Historic Mariposa building featured in new phone book

Brian WilkinsonJanuary 2, 2013 

The first batch of more than 23,000 copies of the The 2013 Sierra Tel phone book were mailed to customers last week, a distribution process that is expected to take up to two weeks. In addition to Oakhurst, the 539 page book covers Yosemite, Fish Camp, Bass Lake, North Fork, Ahwahnee, Coarsegold, Raymond, O'Neals, Cathy's Valley, Coulterville and Mariposa.

The book includes emergency numbers, government representatives, Sierra Tel service options such as voice mail and caller ID, maps, calendar of events, school numbers, senior and emergency services and 336 yellow pages.

The phone book cover features the artwork of a 16 x 32-foot mural that adorned the exterior of a 134 year-old building on the corner of Highway 140 and Fifth Street in Mariposa before a May 11 fire destroyed the building and the four year-old mural. The historic building housed the Pizza Factory, Mariposa County Arts Council, a book store, and coffee, coin and yarn shops.

The original building was constructed in 1858 as two brick structures. The south structure served as George Etly's Express Drug Store and the Wells Fargo Agency, while the north structure housed Simon Wormser's hardware store. In 1866, both structures were damaged by a fire that devastated downtown Mariposa, destroying 63 buildings. Over the years, the north structure saw many other uses, including a bakery and restaurant operated by Ernest Shainfield beginning in 1872. The complete history of the once iconic building is on the inside back cover of the phone book.

The artist who created the mural in 2008 was Colleen Goodwin-Chronister.

Mariposa artist and Sierra Star columnist ("How Art Shapes Our lives") Sal Maccarone is reproducing the original mural that will once again be placed on the exterior wall of the Pizza Factory. Maccarone reproduced the mural at his home, painting 16, 4 x 8 foot panels. Like a big jig-saw puzzel, the pieces will seamlessly fit together on the building wall, once again welcoming people as they drive into town and on to Yosemite.

The new 8,500 square-foot building, including the 3,700 square-foot Pizza Factory, is being built by Mariposa contractor Dave Gerken, owner of Alpine Builders, and is expected to be completed by early May.

Ron Wiley, building and Mariposa Pizza Factory owner, was a long time partner and Pizza Factory franchise co-founder and owner with former Oakhurst resident Danny Wheeler.

In 1981 Ron and his wife Joyce opened the Red Devil Pizza, but later changed it to what people have known for years as the Pizza Factory. For the past 30-plus years the restaurant was a popular destination for post-football game gatherings, the lunch crowd and countless "pizza nights." Walls were adorned with Mariposa High School Grizzlies sports memorabilia and Wiley plans on recreating the same friendly atmosphere.

"The whole idea is when people walk into the Pizza Factory, it will be like we never left,: Wiley said.

Wiley, who commissioned the first and the second murals, said after the initial shock of the fire, he is now exited to see the building coming back.

"The people of Mariposa have been so wonderful to us," Wiley said. "I am using all the Mariposa people as possible, along with some from Oakhurst, to rebuild the building. Sal is a great artist and I'm excited to have him be the one to recreate the mural for the exterior of the building."

Maccarone crafted a custom door for Willey's business that was salvaged from the fire and is being restored by Maccarone for the new building.

For inspiration when painting the original mural, Goodwin-Chronister conducted extensive research and examined photographs provided by Mariposa historian Leroy Radanovich.

"I designed the Mariposa mural knowing it would be the very first thing visitors would see coming into town ... but which they could only see for 30 seconds," Goodwin-Chronister said. "First, I wanted the Mariposa mural to have a vivid montage effect, yet still be distinctly Mariposa, so the visual elements I chose for the mural came from Mariposa's own history. Starting with the name of the city itself, 'Mariposa,' which means 'butterfly."

The artist also wanted the mural to show a bit of its regional roots and geography, selecting images of a Miwok native and Yosemite Falls. And finally, she highlighted a bit of history in the Mariposa Mural, selecting images of a gold panner and the town's historic courthouse.

Debbie Peters, customer service manager for Sierra Telephone, said the telephone directory is a source of pride for her company.

"Each year we choose an image of an event or landmark of one our our communities that we serve, and we try to alternate between Madera and Mariposa counties. Sierra Tel is proud to be a part of these great communities. We are pleased to have the opportunity to honor both Mariposa's historic building and the mural on this year's telephone book."

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