Gambling, murder, ghosts and a chair with bullet holes give the Zalud House Museum in Porterville a special allure, prompting the Tulare County Treasures Project to highlight the home as one of the county’s lesser-known gems.
Volunteer Joe Greening, retired College of the Sequoias biology professor, wrote a brief history that was added last month to the project’s website.
Built in 1891, the brick house has a European-style mansard roof and was the home of John and Mary Jane Zalud, both originally from Bohemia, and their children Anna, Pearle and Edward.
John owned a 24-hour saloon and gambled for money and property, winning several south county cattle ranches.
But the family endured tragedies. Wife Mary Jane died of tuberculosis in 1912, and in 1917 their son-in-law was murdered.
A married woman said he made a pass at her and rebuffed him, causing him to speak ill of her in the community. She shot him to death as he sat in a chair at a hotel. At her trial, the homicide was ruled justifiable.
“The rocking chair, including bullet holes, now rests in an upstairs bedroom in the Zalud house,” Greening wrote.
Son Edward died in 1922 when he was thrown from a horse and was kicked in the head as he got up. Daughter Pearle eventually spent more time at the home and lived there from 1962 until her death in 1970.
“She lived downstairs and never married, but was convinced that the spirits of her family members came to visit her in the old family home,” Greening wrote.
Today, on a special tour with Paranormal Movement Investigations, the official ghost-hunting team for the city of Porterville, “you can enter the house at night and find out whether they will visit you, too,” Greening wrote.
Everything in the home, including the drapes, carpets, clothing, dishes and letters, belonged to the family, curator Heather Raymond-Huerta said.
The museum at 393 N. Hockett St. is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and by appointment. It’s a bargain: $2 adults, 50 cents children. Information: (559) 782-7548.
The Tulare County Treasures Project keeps a list of more than 100 local places of interest that are open to the public: www.tularecountytreasures.org.
• Karen O’Connor at Family Health Care Network received the Health and Wellness award for her work as a dental hygienist in the KinderCare program that has served 45,000 children in six years.
• Julie Scaife and Sue Pierce received the Exceptional Volunteer award for their work with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Tulare County.
• Preschool teacher Edie Nugent at Visalia Unified’s Preschool Academic Learning Center received the Early Care and Education award for taking advanced training and applying what she learned to the classroom.
• Kim Weeks at the county’s Child Welfare Services division received the Behavioral Health award for her work with pregnant mothers.
• Lupita Aguayo, an employee of Family Services of Tulare County and assigned to the Sheriff’s Department gang awareness parenting project, received the Parent Education/Strong Families award for working with inmates and their families.
• The Special Recognition award honored the late Patricia Howell, a nurse at Child Welfare Services who worked with foster parents, foster children and adoptees.
• Sierra View Medical Center Breastfeeding Program received the Outstanding Provider award.