Fender’s shop among buildings Fullerton marks historic

Posted on November 10, 2010

The building where Leo Fender created his electric guitars, along with three other buildings, are now designated historical landmarks in Fullerton.

“After the war (WWII), everyone wanted to be successful,” said Steve Ellingson, the owner of what was once the Fender Radio Shop. “It was a fresh start for everyone – Fender was a part of that.”

Clarence Leo Fender, known as a leading figure in the progress of electric instruments in the 20th Century, developed one of the first commercially successful electric guitars in a small and inconspicuous building in Fullerton where he ran a radio repair shop.

“I have a lot of respect for what Leo Fender did,” Ellingson said. “We need to encourage that more.”

Ellingson said he is very proud to be the owner of a historical landmark.

Currently, the building at 107 S. Harbor Blvd., houses Ellingson Inc. where aerospace parts are manufactured. Even before the landmark status, Ellingson had students and tourists coming by to see the building, he said.

“It’s about developing pride in your city,” Ellingson said of protecting historically significant buildings. “Speaking for myself, it’s important to stay connected with where we live.”

The building was also home to the Fullerton Daily Tribune, the county’s longest running daily paper until it was sold to the Orange County Register.

In addition to being a historical landmark, the city has set aside money to place a mural on the back of the building to commemorate the site. An application has also been sent out for the building to receive national recognition.

Three other Fullerton buildings were recently named historical landmarks by the city:

•343 E. Santa Fe Ave. – voted to be a historic landmark for being the only example of a building constructed to serve the needs of Fullerton’s booming oil industry. Now, the building is used for Lakeman Chassis, where older vehicles are restored.

•125 W. Santa Fe Ave. – a building doesn’t need historical significance to become a historical landmark, which is why this building was chosen for its architectural significance. The building is a prime example of a typical 1920s brick commercial structure. Heroes Bar and Grill currently occupies the building.

•800 N. Grandview Ave. – this residential building was chosen to be a landmark for its historic association with Carrie Earl McFadden Ford, one of Fullerton’s most philanthropic residents.

The buildings were nominated by Fullerton Heritage on behalf of the property owners, according to a city staff report, and approved as historical landmarks by the City Council last month.

Originally published in the Orange County Register.

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