Thursday, October 21, 2010

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Congratulations go out to James Hitchcock for getting the latest Mystery Spot correct. The mystery photo was taken on the east side of the Jacob Building which is located on the southwest corner of Church and Main streets. (Visalia Coffee Co. is there no.) There are many granite features built into this building--a building built by Elias Jacob in 1894.

Here’s the new one. Where is this building? Here are your clues:

  1. This building was built in the mission revival style.
  2. The architect was Alvin J. Stern.
  3. The building has a carriage house adjacent it.
  4. It stood near the “smallest park in the world” for many years.
Good luck!

Murray Ave.

Murray Ave was once called North Street in the town’searly years and was the north boundary of the original Visalia townsite. The street name was changed to Murray in honor of Abram Hunter Murray, a pioneer born in 1827 in Missouri and

who came to Visalia in1852. He was one of the first settlers here and actually lived in the stockade that became known as Fort Visalia.

Rare Old Kern County Pioneer Photograph

Found in Visalia

A nice story of discovery came to light recently, a story that connects a long time Visalian’s grandfather with the Frazier Mine, and Frazier Mountain at Frazier Park, CA. Betty Treaster has long known that her grandfather (William Frazier) and his brother were the discoverers of the Frazier Mine in Southern Kern County. She found a photo of William recently and showed it to me. I contacted Bonnie Kane, a Kern County historian. She has written several books and is connected to the museum on the Ridge Route and I mentioned the photograph to her. She said she had historical information about William, but no photo. Betty allowed me to send her a copy of the photo and she was excited about adding it to the historic collection dealing with Frazier Park. It was a nice find and it just points out that there are are new discoveries lurking out there everywhere, waiting to be discovered. Thanks Betty for your discovery. Who knows what other secrets lie in old boxes of photographs, letters or documents!

House Becomes Insurance Office

Peter Cowper was going through some old family slides recently and came across this old “neighborhood parade” (December 1949)

slide with an image of himself in the wagon being pulled by his sister Judi. In the background is the house on the southeast corner of Tulare and Crow streets and was occupied at the time by the Lindsay family. The Lindsay house in the background still stands and is now the Allstate Insurance Co. Nice to see old homes saved and turned into offices. Thanks Peter and Judi for sharing your family pictures.

Mearle's Coming Back to Life?

Could it be true! After months of rumors and hushed conversation, could Mearle’s again be ready to open? The Valley Voice newspaper and Fresno Channel CBS47 recently scooped the Mearle’s story. The Habit Burger Grill has apparently worked out some agreement with the property owners of Mearle’s. It is not clear what the agreement involves yet, but I’m sure in the next days and weeks, details will follow. Pick up a copy of the latest Valley Voice or go online at To see Channel 47’s online story go to Could be some exciting times a comin’!

Old Scrapbook Discovered

Recently while the Visalia Parks & Recreation Department was going thru their historic scrapbooks, they discovered one scrapbook unrelated to Parks & Recreation. They are not sure how it got in their collection but they would really like to get it back to its rightful owner. Lots of old photos of people inside, labeled with names like, Frank Burchett, Roxie Delia Burchett, Alice Burchett, Ethel Nichols, Lulu Burchette, Juck Nodine, Ernest Schmelzia, Mr. Webster and family and Ada Melvina Medlock. Please let me know if any of these names sound familiar as the Parks & Rec people would really like to return it to the original owner.

Mill Creek—Way Down Under

As you know, historic Mill Creek flows under downtown Visalia. The waterway is one ofthe reasons the town was founded.It provided much needed water to the settlers. Recently, I had an opportunity to accompany Patrick Barszcz and actually go in the subsurface channel where it drops under Santa Fe between Main and Center. How exciting it was to be there knowing that the creek had been covered for over a century. Mill Creek is a historical asset and cries out for creative ideas to capitalize on its unique qualities as a historic water feature. Anyone been to San Antonio's Riverwalk?

Fort Visalia Coming Back?

Well, the old Fort Visalia site (northeast corner of Garden and Oak) looks like it might become city property. If that happens, part of the block could become a commemorative or legacy site for the fort that once stood there in 1852-53. So now those with an interest in the past have an opportunity to offer creative ideas for at least part of that historic block. A Sutter Fort type replica? A portion of the fort built on the site? A nice plaque with a raised relief of the fort’s image? Start thinking about the possibilities and I know Susan Mangini would love to her some of your ideas. It has been a dream of hers for a long time to do something about that Fort Visalia site. Stay tuned!

Nice Photo Surfaces!

Recently, George Reece sent me this great old 1946 photo. It shows his father, Paul Reece in the middle between Visalia Police Chief Paul Finley on the left and Frank Bentzen who at the time was the Identification Officer for VPD on the right. In 1947, Bentzen became Visalia’s new police chief. Thanks George for sharing this nice old photo.

***In the last HH, Dennis Whistler asked for help in the identification of all the young ladies in a photograph he found in an old house. Shortly after HH was released, Dana Lubich’s mother, Patricia Morris, identified the unknown ladies in the photograph. The power of networking really paid off. Thanks Patricia for your eagle eye.

***Also in the last HH, a photograph of the celebrity, Aunt Jemima, was included when she visited Visalia. A number of you contacted me and mentioned other celebrities that had visited Visalia in the past and we had a lot of them. Bill Fuller mentioned Richard Nixon came here when he was running for California State Senator; Art Browning mentioned several, Gov. Pat Brown, Goodwyn Knight, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles, Tom T. Hall, Johnny Rivers, The Platters, Coasters, The Drifters, Willie Nelson, Ben Johnson, and Tex Ritter.

***And again in the last HH a nice old photo of the Acme Beer delivery truck was included. A number of you took a stab at the year and make of the pickup truck and the guesses included 1937 International C-1, 1936 or ’37 Chevy, 1941 or ’42 International. So it appears to be anyone’s guess, but we got the idea.

***Justeson’s continues to be a topic of historical discussion. Several of you wrote about experiences at Justeson’s, but Rod Robinson shared, “I was too young to remember, but my father, Wayne Robinson, worked at Justeson’s with the fellow that founded Sheperd’s Market in Patterson Tract. My father left Justeson’s to go to work delivering milk to the ‘mom and pop’ stores in Tulare County for Knudsen’s Creamery. After that he went into partnership with Sleepy Sutton to form the S & R Market on Pine and Filbert in Exeter.”

"Wonder if all Visalians have noticed the view of the mountains from this city recently? We very much doubt whether any part of the country affords the sight of such a beautiful mountain range. The Sierra Nevadas of Tulare County are a delight both in winter and in summer. They are an asset which the county should prize highly.” Visalia Daily Times, January 18, 1913