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Ask Me: First Huntington Boulevard home built in 1914

Question: I would like to know more about Huntington Boulevard. For instance, who was Huntington and which home is the oldest?

-- Stella Baker, Squaw Valley

Answer:

Huntington Boulevard was named for Henry E. Huntington, one of the owners of the San Joaquin Light and Power Co. The partners developed the Alta Vista Tract for prestigious homes in the early 1900s to increase the demand for electricity.

The first home on Huntington was built by Dr. Oliver Howard in 1914 at 3263 E. Huntington. The front windows of the Craftsman bungalow-style house have the telltale waves of old glass.

Because the boulevard between First Street and Cedar Avenue was divided into large prestigious lots, it developed over several decades in various architectural styles as tastes changed over the years. The bungalow style popular in the 1920s gave way to English cottage and English Tudor styles in the 1930s. The ranch house style was favored for homes built there in the 1950s. Sprinkled in between is an eclectic mix including Italian Renaissance and Moderne styles. The last homes were built in the 1970s.

Huntington Boulevard is divided down the middle by a wide grassy median where part of Fresno's trolley system once ran. The trolley began operation in 1907, predating the first house. The trolley tracks are long gone and today old-fashioned lampposts light the median.

The Howard house is one of three Huntington homes on the Local Register of Historic Resources. The others are the 1926 Bekins-McClatchy home at 3729 E. Huntington and the 1927 Blum home at 3870 E. Huntington.

Four more Huntington homes are being considered for the local resources list, according to Karana Hattersley-Dayton, historic preservation project manager for Fresno. They are the 1922 Watson home at 3537 E. Huntington, the 1921 Prescott home at 3707 E. Huntington, the 1930 Brinker home at 3965 E. Huntington and the 1938 Billings home at 3650 E. Huntington.

On a side note, Kerckhoff Avenue one block north of Huntington and Balch Avenue one block to the south are named for Huntington's business partners, William G. Kerckhoff and Allen C. Balch.

Wishon Avenue several miles to the west is named for Albert G. Wishon, manager of San Joaquin Light and Power Co. In 1916 Wishon built perhaps the centerpiece of Huntington Boulevard, a white, two-story Colonial revival house with Spanish influence. He planted a tree in the front yard that became Fresno's first lighted outdoor Christmas tree in 1918. Today the 91-foot tree is still an iconic feature of the boulevard.

Q: In the Dunlap cemetery there's a large headstone with the name Baker and monument about Baker's Mountain. What is their history?

-- Abigail Guajardo Garza, Fresno

A:

The Baker headstone marks the grave of Sands Baker, a local pioneer who donated the land for the cemetery.

Baker was born in New York state in 1837. In 1860 he moved to Visalia and opened a private school where he taught. He also briefly dabbled in mining.

Baker married Sarah J. Drake, a Visalia native, in 1872. They settled near Tulare Lake and later moved to Squaw Valley. The Bakers had seven children -- Martha, Robert, Chauncey, Lulu, Blanche, Pearl and Elsie -- and an adopted son, William.

Baker and his family settled in Shipes Valley, later known as Baker's Mountain, near Dunlap, where he had a 2,000-acre ranch growing alfalfa for his 200 head of cattle and horses and also timber and fruit trees.

Baker was a Republican who proudly recalled that he voted for President Abraham Lincoln, according to the 1913 book "History of Tulare and Kings Counties." Baker served on the Fresno County Board of Education. He died in 1918.

The cemetery is located on Sans Baker Road, an accidental misspelling of Baker's name that has not been changed.

Q: How did the Wave that crowds do at sporting events get started?

-- Linda Guerrero, Fresno

A:

The Wave -- where people jump up, raise their arms and sit back down in turn, creating an undulating pattern around a stadium -- is credited to professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson, who led the first Wave on Oct. 15, 1981 at an Oakland Athletics' playoff game against the New York Yankees, according to a 2006 Associated Press story.

An earlier version of the Wave -- from the bottom of a stadium section to the top row of seats -- was attempted at the University of Washington but failed to take off. That college's first side-to-side wave was performed on Oct. 31, 1981, two weeks after Henderson started the Wave in Oakland.

For several years the University of Washington laid claim to starting the Wave, but Henderson has video proof that his was the first. "The Wave was part of the A's 1981 highlight video shown to potential season ticket holders for the following year," the AP story says.

Since then the Wave has gone global, performed by crowds at all kinds of sports events.

In 2002, Hungarian scientists who studied videos of the Wave came up with a standard model: It takes only a few dozen people to get the Wave going and the movement usually goes in a clockwise direction.

Henderson, a former high school shop teacher turned cheerleader-for-hire, told the AP that not all sports fans are fans of the Wave. "As a professional cheerleader, I know why I do it. What it does is intensify the energy of the crowd. It's like a contest or video game," he said. "It takes 95% of fans doing it to make it work."

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