Question: I was baptized at St. Genevieve's Catholic Church in downtown Fresno in 1943. What is the history of the church?
— Belle Canales Tucker, Fresno
Answer: The forerunner of the church was a ministry to feed the hungry and a preschool opened at 1333 Kern St. in 1934.
According to a history of the church written by three parishioners, 22 children from the school plus two adults were baptized into the Catholic Church in 1936, and plans soon began to build a church.
Four lots at Tulare and C streets were bought in 1936. The anonymous donor who gave $2,000 to start construction wanted the church named for St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Today, a statue of the saint adorns the entrance.
The church at 1127 Tulare St. cost $12,500 to build. The church was dedicated on Palm Sunday, April 10, 1938, and a homily was delivered in Cantonese during the first Mass. Today, rosaries are recited in Chinese and English.
In 1941, St. Genevieve's became a parish. It became an auxiliary church after Our Lady of Carmel Catholic Church opened nearby at Inyo and Pottle streets in 1947, but by 1955, St. Genevieve's was re-established as a parish.
St. Genevieve's is a small church — the sanctuary seats about 125 — but there is a basement social hall. Bordered by Tulare, Mariposa, B and C streets, St. Genevieve's parish became the smallest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, "if not in the nation," according to the church history.
The preschool established in the 1930s continued operation by the Holy Family Sisters until 1970.
As Fresno grew, some parishioners moved away from downtown and attendance at St. Genevieve's declined. The membership grew again in the 1990s as young families came to the church. In the mid-1990s, the church underwent renovation and expansion.
St. Genevieve's is listed on Fresno's Local Register of Historic Resources. The red-brick building "features many Chinese design elements," according to the registry.
The congregation will celebrate St. Genevieve's 75th anniversary in July.
Question: What is the history of the house on the northeast corner of Huntington and Peach avenues? It appears to be deteriorating.
— Kay Noble, Fresno
Answer: The house at 373 S. Peach Ave. was built by E.J. Farr in 1913 for John Milford Euless, known as "Mr. Baseball" for his avid support of the game.
The two-story, wood-frame home has a distinctive hooded dormer above the broad eves of the deep front porch. Typical of early Valley homes, the house has a sleeping porch, located in back. The house also features a cement basement.
"Unchanged since construction, this house is typical of many farm houses of the area," according to a 1978 survey of the house by Fresno architect William Patnaude.
The house is listed on Fresno's Local Register of Historic Resources. The city of Fresno lists the home's owner in Colorado.
Euless came to Fresno in 1906 from Tennessee and was a real estate agent and grape rancher. He was the first president of the Fresno Cardinals baseball club and led a drive to raise $32,000 to build Ratcliffe Stadium on Blackstone Avenue in 1941.
In 1957, Euless Park baseball field was named for Euless. He died in 1966 and his namesake ballpark was torn down in 1987.
Question: I recently came across a book with a nameplate that reads, "Property of the Westmilton Water System, C.W. Bird, Owner, 617 Pine Ave., Fresno 4, Calif." What is the history of C.W. Bird and his water system?
— Phil Tavlian, Fresno
Answer: Dr. C. Wesley Bird was a foreign language professor at then-Fresno State College for many years, who also owned two water districts serving fewer than 300 customers in Fresno County.
A native of Pennsylvania, Bird earned degrees in English and French from Oberlin College in the late 1920s, and master's and doctorates in French and Italian from Princeton University in the 1930s. He taught at Princeton while writing his thesis.
Bird came to Fresno in 1932 and taught at Fresno State until 1969.
He wrote a children's book — "The Humpty-Dumpty-Grumpy and the Wise Little Cheerful Engines" — and also published many articles and poems.
Bird founded the Fresno Chess Club and the Alliance Francaise.
He owned the Westmilton Water District, which served 250 customers in the Selma area. The "4" in the Westmilton address was a postal zone that predated the use of ZIP codes. The Anoosh-Van Meter Water District served about 40 customers near Church and Maple avenues.
Bird sold the water districts in 1980. He died in 1990 at age 83.
Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Paula Lloyd, c/o The Fresno Bee Newsroom, 1626 E St., Fresno CA 93786. Please include your name, city of residence and a phone number.