Ask Me: Earlier drought exposed Trimmer jail ruins

The Fresno BeeApril 26, 2014 

Trimmer, California, postcard, with the jail on the left and the two story hotel on the right. Courtesy Michael J. Semas Collection

COURTESY MICHAEL J. SEMAS COLLECTION

Question: Several years ago during another dry spell we found the remains of an old building at Trimmer Springs on Pine Flat Lake. It was off to the right of the boat ramp. What was that building?

-- Pauline McIntosh, Fresno

Answer: When he heard the description of the ruins, local historian and author Michael Semas of Hanford identified the building as the old Trimmer jail.

"It's a rare sight to see it coming out of the water," said Semas, adding he hasn't been up to see it this year. But when the ruins appear, "it's never good news for water," he said.

The community of Trimmer grew near Trimmer Springs, named for Morris Trimmer, who built a hotel and cabins there in about 1887. A post office opened at Trimmer in 1889.

The two springs were popular with Valley tourists, although the most favorable comment that the Fresno Morning Republican could make about the best spring was that it was "not unpleasant." The other spring reportedly had a strong sulfur smell.

Spring water was piped into bathhouses where visitors partook of its medicinal qualities. Guests also went hiking, hunting, boating, played cards or croquet and rode the Kings River flume, according to The Republican.

The Trimmer Springs resort prospered for years but was abandoned after its popularity waned. The hotel was dismantled before water filled the reservoir behind Pine Flat Dam, covering several other buildings.

Q: I have heard that the family of famous Harvard mathematician Andrew Gleason was from Fresno. What is his story?

-- Hilarie Orman, Woodland Hills, Utah

A: Andrew Mattei Gleason, who was born in Fresno in 1921, was named for his mother's father, pioneer Fresno vintner and developer Andrew Mattei.

Mattei came to Fresno County from Switzerland about 1890. He planted vineyards, founded a winery and by 1919 was the largest individual vintner in the nation, according to the late Catherine M. Rehart, a local historian and author.

In 1920 Mattei built the 12-story Mattei Building at Fulton and Fresno streets. Today it's the Guarantee building and is listed on Fresno's Local Register of Historic Resources.

Gleason grew up in Bronxville, N.Y. He graduated from Yale University in 1942 and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War.

He started teaching Harvard University in 1946 and retired in 1992. Gleason has a long list of honors and is known for his work on the solution to Hilbert's fifth problem.

Gleason died in 2008 in Cambridge, Mass.

Q: What is the history of Crown Printing? When did it go out of business?

-- James "Cliff" Madsen, Fresno

A: Clyde Jackson came to Fresno from Texas in 1913, and two years later he and a brother, Lloyd, opened Crown Printing and Engraving Co. on H Street.

After serving with the U.S. Army during World War I, Clyde Jackson also joined his father's rubber stamp business in Fresno.

In 1931 the brothers moved the business into the remodeled former Kutner Store nearby at 1134 H St.

In 1937 they built a building on Broadway between San Joaquin and Amador streets that housed Winters Glass Co., owned by Roy Winters and his son Daniel.

Clyde Jackson's wife Signey died in 1953, and in 1960 he married his brother Lloyd's widow, Vera. The couple embarked on a 100-day world cruise in 1963, but Clyde died of a heart attack while in Singapore. He was 72.

The rubber stamp business is still in operation, but Crown Printing closed in about 1999.

Ask Me publishes on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Paula Lloyd is a freelance writer. Send questions to askpaulalloyd@yahoo.com 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.

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