LOCATION: Tuolumne County, California
CLIENT: ESA and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
DATE COMPLETED: April 2012
Moccasin is a small company town of approximately 300 residents in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in rural Tuolumne County, California. It was built during the late 'Teens and early 1920s for employees of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) working on the construction and the operation of the mighty Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct, in particular the Moccasin Powerhouse, which harnesses 620 second feet of water with a drop of 1,315 feet. The village, which consists of a large hydroelectric powerhouse, an industrial district of warehouses and shops, as well as four separate clusters of workers' cottages, is possibly California's last remaining intact company town.
In early 2012, VerPlanck Historic Preservation Consulting contracted with ESA (the lead consultant) to survey and research the entire village of Moccasin, prepare Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) 523 Forms for every building, structure, and landscape feature in Moccasin (including District forms for each of the four clusters of historic cottages) and a Historic Context Statement explaining the origins, construction, and subsequent development of Moccasin from 1914 until the present day.
VerPlanck identified a compact historic district comprising the administrative core of Moccasin as well as three of the four historic cottage groupings. We concluded that the district appeared eligible for listing in the National Register under Criteria A (Events) and C (Design/Construction) as a very well-preserved example of a company town built by a public agency in California during the early twentieth century. It also appears eligible as a concentration of architecturally significant industrial, administrative, and residential buildings designed by architect Henry A. Minton in the Mission Revival and Craftsman styles. The SFPUC commissioned the study in anticipation of completing several million dollars of improvements to the Hetch Hetchy system.