the third floor above their general merchandise store. The 1899 city directory has the residential address of the “Dinkelspiel block” for people living in the same space as today’s 1612 City Lofts.

The Haberfelde Family purchased the building around 1896, selling furniture on the lower level, while continuing to operate the rooming house above.

The Hay family purchased the building in 1898. After WWI the building was remodeled to Federalist style and the rooming house was converted to office space. Many of Bakersfield’s most prominent businessmen had offices in the Hay Building. Several of the leading doctors, accountants, and lawyers of the early 20th century had offices on the 3rd floor, and the Hays operated their real estate, title and insurance businesses from this address until the 1990’s. The building featured the only human operated elevator still in use in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

Other businesses that have operated from this location over the past 100 years have included Wingate’s Printing and Office Supply, C.D. Oldershaw & Co., a grocery store, The Hub, Wall’s Hearing Aid Center, West End Cigar Shop, The Barber Shop, Phillip’s Music, and Peoples Finance.

Throughout the last 100 years there have been many changes to Bakersfield’s historic Downtown. The building escaped the great fires of 1898 and of 1919 that wiped out much of the Downtown Business District. It also survived the big earthquake of August 1952. The trembler caused damage to the rooftop parapet and portions of the decorative exterior facade, but the building remained intact. It was one of the few buildings in Downtown to stay open immediately after the quake. In 1953 the building was once again remodeled and reinforced for future earthquake preparedness.

In the late 1960s downtown residents and businesses across the nation migrated to the suburbs. In Bakersfield the regional Valley Plaza Mall lured many of Downtown’s largest retailers to the new shopping center. The construction of Cal State Bakersfield in the Southwest part of town caused the city to grow in that direction as well. For the next 25 years, Downtown Bakersfield became mostly empty store fronts and bargain shops.

Now, a new social paradigm is occurring. People are leaving the suburbs and seeking the experience and convenience of living downtown. The once proud building on the corner of 19th and Eye is being renovated back to its original use, becoming Bakersfield’s first mixed-use building in the 21st century. Returning to its roots as envisioned over 113 years ago… a space for living, working, shopping… in the center of a vibrant city.

City Lofts at 1612… urban living (once again) at its finest.