RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> Anthony Gonzalez said he didn’t acquire a true love for historical buildings and landmarks until his involvement with Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles.
In the early ‘90s, Gonzalez served as El Pueblo director when many of the buildings there were damaged by an earthquake in 1994.
“It made me realize the importance of trying to maintain and keep these historical building so we can know where we came from,” he said.
It is that love that led him to in 2011 to begin efforts to save and restore a nearly 100-year-old gas station along Route 66.
Gonzalez lived in La Verne for most of his adolescence and moved out in college. He returned to the area in 1998 when he moved to his current home in Rancho Cucamonga.
As the president of Route 66 Inland Empire California, he is helping to spearhead efforts.
For the past year, he and group members have devoted many hours restoring the Cucamonga Service Station with the goal of reopening it next year as a museum.
In September, he was named president of Cucamonga Service Club, the governing body that oversees Sweeten Hall building in the 9000 block of San Bernardino Road.
In the past, Sweeten Hall served as the central location for gatherings and parties in the city. That was lost for years for various reasons.
His plan in the next year is to help restore the building so that it can once again be utilized by the community.
“These two endeavors are keeping me busy now,” said the 63-year-old who retired only three years ago.
Now he spends at least eight hours a day on either restoration projects, he said.
“I’m trying to rehabilitate the buildings, bring them back to its original state,” Gonzalez said.
– By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin