April 2019
Fresno Historical Society Celebrates 100 Years!

Centennial Gala a Roaring Success!

Guests raved about our Centennial Gala at Kearney Mansion on the evening of April 6. Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of entertainment including aerialists, live music and dancing, a casino, and a speakeasy. Gourmet catering was enhanced by a free glass of champagne and birthday cake. The mansion and the grounds were decked out in vintage style and all the guests dressed to impress making it a truly glamorous night. 

Many thanks to the generous sponsors of the event. We could not have done it without you!

Encounters in California History Book Club

Attention Book Lovers!

Our new  Encounters in California History Book Club will be meeting on April 30, 2019 at 6:30 PM at one of Fresno's great Armenian restaurants.

Pick up William Saroyan's The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze and Other Stories. This timeless selection of brilliant short stories won Saroyan a position among the most widely popular writers of America when it was published in 1934. Join us at our next meeting to have a drink, a bite, and discuss the author who helped put Fresno on the map. You can order the book through your local Fresno County Library or purchase it new or used on Amazon or Thriftbooks.

Be sure to like our Facebook page and click here to join our Encounters in California History Facebook Group to keep up with the discussion and find out where we are meeting! 

From the Archives

Hollenbeck-Bush Planing Mill Company Collection

We are happy to announce a recent donation of photographs from the Hollenbeck-Bush Planing Mill, circa 1940-1960. The images were preserved by Lawrence Cannon, a former Vice President of the firm, and were donated by his daughter, Patty Breckow of Paso Robles. This extensive collection of photographs complement our existing Hollenbeck-Bush Planing Mill ledgers, most of which date from 1907-1909. 

The mill was founded in the 1890s by William Hollenbeck and his brother-in-law Ed Bush as the Fresno Cabinet Shop. Destructive fires leveled the mill in 1904 and 1918 . After the 1918 fire, the mill was re-established at 2206 S. Van Ness Avenue with a five- acre   yard and railroad access. By the 1940s, the company had a fleet of trucks that allowed the staff to deliver custom walls for houses and detailed interior work, including sashes, doors, pews, and wooden cabinets. 

During World War II, the mill employed nearly 400 men to fill many government contracts for prefabricated houses and prefabricated hangers.  The mill's best work -  wooden ceiling detail insets and wood paneling -  can be seen in the courtrooms of the California State Supreme Courthouse in Sacramento . Locally, Clyde Hollenbeck, a nephew of the founder, crafted the doors for St. John's Cathedral and Warnors Theater. 

By 1950, the mill was solely owned by F. Rex Sporleder who had begun working at the mill in 1922 as a draftsman. Upon his death in January 1960, he left 10,000 shares of stock  each   to three employees, including Lawrence Cannon. At the time, the company employed more than 100 men and women and grossed more than $2 million. Unfortunately, a fire in a Hollenbeck-Bush building shared with a box company in 1966 spelled the beginning of the end for the wood-working firm. 

Join Today

Love Fresno County history?

Become a member of the
Fresno Historical Society!

The Society extends a warm invitation to our friends and neighbors, scholars and history buffs to join our growing membership dedicated to the history of Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley. 

Benefits include: 
  • Annual admission to Kearney Mansion Museum, including a special invitation to our members' Christmas reception
  • Subscriptions to our journal, Fresno Past & Present, and online newsletter, The Grapevine 
  • Discounted admission to most Society events
  • Time Travelers reciprocal benefits at nearly 300 historical museums nationwide
  • 20 percent discount on all purchases in the Kearney Mansion Museum Store 
Click HERE for more information on our great membership packages. 

Kearney Mansion Museum

Tours on Saturdays and Sundays
at 1,  2, and  3 PM
Click HERE  for more information

Fresno Historical Society
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