Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Click on photo for larger imageThanks 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 histerry@comcast.net. I will add you to the list. I will not share your email address with anyone without your permission.

Congratulations go out to Ed Stewart who was first to get the latest mystery spot identified. It was the old Railway Express Agency building at 225 No. Garden. It is now on The Depot Restaurant property and is the separate building on the southwest corner of Oak and Garden. Good job Ed, this was a tough one!

Now for the next mystery spot. Here are your clues:
1) It is on the site of the first church building in Visalia
2) The building is just south of the Fred Uhl building
3) It is just north of the old telephone company building
4) If you add the number together in the address it totals 7
Good luck.

Recently, I was talking with Nick Anthony a member of the pioneer Riggin family—a family that has had very little written about them. He shared that John Riggin, I believe the earliest Riggin family arrival in Tulare County , had a son named Lawrence and when Ave 312 was given a name, it was made Riggin Ave in honor of Lawrence and the Riggin family. The family owned property west of Visalia. Anyone know more about the Riggin family? We really need to get Riggin history into the books.

From Eyesore to Eye Popping!
Well, the new chapter in the life of the Mearle’s building is now beginning. For the last several months, we have witnessed the old-timer go from eyesore to eye popping and I know the community is grateful. We are so fortunate Dana Lubich has spent many hours with his still and video camera capturing the amazing transformation. Dana has pictorially documented the building in hundreds of photos showing the wonderful change. Here Dana gives us about a 3-minute slide show showing the transformation. Dana, your work is a community gift and we can’t thank you enough for the hundreds of slides/videos you took and the hundreds of hours you spent at that building. You have become an important part of the buildings history and we thank you. Turn your speakers up and watch Mearle’s become a Habit through Dana’s camera lens.

Visalia Aerial Photos Surface
Recently Mayor Bob Link told me of some copies of photographs of Visalia that had been given to him. Most of them are aerial shots from the 1950s. The one shown here is dated 1950. In this photo the view is looking southbound on Mooney Blvd. from about Mineral King. I have marked some streets with reference points. There is so much to learn and enjoy from these amazing old photos. Thanks, Mayor, for sharing them. As always, if any of you would like to see any of these photos or others that I have, I love sharing old Visalia. Just let me know.

Historic Buildings Will Get Plaques
For the past few years, Visalia has kicked around the idea of mounting identifying markers on historic buildings in town. Now the Visalia City Council has just approved the Historic Recognition Program (HRP). Buildings at least 75 years old are eligible for a plaque. See this design sample from another city. The plaque is not what ours will look like, but gives you an idea. This program is a great way to identify and appreciate Visalia’s great old buildings. We owe much to the Kaweah Kollectors who are the sponsors of this program and the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee who will oversee it. Nancy Loliva, Andy Chamberlain and a few others did the administrative work to get the program off the ground. Everyone did a great job on it. This is what the “Inside City Hall” electronic newsletter said about this program: “Historical Recognition Program Approved: The City Council approved a Historic Recognition Program (HRP) that allows interested building owners an opportunity to be considered for a plaque to identify buildings with local historical significance to the community. To qualify for an interpretive marker, the building must be at least 75 years old, researched for its authenticity, and at a minimum, the date of construction must be reasonably determined. The research and documentation must be conducted by qualified historical research personnel approved by the City of Visalia Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, and submitted with the application. Once mounted, all plaques become the property and responsibility of the building owner. The structure does not need to be within the City of Visalia Historic District or on the Local Register of Historic Structures. The estimated cost of each plaque with installation is $750, and funding is currently available through a $10,500 grant from Kaweah Kollectors.” For more specifics about the program go to http://www.ci.visalia.ca.us/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=11420

By the way, if you want to stay informed on general business/ activities within the city you can subscribe free to the “Inside City Hall.” Newsletter. It’s easy to sign up and a great way to stay informed. If interested go to the city’s website at http://www.ci.visalia.ca.us/  and click on About Visalia and go to Inside City Hall Newsletter. For help contact Community Relations Manager Nancy Loliva at nloliva@ci.visalia.ca.us  or call 713-4535.

Old Togni Building Is Looking Good
Harvey May, the principal of Paloma Development and his investment group has been working hard on the old Togni-Branch building, formerly Cross Horlock at 116 E Main. It is a nice century-plus old building in the heart of downtown. They removed the metal sheeting off of the front months ago (thank you for that) and gave us back the upstairs windows. The ground floor interior has been remodeled and the upstairs interior is in the works. Much of the ground floor is occupied and anyone interested in possibly occupying space in the nice old building should contact Harvey at hmay@palomadev.com or 713-0202. By the way, Harvey is working on a historical display in the common areas as part of the building’s restoration and would like to make sure the Togni family is included. Stay tuned, there will be an open house down the road. Harvey, the work of your group is appreciated!

Visalia’s Noon BlastIn the last HH I mentioned Visalia’s noon horn or whistle. At twelve noon, Everyday like clockwork, it would sound. Bob Miller had mentioned it to me and when I included it in HH and asked readers about it, I was bombarded with responses. Some called it a whistle, some a siren, some a horn and some a bell. Tony Cornett, a firefighter who worked in the old fire department building, says the horn, and he said it was a horn, was located in the south tower of the old city hall/fire department building at Church and Acequia. Several others agree. Tony said the pitch or sound of the horn was “3 very deep bass type tones” that he said sounded exactly like AHHH HAWWW AHHHH, repeated 3 times in rapid succession. I am not kidding, Tony actually believed by spelling out the horn sound allowing us to pronounce it, we could immolate the horn sound. I wasn’t buying it, so Tony recreated the horn sound and I share it with you here. This is Tony making the horn sound. Tony you are one amazing guy. Your voice is now being heard all over the world. Everyone, please tell me how close he came.

***Speaking of the town whistle/horn, Eleanor Bergthold recalls, “During the 1940s, my mom’s extended family got together at my grandparents’ house for Sunday dinner. On what must have been Sunday, September 2, 1945, several of my cousins and I were sitting in my grandparents’ front yard when the town whistle started blowing multiple times—a most unusual happening. Before long we were told by our parents that the war was officially over – a great relief since four of my mother’s brothers and one of my dad’s were in the service. (My mom’s 19-year old brother had very recently been killed in Okinawa in what would be the final assault of the war.”

***Steven Cullen, after reading the HH item about Visalia Olive Oil, shared that at some point, the U. S. changed olive oil import laws that had protected U.S. olive growers. He said the new import laws favored poor European countries (Italy) and California olive growers were economically hurt by it.

In 1870, after much water puddling in Visalia, the Delta facetiously reported: Good Investment—Any person wishing to go into the duck business can find a good pond on Court, between Main and Acequia streets. It also [is] a good opening for the establishment of a ferry, if a franchise could be obtained from the Roadmaster of this district. Visalia Weekly Delta, May 25, 1870

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