Merced County Times Newspaper
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Livingston celebrates its 100th anniversary


Atwater has received a lot of attention in recent days for its centennial events; however, there’s another nearby city that is also celebrating a 100th anniversary.

This year, Livingston turned 100, and last Sunday, hundreds of local residents gathered on Main Street in front of the Livingston Historical Museum to remember the early days and how the town grew to what it is today.

“This is a big day,” said Babs Ratzlaff of the local Historical Society. “The City of Livingston has so much history, and we want to share it with everyone.”

The Historical Museum was the center of attention during the gathering. City officials led by Mayor Juan Aguilar unveiled a new Centennial Plaque near the entrance to the building as the Livingston High School Band played from the middle of Main Street.

Sunday also marked the 9-11 Remembrance and Police Chaplain Michael Outten gave an invocation and led a moment of silence for those who lost their lives that tragic day in 2001.

Special guests to the event included Merced County Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza, members of the Livingston City Council, members of the Livingston Historical Society, Recreation Superintendent Jacquelyn Benoit, and the city’s newly hired Police Chief Chuck Hale.

Russell Winton, a longtime resident and a grandson of an early settler, gave a rousing account of local history, particularly of the efforts taken to create and develop the Historical Museum. Afterward, residents were invited into the museum to see the work that has been done, as well as enjoy a BBQ chicken dinner provided by Foster Farms and served up by local FFA students.

The museum will be taking time capsule items until Dec. 31, and they will be buried after the first of the year. New modernization at the museum include the Oral History Project, the Centennial Guidebook project, and the digitization of the Livingston Chronicle — all supported by UC Merced faculty and staff, museum volunteers and generous local supporters.

The city’s Historical Museum is quite impressive, and jam-packed with artifacts, displays and exhibits. The brick building was originally opened in 1922 as a County Library and Justice Court. Then California Governor William D. Stephens attended the groundbreaking ceremony. Today, the museum shares the many stories of Livingston, including the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. Many of those residents affected worked in the fields in and around Livingston.

The museum features many fascination items, including an early telephone operator’s station. Livingston had its own telephone company going back to the 1940s. There are also black and white photographs depicting a local visit by Governor Earl Warren in 1950. Warren was eventually appointed to Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

Livingston was incorporated in 1922 with Charles Ottman as its first mayor. According to the city’s website, agriculture has been its primary industry. The local grape and wine industry has achieved worldwide prominence, along with the sweet potato and almond industries. Livingston is the world headquarters for Foster Farms and has the largest chicken slaughter house and processing plant in the world within the city limits. The city is also known for its diversity of citizens, including Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans, Portuguese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Punjabi Americans.

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