Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list yet, and would like to be notified via email when a new posting of this newsletter is made, please email Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list. I will not share your email address with anyone without your permission.

Congratulations to Miranda Robinson! She was the first to identify the mystery spot in the last HH. It, of course, was a decorative feature on the old downtown Acequia Post Office built in 1933. The architect on that art deco beauty was Wm Coates and the construction Engineer was C. E. Gordon. Miranda identified it within 10 minutes of the HH posting and Susan Mangini came in a close second, identifying it within 25 minutes. Many of you got it correctly and I was impressed. Good job to all of you but a special congrats to Miranda.

Here’s the New One
This plaque is embedded in a Visalia sidewalk. Where is it?. Here are the clues:
1) This plaque identifies the site of the first house built when the first Visalians decided to leave the protection of Fort Visalia.
2) It was mounted and recessed in the sidewalk on a north/south street in the downtown area in 1952.
3) At one time a national chain supermarket was located by the plaque.
4) From this marker you can see the old Southern Pacific Depot building, the old Bank of America building, and the old church building now known as the Christian Faith Fellowship.
Where is this mystery spot?

Doors Swing Open to New Museum at Mooney Grove Park
Well, history was made on November 5, 2009, when the new Museum of Farm Labor and Agriculture opened for the first time to several hundred people. At about 7pm the ribbon cutting took place. The 17,000 square foot building is absolutely beautiful. It is pretty much “displayless” right now, but displays are being created as this is being posted and word has it that the museum will be open to the public perhaps sometime in December. By the way, the Learning Center or theater room which is one of the interior rooms is packed with hi-tech audio visual equipment. It offers many multimedia possibilities. The new museum will include a gift shop and to my knowledge the county museum has never had one. This photograph shows part of the new museum front with signage and a portion of the century old Lower Tule River bridge can be seen on the right side. This old bridge segment spans Cameron Creek connecting the two museum segments. Tulare County is fortunate to have such a nice addition to our pioneer museum grounds, so don’t pass up an opportunity to see it. You will be impressed.

Have you ever noticed how some of the curbs in downtown Visalia have a rather worn or weathered look? They look like the concrete when poured, had not been smoothed out. Well, what you’re looking at is probably not a concrete curbing at all, but a section of quarried granite. These very heavy blocks were cut out of the granite hillside quarry on Rocky Hill just outside of Exeter. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the Rocky Point Granite Works, operated the quarry and much of Visalia’s granite curbing and granite building decorations were quarried from that site. Many of these granite curbs were set in downtown Visalia in the 1890s before concrete became widely used. You can see the texture difference in the granite curb and concrete sidewalk in this photograph. We still have a considerable amount of granite curbing downtown, so take a look and see if you can find some of it.

Do You Know Any Masonry or Concrete Craftsman?
Jay Belt, the restoration project manager for the Buggy Step, wants a couple more quotes on the restoration of the buggy step. He is looking for someone who knows concrete and is willing to look at the damaged buggy step and give a quote. If you know of anyone willing to provide a cost estimate, please contact me and I will forward the information to Jay. In case you haven’t seen the buggy step yet, drive out and take a look at it on the curb line adjacent to the Deveraux Law Firm near the intersection of Court and NW First Street. It is a great symbol for all of us representing the days when horses and buggies were king.

West Street
When the first Visalia town site was laid out in the 1850s, the boundary streets were given practical names. The street on the “west” side of the town site became West Street. South Street eventually became Mineral King, East Street became Santa Fe and North Street became Murray.

He Flew for England’s Royal Air Force
The Tulare County Museum recently received an important donation from Judy Logan Fleeman. Her father, David Logan, of Visalia was a pilot when he and three of his friends volunteered for England’s Royal Air Force in mid 1941. The foursome became known as the Four Horsemen. David Logan, seen on the far right in this photograph was killed over England in a tragic mid-air collision on March 14, 1942. Judy wanted her father’s personal effects in safe hands, so she donated them to the Tulare County Museum. The collection includes, photographs, letters, flight log and so much more. Judy, is shown here with her dad a short time before his fatal accident. Thanks Judy for making sure your dad’s memory will always be with us.

** You’ve probably heard of geocaching and I know you’ve heard of treasure hunting, well in a month or so, HH subscribers are going to be given the chance to follow clues that will lead to a real “treasure.” It will be challenging, fun and rewarding for the person who can best decipher the treasure map and clues. But to win, you must be on the HH list, so get the word out and encourage those friends and family who have not signed up yet, to get on board. The clues will be Visalia history connected, so dust off your old Annie Mitchell books and be ready. I’m still working on a name for this Indiana Jones type adventure so for now I’m just calling it a Treasure Hunt. That name will change. The clues will take many forms, some cryptic, others may be riddles.

For those of you who love a good riddle,
Stay tuned and you’ll be right in the middle
Of a treasure hunt with a prize that’s great.
But you must be signed up, so please don’t wait.

** Remember the painted sign with the name L. Guggenhime on the side of the East wall of the brick building located at Johnson and School streets? I recently discovered, accidentally, that L. Guggenhime, was very likely a Visalia resident and owned the Pioneer Warehouse, which is the building on which the sign can be seen now. In 1876, the Visalia Weekly Delta reported, “We are pleased to notice that Mr. Guggenhime of the Pioneer Warehouse has just returned from San Francisco…” So the old painted sign appears to reflect his ownership and the fact that he was a Visalian. Up to this point, it was unclear whether L. Guggenhime really lived here or not. It is nice to discover these little tidbits of Visalia history. Take another look at the weather–worn sign on the building. You are looking back on old Visalia from over 100 years ago.

** According to an announcement in the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee agenda for Wednesday, October 28th, there will be a special meeting Wednesday, November 18, 2009 for review of the “Larson Hotel Demolition Permit” located at 404 and 416 E. Main Street. I assume, as with generally the Preservation Advisory Committee meetings, that “public requests” or public comments will be permitted. The meeting will be at 315 E. Acequia St in the front conference room. Any questions, you can contact Fred Brusuelas with the City of Visalia Community Development Dept. He can be reached at 713-4364.
“Two men, by the name of Gibbs and Harp, at a saloon up town, were engaged in a careless, playful scuffle over the possession of a pistol when it accidentally discharged, carrying away one of Mr. Gibbs’ fingers.” Visalia Delta, February 18, 1875

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