American River College campus carries deep historical significance

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Michael Pacheco

Buildings on the American River College campus, including the James Kaneko Art Gallery, Raef Hall, the library (officially called the Kenneth D. Boettcher Library) and Davies Hall were named after some of the more influential people from the campus’ history.

By Adnan Ramic and Brittini Burns

As students pass through the buildings of the American River College campus, few may pay attention to the architecture or historical significance of these structures.

Berlyn Dunning, English major, stated she didn’t know much about ARC’s history.

“I know the school’s been here a long time,” said Dunning.

According to the ARC website, the school’s history dates back to 1942. Grant Technical School was formed in Del Paso Heights and served as a training center for civilians during World War II.  After the closing of GTS 13 years later, the American River Junior College District was created in 1955.

Classes were held at GTS for three years until the purchase of Cameron Ranch, a 153 acre site, which would become the new American River campus. In 1965 the school’s name was officially changed to American River College after it was added to the Los Rios School District.

The buildings and structures on campus also have an extensive history behind them. Rose Marks Pavilion, originally built in 1980, was recently removed and the space planned for renovated. It was funded through a gift from the former English professor’s husband, Sid.

Raef Hall received its namesake from former Dean of Women, Doris Raef. The building was dedicated to her in memory because it was almost finished by the time of her death in 1962.

Originally designed in 1964 and completed in 1967, Davies Hall was formerly home to ARC’s main classrooms and offices. This building received its name from Evan W. Davies, a former Board of Trustees member.

Believe it or not, the actual name of the library is the Kenneth D. Boettcher LIbrary, according to the ARC website. It was named on Nov. 8, 1978, after a former president/superintendent of ARC, when the school was still known as American River Junior College.

Dr. Bill J. Priest was the first president of ARJC from 1955 to 1964. The administration building was completed and named after Priest in 1958. Priest became the first superintendent of the Los Rios College District in 1964, and retired in 1981.

James Kaneko, who died in 1999, was an artist recognized for his ceramics medium and his help in developing an ARC art gallery. For ARC’s 40th anniversary, Kaneko designed and tiled a mural for the college cafeteria. In 2001, the art gallery was officially renamed the James Kaneko Art Gallery.