Public and Private Partners Draw Inspiration from a Factory’s Original Designer while Creating a Venue that Showcases WWII and Women’s History

Celebrating a Legacy

The Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center has held a couple Grand Opening and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. The most recent event, held in July 2014, celebrated a new exhibit installation and was attended by state, county and city leaders; many guests; and more than a dozen “Rosies” who were given seats of honor in the front rows. Among them was 85-year-old Rosie Cembura.

In an interview with Patch, Cembura noted she may have the same name but she wasn’t a riveter. “I was a painter in Yard 3, painting ships.” Cembura had just completed high school when she began supporting the war effort. She originally was assigned scrub work in the ship’s hold. She said her “skill and ability” helped her be reassigned to “more desirable finish work”.

Celebrating the Rosies who ultimately trailblazed a path for working women was a rewarding part of the Oil House transformation. “I think about what I do as an architect from time to time and it is satisfying to realize that not only do I get to have fun but I’m also doing something that affects people in a positive way,” Wong says. “When I look at the people who go through this place and work there it’s very satisfying to see how happy they are. In the visitor center, one of the NPS docents has said it is the best visitor center any of them has worked in by far. You can’t help but feel pleased that you’ve had the opportunity to be part of something like that.”

Where Did “Rosie the Riveter” Get Her Name?

In 1943, a song about women working to support the war effort, titled “Rosie the Riveter”, was released by Paramount Music Corp. The popularity of the song led to the well-known moniker for the era’s working women. Following are the song’s lyrics:

Rosie the RiveterWhile other girls attend their fav’rite
cocktail bar
Sipping Martinis, munching caviar
There’s a girl who’s really putting
them to shame
Rosie is her name

All the day long whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history, working for victory
Rosie the Riveter
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a
male will do
Rosie the Riveter

Rosie’s got a boyfriend, Charlie
Charlie, he’s a Marine
Rosie is protecting Charlie
Working overtime on the riveting machine
When they gave her a production “E”
She was as proud as a girl could be
There’s something true about
Red, white, and blue about
Rosie the Riveter

Everyone stops to admire the scene
Rosie at work on the B-Nineteen
She’s never twittery, nervous or jittery
Rosie the Riveter
What if she’s smeared full of oil and
Doing her bit for the old Lendlease
She keeps the gang around
They love to hang around
Rosie the Riveter

Rosie buys a lot of war bonds
That girl really has sense
Wishes she could purchase more bonds
Putting all her cash into national defense
Senator Jones who is “in the know”
Shouted these words on the radio
Berlin will hear about
Moscow will cheer about
Rosie the Riveter!

Online Buzz

View a video of the “Rosie the Riveter” song being sung and view Rosie in action.

Retrofit Team

Project Managing Architect // Kent Royle of Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects, Berkeley, Calif., and San Francisco
Lighting // Darrell Hawthorne of Architecture + Light, San Francisco
Structural Engineer // Ravi Kanitkar of The Crosby Group, San Francisco
Acoustics // David Schwind of Charles M. Salter Associates Inc., San Francisco
Building Owner // Orton Development Inc., Emeryville, Calif.
Building Tenant // National Park Service, Washington, D.C.


Wave Benches in Rosie Theatre // custom bent wood designed by Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects and fabricated by Peter Danko
Step/Aisle Light Fixtures in Rosie Theatre // WAC ME-808-BK from WAC Lighting Lights
LED Color Lights at Elevator and Theater // Selador Vivid from Electronic Theatre Controls
Jelly Jar Wall Sconces at Ramp to Rosie Theatre, Bathrooms and Path Lighting // Roughlyte from Philips Stonco
Glass Pendants at Rosie Theatre // UI-200400 from Ameico
Sound-absorption Panels // Pinta Acoustics
Elevator // Otis
Carpet // Sisal Tec II in a Peppergrass color from Mohawk Karastan
Skylight // Single-pitch skylight from Royalite Manufacturing Inc.
Bathroom Tile // 3- by 6-inch D100 in white from Daltile
Bathroom Faucets // Tapanga from California Faucets
Bathroom Soap Dispenser // Lavatory-mounted B-8226 from Bobrick

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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