Monthly news & updates

April 1, 2024

A Message from the President

Dear Members, Supporters and Friends,  

Thank you so much to all those who were able to attend one of our happenings this past quarter. Your FCCHS has hosted a variety of choices, each equally enticing and wonderful. From our Lunar New Year Grand Opening of From China to Fresno: 150 Year Cultural Journey exhibit, to Food for Thought, our History Happy Hour to Leilani Hideaway, our annual birthday celebration and gala, to the launch of Leo Politi: Artist to the Angels, the film we produced for The Friends of the Leo Politi Library…well, you can see, no grass is growing under OUR feet!

Today, I am so excited to announce the name of our community’s new archive. The former Downtown Club has been rechristened The Archive on Kern, or AoK as we like to refer to her. Look for an awning to go up soon. In fact, I am pleased to invite all of you to our first official event as AoK on May 2nd from 4pm as we celebrate our inaugural Art Hop and, more importantly, launch a full list of opportunities to engage in for Historic Preservation Month.

While the list of activities is not yet finalized, our Kick-Off evening will show a sneak peek into some of the beautiful and rare artifacts that will find a permanent home at AoK for the public to enjoy. We will have a few of the bound volumes of the massive McClatchy Collection that once comprised The Fresno Bee’s morgue and has safely landed with the Society as well as other treasures of the Valley that, little by little, as funds become available, will grace the Archive in a protected environment.

Of course, I forgot to mention that our beautiful bar will be open for business that night, which should bring back memories for many of you who have the fondest memories of The Downtown Club. Our long-term plans do include having libations available for thirsty visitors to the Archive as the bar area will stay intact.

I encourage you to stop by on May 2nd to learn more about safeguarding of our homes, buildings and districts from members of Fresno’s Historic Preservation Commission (I am also honored to sit on that panel) and to find the different ways economic incentives are offered to those willing to embark upon the greatly needed path to save the historic areas and structures in our own backyard.

There will be music and snacks and a full list of Historic Preservation Month happenings such as a bike ride that will stop at many places along a pre-selected route with our expert Commission Chair, James Sponsler, as your knowledgeable guide, an Open House Day on Saturday, May 18th when a number of long-standing edifices will be available for tours across the County (not all free-of charge), and much more. Trivia, art, behind-the-scenes peeks – we have so many enticing endeavors in the works. So DO mark May 2nd to visit us at The Archive on Kern.

This upcoming quarter will not disappoint. Tickets are now available for our Mother’s Day Tea Parties on Saturday, May 11th at the Kearney Mansion and Museum – you know we always sell out quickly. On Saturday, June 22nd, the weekend after Father’s Day, we will be holding our second Sip and Smoke – the details and location are still a secret, but last year, attendees wanted to make this available as a special gift for dad (or other hard-to-shop-for males in your life) and so we moved the date to early summer. If you haven’t been out to KMM since our Chinese installation has been open, make time to visit. I cannot express enough gratitude to the members of CAMP – the Chinese American Museum Project Committee – who have been serving as docents since February. They have been so generous with their time, knowledge and delicious delicacies and we are indebted to their work on Phase 1 of this mission. We are so proud to announce that this irreplaceable collection will, in its entirety, be a part of the Permanent Exhibits at The Archive on Kern. Believe it or not, there are even more hidden riches in our storage waiting to emerge to be appreciated by our residents.

I also want to point out the next few Fields of Fresno Ag Tours – I know you can read all about them below, but we have a very special opportunity in July to visit the Port of Oakland to see where the bounty of our Valley goes to head off to international shores. Wine enthusiasts – the April tour is for you! If you have ever considered embarking on one of our Ag Tours, there are some really great choices coming up.

Finally, I want to talk about the Archive once more. Many are inquiring about when we will be fully open. Frankly, I don’t know that we will be completely moved, catalogued and digitized in my lifetime. What I do know is that it will take a commitment from this city, county, state and nation to raise the funds necessary to ensure that we create the best safe haven possible. My team and I believe to our cores that this is the right thing to do for now and for the generations to come. Nowhere else will have a dedicated Oral History video room. Nowhere else will have an expansive, temperature-controlled vault with the best fire suppression system. Nowhere else will have our great bar – well, that might be debatable. We know what to do, have the top experts ready to do it and now we need your generosity to show that you want it too. Yep, hand is out begging. Help us do the right thing at the right time and become a part of the Fresno City & County Historical Society. We received the most spectacular gift from five families who agreed with this course of action and helped us purchase our home outright. We now turn to all of you to, step by step, make the transition of AoK a reality.

Warmest regards and appreciation, 

Elizabeth Laval                                               


Fresno City and County Historical Society 


Registration Now Open

By Nancy Faria, Event Manager

Have you heard the news? There's a new summer camp in town. Camp Kearney focuses on history, community and culture, and offers so many educational, diverse and fun things to do, we can't even list them all. But we'll try!

  • Visits from the Fresno County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol Unit-with their horses!
  • Walking field trips to the African American Farmers of California's demo site and the North Central Fire Protection District Station 56.
  • Furry, feathery and slithery friends from Reptile Ron and the Nature of Wildworks.
  • Hang out with local historical figures such as M. Theo Kearney himself.
  • Discover disc golf with the pros from Fresno Flight Center.
  • Learn how our local indigenous tribes made baskets, and make one of your own.
  • Enjoy the music of the Fresno Folklore Society.
  • Master butter churning.
  • And so much more!

Join us at the Central California Parent Camp Fair on Saturday, April 13th from 12-4PM at Campus Pointe at Fresno State, 3090 E. Campus Pointe Drive, or CLICK HERE for more information.

Hope to see you at camp!



By Candice Calderon, Tour Director

Saturday, April 27, 2024 – Madera Wine Trail and Tesoro Viejo Farmers' Market

8:15AM -1:15PM departing from the Kearney Mansion Museum 7160 W. Kearney, Fresno, CA 

Did you know that you don’t have to travel all the way to Napa Valley for a GUIDED wine tour?

The wines in Fresno and Madera County are award-winning. Note - many of the wines bottled outside of the Central Valley are made from valley-grown grapes. This month, we’re showing love to our sister counties, such as our next-door neighbor, Madera. Madera has a charming self-guided wine trail; but we want to provide a guided experience to ensure the glory of this trail receives proper credit.

Right before wine tasting on this tour, our first stop will be to the praised Tesoro community that features a Farmers’ Market. If you have yet to visit this neighborhood oasis surrounded by our Valley hills between Madera and Fresno along Highway 99, then you’re in for a treat.

Enjoy the Farmers' Market and then we’ll be on our way to tour Dorval Estate Winery along the Madera Wine Trail. Dorval Estate Winery was previously known as Fasi and is now owned by a new local family-based company.

Guests will enjoy wine tasting, lunch, and a guided walking tour of their vineyards. A new feature of our Fields of Fresno Ag Tour is that a fresh lunch menu will be provided by Sweet Bee’s Catering with a soul-food theme! RSVP and book your seats in advance before April 15th at for our April 27th event. Inquiries may be directed to Candice Calderon, Tour Director, at [email protected] or call 559-777-4091.



By Cami Cipolla, Director of Educational Services

Hello Friends of the Archives!

Per usual, when preparing for exhibits, workshops, or curriculum (to be fair, everything I do!) I dive headlong into the Archives for research. Our Archives are always the place I begin to find firsthand perspectives. Currently, I have several projects in the works that revolve around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The history and evolution of our fair city is a woven tapestry of cultural, ethnic, and spiritual diversity, making Fresno a beautifully unique mecca of heritage. My search led me to a piece of history that many Fresnans may not be familiar with, The Forum of Better Understanding

Sponsored by the Fresno branch of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the three religious leaders created The Radio Forum of Better Understanding, aired on Fresno Bee Radio KMJ. The panel examined local and national social issues through their respective spiritual lenses. On January 29, 1938, a Fresno Bee article opined that the panel wanted to urge the elimination of religious bigotry and stated that the initial broadcast would “emphasize the impossibility of a city being a ‘community’ unless religious and racial prejudices are smoothed out by mutual respect and understanding.” Though KMJ manager George Engstrom had fears that the radio forum would be too controversial, Eleanor McClatchy of the McClatchy Newspaper Company, (radio station owner at the time) felt otherwise. McClatchy felt that the broadcast could potentially be a huge benefit to the community of Fresno. For almost 17 years, the Forum broadcast weekly on KMJ from 1938 until 1954, sharing a continuous message of social tolerance in spiritualism, diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

The Radio Forum of Better Understanding did not only discuss religious issues, rather they tackled a wide variety of socially relevant topics and were thus met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. Topics including patriotism, racism, social issues, and multinationalism were common points of discussion, as well as international issues like the spread of Fascism in Europe, the Jewish Holocaust, and Communism. Within the bound volumes of the radio Forum’s scripts, a broadcast discussed the justification of World War II, offering the perspective that at a time of great human loss, no matter your spiritual beliefs and inclination, it was important for people to understand the reasons for the war and for the sacrifice of those who served their country. 

The Panel sought to promote open-mindedness and understanding. “How can you understand others if you don’t know what they stand for or what they believe in?” Rabbi Greenburg stated this question as being the basis for the Panel’s discussions. It was a critical era for Fresno in its evolution of educating and understanding diversity and equity. The broadcasts began airing in Fresno when we had a population of 60,000 people, all with diverse ethnic backgrounds. This period in our history was one in which the segregation of ethnic groups was prominent, and the wealth gap was increasing, ethnic groups siloed into their own cultural enclaves due in part to restrictive redlining covenants that prevented the sale of residential properties to certain demographics in specific areas.

In his papers, Rabbi Greenburg described this segregation as “snakes of prejudice and intolerance,” notably frustrated by the injustice in the lack of equity. Another frustration was the lack of mental health services in Fresno, also a dominant topic of discussion during the broadcasts. At the time, there were very few trained social workers, and mental health programs were limited to Fresno General Hospital or to a government-funded general practitioner. Trained psychiatrists or psychologists did not become available in Fresno until after WWII. This social climate was the root of the Panel’s goal to improve their community socially and spiritually. 

These three humans came together from broadly diverse backgrounds to bring the Fresno community together in understanding and open-mindedness concerning spiritualism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These aspects are just as important in our current social climate as they were during the airtime of The Radio Forum of Better Understanding. Embracing our diversity and shattering the barriers that stifle unity and equity is a message the Forum strived to convey to their community through words and actions, and that same belief is one that we here at FCCHS stand behind and live by. 

Cheers Friends!

"We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color." — Maya Angelou


The Birth of a Children's Hospital

Valley Children's Hospital was dedicated in its original location at Shields and Millbrook avenues in Fresno in 1952. The result of the vision and determination of five women, Agnes Crockett, Gail Goodwin, Helen Maupin, Patty Randall and Carolyn Peck, who saw the need for excellent pediatric care in the Central Valley, the state-of-the-art facility quickly added an iron lung and cardiac clinic and continued throughout the decades to provide unparalleled medical attention to thousands of young patients and their families from across the region. Valley Children's moved to its current home in 1998. The following articles capture several momentous occasions including who the Hospital’s very first patient was! 

“Llanada Guild Will Conduct Rummage Sale”

“The members of the Llanada Guild will meet October 11 (1950) in the home of Mrs. Jack Harris near Five Points.

“Plans for a rummage sale in Huron in the latter part of October will be made. Proceeds will be contributed to the proposed Valley Children's Hospital fund. 

“Mrs. A.J. Sample and Mrs. Raymond Thomas are co-chairmen of the event. Anyone with old clothing or household articles to contribute may telephone Mrs. Louis S. Merrill, 5-1773 or the Valley Children's Hospital, 6-1385. Items such as old dishes, cups without handles, curtains, chairs, as well as clothing, are needed.” (September 24, 1950 – The Fresno Bee)

PRESENT CHECK— A check for $6,000 for the Valley Children's Hospital is being donated by the members of the Llanada Guild. Pictured left to right are Mrs. A.J. Sample, Mrs. Louis Merrill, Guy F MacLeod, the hospital president, and Mrs. Carthyl Thomas. The money was raised at a Westside party dance and barbecue Bee Photo.

“Next Month Set For Unit To Be Open”

“Rushing to set up all equipment and personnel schedules, the officials of the Valley Children's Hospital and Guidance Clinic hope to be open for business September 15 (1952). The hospital and the guidance clinic are in separate buildings at the Shields and Millbrook site. The construction for the 40-bed unit is almost completed. Members of Sanger’s Sequoia Guild have been active in fund drives to swell the backlog that will be used once the hospital goes into operation.

“Still to come is most of the equipment necessary to put the hospital and clinic into operation.”

“Equipment Ordered”

“William P. Germain, the hospital manager, said about 95 per cent of this equipment has been ordered and some has been delivered and set up. Nothing has been put into place in the clinic, as yet.

“Fred H. Kurz, the president of the hospital board of directors, said plans are going ahead to invite officials of several leading hospitals in California to the dedication ceremonies, planned for soon after the institution is opened. State and civic leaders will also take part.

“Helen M. Bardes, the recently appointed director of nursing service, is interviewing prospective members of the nursing staff in temporary headquarters in the Californian Hotel. 

“Frieda L. Sherman, the head of the hospital’s dietetics department, soon will begin adding to her staff.”

“Volunteer Work”

“Members of several valley guilds soon will begin the task of making and hanging the drapes in the wards and private bedrooms, This is but one of the many volunteer activities the women are undertaking.

“Eight treatment rooms, a kitchen, an observation room with one way glass windows, a reception room and offices comprise the interior of the guidance clinic.” (July 31, 1952 – The Sanger Herald)

“4,500 Attend Dedication of Valley Hospital”

“Dr. Loren R. Chandler voiced the opinion of some 4,500 persons who visited the Valley Children's Hospital and Guidance Clinic when he said:

“’This is quite a deal in my book and embodies my concept of complete medical and psychiatric care for all the children of the San Joaquin Valley.’

“Fresno born Dr. Chandler, now the dean of Stanford University School of Medicine, made the remark yesterday afternoon when he formally dedicated the $650,000 institution to the ‘care of children, regardless of their race, creed, color, and I might add, sex.’

“Crowds of valley folk bowed their heads when Monsignor James G. Dowling said:

“’Bless and sanctify this hospital and all who enter its doors. For the little ones who suffer, give joy in their hour of sorrow and we pray to Thee, oh, Lord, that no bitter words ever will be spoken here.’

“’Pour faith, hope and courage from above on all those who will be cared for here, and on those who will provide the care,’ prayed Dean James M. Malloch. Rabbi David L. Greenberg asked a blessing for the hundreds of individuals who ‘have given of their time, their energies and their money to fulfill here Your precept of comfort and succor to the children and inspire them to continue their efforts.’

“The crowd stood at the entrance to the hospital building, overflowed onto the yard and the driveways to hear Dr. Chandler declare infant mortality still is too high despite the strides forward made in medical science since 1912.”

“System of Standards”

“’I mention 1912 specifically,’ he said, ‘because that was the year the United States started her system of standards and approvals for hospitals. It also marked the start of the Rockefeller Foundation’s survey of medical education that led to the eradication of diploma mills and the two-year medical courses.

“‘Forty years ago, radiology (X ray) was just starting, today we have techniques enabling physicians to look into the brain, the heart, and even into the blood vessels.’

“In 1912, he continued, research was started that has led to the sulfa drugs and antibiotics, current weapons used by medical science to change the situation prevalent then of 20 deaths among every 1,000 children a year to less than two now.

“’Teamwork now is the word,’ Dr. Chandler asserted. ‘There are specialists in several fields now banded together to eliminate the spectre of disease and death among the youngsters. Yet infant mortality still is too high. Why? I don’t know.

“’I don’t know what will come out of the new 1,000,000,000-volt X ray techniques or the new sera or chemicals with which scientists are experimenting. Maybe – and I sincerely hope – we can use them.’”

“Defines Concept”

“He defined his concept of comprehensive childcare as:

“’Medical care, education and research are inseparable. They embrace the maintenance of good mental, emotional, physical health, the prevention of disease, the correction of deformities and the enlightened treatment of ill health in all of its forms.

“’This concept is followed by physicians with many special abilities and interests, using a wide spectrum of knowledge, professional skills, technologies, physical equipment and plain common sense in their daily work.’

“Old Glory was hoisted smartly to the top of the flagpole by Donald Hall and David Terrell, members of the Fresno State College Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps. The Star-Spangled Banner was played by the FSC band.

“Then Fred H. Kurz, the president of the institution’s board of trustees declared:

“’The citizens of the valley should be truly proud of the accomplishment represented here. I cannot praise enough the efforts of all those who have made these institutions possible. We have a class A hospital. The property is owned by a non-profit corporation to which anyone can become a member by subscribing to its principles and paying an annual membership fee.’

“More than 50 persons, after visiting the hospital and clinic, paid their fees and became members yesterday.”

“Pool Filled”

“The hospital and clinic tour was met by expressions of amazement at the arrangements and furnishings of the various facilities. The visitors saw the physical therapy pool, filled with water and with rubber toys afloat and awaiting the first patients to be treated. The latter probably will start arriving within a week or 10 days.

“The laboratory, with its profusion of bottles and phials, the surgeries, all set up for action, the modern X-ray and fluoroscopy machines, and beds made up with gleaming white linens. The visitors got a suggestion of realism by viewing two beds covered with oxygen tents with dolls as patients. They saw the incubator room with its three life giving machines.

“They also inspected the stainless-steel equipment in the main kitchen, then moved on to the clinic. There they viewed treatment rooms where youngsters with mental or emotional problems already are being treated by the psychiatry staff.” (October 27, 1952 – The Fresno Bee)

Here, a polio survivor with her family prepares to enter the facility for continuing treatment – December 20, 1956. 

“Appendicitis Attack Makes Fresno District Girl First Patient     

On Valley Children's Hospital Roster”

“Recovery Is Rapid After Operation”

“Myrna Louise Uridge, 9, knows the distinction of being the first patient in the Valley Children's Hospital and Guidance Clinic carries with it several stitches and a sore tummy. 

“The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Uridge of Route 12 on Manning Avenue near Walnut Avenue, she is recovering rapidly after having her appendix removed in the brand new and sparkling clean surroundings of the $650,000 hospital.

“By coincidence, the same day also had been set as the first day for admitting medical patients. Surgical patients were not supposed to start arriving until this week. 

“Myrna, who is a fifth grader in the American Union Grammar School, had had a pain in her abdomen for several days. Last Wednesday, it flared up again and her physician ordered her taken to the hospital for laboratory tests. 

“On the basis of the pediatrician’s tentative diagnosis of appendicitis, the laboratory technician, Donald Davis, did a complete blood count. His findings and those of a surgeon called in for consultation jibed and, in hospital parlance, Myrna was found to have a ‘red hot’ appendix and surgery was ordered as an emergency measure.

“Everything in one of the two main surgeries was readied by the staff, Myrna was given a sedative, and the surgeons and attendants started scrubbing their hands.

“Myrna had a little trouble getting to sleep and, as she lay on the first of the hospital’s 47 beds to be occupied, she talked things over with her parents. 

“‘Yes, dear,’ Mrs. Uridge said, ‘It might hurt just a little when you wake up, but before that you will feel nothing. In a few days you will go home and pretty soon you will be back in school.’

“Her father, a rancher, awkwardly patted Myrna’s hand and waited for the sedative to start working. He and Mrs. Uridge have another child, a son, Thomas, 15.”

“Administer Anesthetic”

“In the surgery, the anesthetic was administered, and soon the operation started with two surgeons, the pediatrician and several nurses watching or assisting.

“Watching in the corridor were Fred H. Kurz, the president of the hospital’s board of trustees, and W.P. Germain, the administrator.

“The actual surgery took 45 minutes. Exactly one hour from the time Myrna left her room, she was back in bed.

“The operation was a complete success,’ said the surgeons who asked that their names be not used.

“All agreed Myrna was a brave girl. She was only partly asleep when she entered surgery, but she smiled bravely at her mother and father, and at the nurses and Dr. Franklin L. Davidson, the anesthesiologist. 

“She was allowed by the physicians to return home yesterday and after a few weeks of convalescence will be back in school.

“Meanwhile, the care given her before, during and after the operation now is available to children throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Since Wednesday, six other youngsters have been treated there.

“In other words, the hospital which formally was dedicated October 27th is functioning.” {November 16, 1952– The Fresno Bee)


Saturday, May 11, 2024

We will celebrate Mom on Saturday, May 11, 2024 at the Kearney Mansion Museum with a traditional tea party. This special event offers a choice of seating in the Mansion dining room or on the veranda overlooking Kearney Park.

There are two seating times for tea at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM and includes a traditional tea service and a tour of the Kearney Mansion Museum and Gallery along with a 10% discount on store merchandise. 



Fresno Mayor Dyer Is the Man in Japan

by: David Taub

Originally published in GV Wire, March 26, 2024

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer is leading a city delegation in Japan this week to learn more about downtowns and high-speed rail.

City councilmembers Nelson Esparza, Tyler Maxwell, and Luis Chavez are joining the mayor this week.

“(The delegation) are in Tokyo for a fact-finding mission where they will be learning how Japan has developed and redeveloped its downtowns around its high-speed railways. The contingent’s interaction with international experts on this topic is critical to learning how to successfully integrate an HSR station into a downtown area. The knowledge gained from this trip will be used to help ensure that HSR infrastructure is implemented seamlessly in Downtown Fresno – giving the residents of Fresno the downtown they deserve,” city spokesperson Sontaya Rose said.

Dyer even mixed in a visit with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel.

“With high speed rail (downtown/Chinatown) station, city core revitalization and the $200 million plus investment occurring in our city (downtown) of infrastructure, we hope to learn best practices from the country that has perfected their multimodal transportation system and rarely if ever has trains late for arrival or departure,” Chavez said.

He also seeks to learn about neighborhood planning in a downtown/train station area, calling Tokyo “a model we hope to replicate in our city’s core and downtown region in the near future.”

Last year, Dyer led a delegation to Münster, Germany, touring businesses there and learning about housing plans. Chavez and Councilmember Mike Karbassi also made that trip.


Alton Brown, April 17, 2024

Alton Brown began his career as a cameraman when he was still in college, then followed with eight years directing television commercials before heading to culinary school in the early 90s with the goal of making food shows. Today, Brown has been on Food Network nearly 20 years, 14 of which he spent as the writer, host and showrunner of cooking/science/history/comedy show called Good Eats.

During that time, he also served as the culinary commentator and host of such shows as Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen, wrote eight books on food and cooking and toured two live culinary variety shows to sold-out houses around the country, as well as Broadway.

His musical trio released their first CD in 2016 featuring Brown’s original music from the stage shows and managed to make the Billboard charts not once, but twice. His trio has a holiday album in the works for 2019, which will pair perfectly with a new holiday-targeted stage show that will hit the road that same year.

There are two James Beard awards with Brown’s name on them in a drawer in his office, and somewhere in the world there’s a coveted Peabody awarded to Good Eats that was stolen out of his car back in 2013.

Brown is producing Good Eats: Reloaded, for which he’s shooting new material to “renovate and repair” classic Good Eats episodes, and plans to reboot the series in 2019 with The Return of the Eats on Food Network.

Although Brown is a pilot, scuba diver and motorcycle enthusiast his current hobby time is focused on brewing coffee, rejecting smartphone updates, and attempting to housebreak a rescued Boston Terrier named Scabigail. He shares a loft in Marietta, GA with designer Elizabeth Ingram and another dog named Franny, who seems to have the whole “going to the bathroom outside” thing worked out.

He watches a lot of movies (Brown has insisted on several occasions that Stanley Kubrick is, in fact, his father) and owns several vintage electric guitars which he plays badly. He also collects typewriters which he plays with considerable proficiency. He drives a 35-year-old car.

Oh, and he cooks.

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