The last time Manteca – and the rest of the United States – faced a major epidemic that had the potential of closing schools and quarantining victims was 102 years ago.
The severe influenza epidemic hit a peak of 202 deaths daily in the United States on Oct. 1, 1918.
Manteca’s first case was reported in October of 1918.
It prompted the Manteca City Council on Nov. 1, 1918 to pass an ordinance requiring everyone on city streets to wear a mask or face a $100 fine. Based on inflation since 1918, that would be the equivalent of imposing a $1,715 fine today,
All public gatherings were prohibited. Churches discontinued services. All schools in the county were closed.
The teachers at the original Yosemite School – where the Sequoia Annex now stands – turned their classrooms into hospital wards. They then stayed there 24 hours a day to care for the sick.
The city sent representatives to homes where entire families were stricken to check food and clothing supplies. All groceries, linen and clothing were supplied by the city.
There were 49 families quarantined by mid-November
Public gatherings returned as Christmas approached but then there was another outbreak prompting many businesses as well as schools to again close.
There were no new cases reported in February 1919.
There were only three deaths although half of the greater Manteca community had fallen ill.
Nationally, a fourth of the country’s population became sick with 500,000 dying.
After public meetings resumed, the City Council promptly addressed the need for a hospital. They voted to advertise throughout California to seek someone willing to build a hospital in Manteca.
The result was the construction of a hospital with 18 private rooms, two wards, an operating room and two bathrooms built at a cost of $25,000 on the southeast corner of West Yosemite and Sequoia avenues. The hospital was dedicated on Aug. 1, 1919. It closed 10 months later as there wasn’t enough of a patient base to keep it going.
Shortly after its closure, the hospital was converted into the Sequoia Apartments.
Hospital now serves
as home for HOPE
The hospital turned apartments was purchased in 1992 by the HOPE Ministries to establish their first family homeless shelter.
In 2011, the Manteca City Council made a $1.2 million performance loan to HOPE Family Shelters to modernize the building.
LDA Partners — a firm that counts East Union High grad Eric Wohle as an architect — to handle the renovation. The direction the city gave firm was simple: Keep the structure as close as possible to its original architectural, bring it up to code, make it energy efficient and low maintenance, plus make it a positive environment for homeless families that stay at the complex for two months at a time.
The building was taken down to its skeleton. Research prompted the installation of pillars for a grand entrance complete with a wrought iron fence to keep it with the architecture of the 1910s.
As a result the 101-year-old building stands as one of the two most prominent holdovers from around the time Manteca was incorporated as a city on May 28, 1918. The other is the 104-year-old IOOF Hall at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street that is now the Manteca Bedquarters.
The RDA investment assured that Manteca’s homeless families will have a shelter to turn to through at least 2066. If there is no default under loan conditions, the amount will be forgiven after 55 years of the signing of documents. That means the building must be used as a homeless shelter for the next 55 years.
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