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Modesto celebrates architecture with annual festival
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The Modesto Architecture Festival will feature panorama photos, including this one of Eddie's Drive-in, photographed by Oscar Mayo in the 1930s. - photo by Photo Contributed

The American Institute of Architects, Sierra Valley Chapter and the Modesto Art Museum are hosting the 8th annual Modesto Architecture Festival, starting Saturday and continuing through Sept. 20.

The week will feature special exhibits, guided and self-guided walking tours  of Modesto’s architecture, driving tours, family activities, and an evening of architecture films at the art deco State Theatre on Sept. 18.

The Family Architecture Experience/Kid’s Workshop will be at the main branch of the Stanislaus County Library, at 1500 I Street, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 19. The event will feature crafts, games, and activities for children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


The feature exhibit this year, hosted by the McHenry Museum and the Modesto Art Museum, is a collection of 12 never-seen-before panorama photographs of downtown Modesto. The large format negatives, more than three feet long and a foot wide, were exposed more than 80 years by Modesto photographer Oscar Mayo. They had never been printed until now. The photos show whole blocks of downtown Modesto alive with shoppers and cars. The photos are especially important now that some of the old buildings are having their facades restored. They depict what the buildings looked like before they were covered in stucco. The exhibit is open at the McHenry Museum everyday but Monday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission, as with all festival events, is free.


The festival mission is to celebrate architecture, landscape, public art, and urban design, and heighten awareness of the value of architects and designers in creating more livable and beautiful communities.

In February of this year, the American Institute of Architects presented the Sierra Valley Chapter its National Excellence Award for the Modesto festival, calling it “not just educational but also exciting, inspirational, and a whole lot of fun.” In 2014, more than 5,000 people participated in the festival.