Monday, July 12, 2010

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Congratulations go out to Art Browning who was first to get the last mystery spot challenge correct. Located on the southeast corner of School and Court streets (506 No. Court St) the Christian Faith Fellowship Church sits on the site of the old Methodist-Episcopal Church South. It’s a beautiful old Visalia building. Good job, Art.

Now the new mystery spot. Where is this building? Here are the clues:
1) The building containing this cornerstone is art-deco in design.
2) It has a basement.
3) The business conducted here is important for our country’s commerce and personal networking.
4) The cornerstone ceremony included the Visalia Union High School Band.

The Ghosts of the Old Cinema
Monica Gutierrez recently asked me about the triplex theater that was located behind the Sequoia Mall. She called it Cinema 1-2-3. She said she grew up in Visalia, but is not living here now, and has heard ghost stories about the old cinema. She would like to know more about the stories. She said that the theater is referenced in a song called the Ghost of Bardsley Road and when she does internet searching for hauntings in Visalia, Cinema 1-2-3 comes up as being one of the haunted locations in Visalia. She says one of the “incidents” allegedly involved a boy being thrown off of a roof there and she wonders if there is any truth to that. So anyone with any stories about the haunting of Cinema 1-2-3 please share them. By the way if ghosts occupied the old theater, they are not occupying it now, as the building was demolished a few months ago. But do ghosts still occupy the site? Look for orbs in this photograph of the site.

Stage Robber Black Bart Last Seen in Visalia
An out of the area visitor to HH inquired about Charles E. Boles aka Black Bart and his connection to Visalia. This famous stagecoach robber started his crime spree in 1875 up in the mother lode country of California and focused his thefts on Wells Fargo strongboxes. He committed his last stagecoach robbery in 1883, was caught, convicted and began his 6-year term in San Quentin the same year. Justice was faster in those days. He was released on January 21, 1888 and his whereabouts after his release has been a mystery. It is said that in March of 1888 he was seen in Visalia at the Visalia House. No one seems to know where he went from here. Can anyone help out with this?

Main Street
When Visalia was first laid out, Mill Street was the major east/west thoroughfare through town. It was first called Mill Street named for the grist mill that was located at the east end of town, where Santa Fe and Main Street would be today. Mill Street gradually gave way to the name Main Street, but it wasn’t until November 17, 1890 that the official name became Main Street.

A Piece of Visalia in the Yukon
Nancy Barnes, received this picture from a friend who was RVing in Canada. This photo was taken in the town of Watson Lake in the Yukon. On the left hand side you’ll see a Visalia city limits sign among many other signs. Watson Lake’s “signpost forest” is quite a tourist spot. You’ll notice the sign for Visalia says population 30,600. In 1972 Visalia’s population was listed as exactly that, so I would assume the sign is from that era. Nancy tells us that the collection of signs started in 1942 during the construction of the Alaska-Canada highway and now there are about 67,000 signs at this popular and famous Watson Lake landmark. Nancy would like to know who placed the Visalia sign there. Good question! Does anyone know?

Old Electric Stove Found Stored for 60 Years!
Peter Cowper recently uncovered a family treasure that had been stored in the back of his garage since 1949. He believes it was shipped to Visalia in late 1948 probably from New York to his grandfather here. His grandfather’s home in Visalia did not have 220 electrical service, so it was never used. Peter is curious as to how old it might be. Can anyone help? By the way it’s a Roberts & Mander Model #336E labeled “Electric Quality Range.” Come on admit it, some of you used a stove much like this one!

St. Johns River—Named After an Early Judge
Recently, HH subscriber David Lacy, asked about how the St. Johns River got its name. It is actually named for an early pioneer named Loomis St. John. St. John was one of the first judges in the Tulare County Court of Sessions. The river took on this name early in our history. I have seen it listed as early as 1882 on a map and the river is almost always spelled without an apostrophe “s” (St. Johns rather than St. John’s). In early records it is sometimes referred to as the St. Johns Channel of the Kaweah River.

Dance Halls Were Popular Hangouts
Earldean Mayfield asked about some early dancehalls recently and mentioned a few that were very prominent in and around Visalia and really all of Tulare County. There was one called the Rocky Mountain Dancehall that was located about where the SPCA is now south of the airport. During the 1950s, these dancehalls and others were very popular hotspots with interesting names like The Pine Burr, Sierra Dancehall ( by the way this dancehall building is still standing near Bridge and Willow Sts in Visalia ), and Happy Go Lucky. Makes you wonder, 60 years later, what happened to them. They were such an important social outlet in their day. Pictured here is Print Stokes (far left) and his Rocky Mountain Cowboys. They were a very popular dancehall band.

***Back in May of this year, Kate Gibson-Cates mentioned that she received an old Mooney bottle from her grandmother who apparently recovered it during a demolition of a theater. At the time, I didn’t connect this demolition project, but in 1969 or so the old Grand Theater was demolished. It stood next to the Hotel Johnson on Main St. and in its early years it was known as the Bijou. Kate, could this have been the theater in which the old Mooney bottle was recovered?

*** Randy Groom, a name I’m sure you’re familiar with, is now the City Administrator of the City of Exeter. Unfortunately, for many of you, he will remain an HH subscriber and continue to be a formidable competitor in identifying future mystery spots. Congratulations Randy on your new career move and good luck.

***Robert, an HH reader, found an old monogrammed serving spoon (1880) with the initials T.O.M. He found it in the attic of the home he believes belonged to a Corolyn Mooney. He’d like to know if the initials T.O.M. might be initials to a Mooney family member. Anyone able to help Robert out on this? I checked with Bill Allen, local Mooney family biographer about this, and he was uncertain as to a Mooney family member with those initials.

“Visalia, the county seat has in the last few years showed a marked increase in business and extensive building has been done. That portion of the city south of Main street, a few years ago had but very few dwelling houses while at the present time it would be a hard matter to purchase a vacant lot.” Daily Visalia Delta, January 27, 1906