Question: What is the history of the modern two-story circular building on O Street at Tuolumne Street?
— Steve Skibbie, Fresno
Answer: According to Fresno city directories, the modern-style round office building at 1350 O St. was built in about 1964.
The 1960 city directory lists the address as the home of Edith King. In the 1962 and 1963 directories the property is listed as vacant, but by 1964 it was listed as an office building with several business tenants.
One of the early tenants was Louis J.B. Lampe, who owned an advertising and public relations business. Within two years, Lampe moved his office to 3142 E. Olive Ave., east of First Street.
Lampe, a native of Illinois, came to Fresno in 1950 and started his advertising business in about 1958. He was involved in local civic organizations, including the YMCA and the California State University, Fresno Bulldog Foundation. In 1973 he waged an unsuccessful bid for election to the Fresno Unified School District board.
In 1969 the O Street building housed offices of accounting, insurance and real estate businesses as well as attorneys. Today the building is home to businesses in the medical fields.
Q: Could you provide some information on the Kutner Colony School that was located on Highland and McKinley?
— Maizie Master, Clovis
A: The first Kutner Colony School was built in 1892 for the children of the mostly German, Swedish and Danish families living in the Kutner Colony 11 miles east of Fresno, according to “Public Schools of Fresno County 1860-1998.”
The farming colony, named for Adolph Kutner, who owned most of the land, was settled in 1880. He was a grain merchant and donated the land for a school at Highland and McKinley avenues.
The one-room school was a wood cabin that had “oak double-doors and a large bell shipped from an Eastern factory,” and heat provided by a pot-bellied stove.
Thomas E. Maxwell taught the 40 students enrolled the first year. According to a 1961 Fresno Bee story, former students told the story of the day the stove exploded. Instead of evacuating, Maxwell and the students formed a bucket brigade using the children’s lunch pails and put out the fire.
A new stucco school building was constructed at the same location in 1912. The original school building was moved to the back of the schoolyard and used for years as a classroom and community center.
Seventy students were enrolled in the Kutner school in 1948 when voters in the Kutner and Temperance colonies agreed to consolidate the two rural schools. The Temperance school had been condemned earlier that year due to earthquake damage. A new Temperance-Kutner Union School opened in 1950.
At a reunion of former Kutner Colony students in 1961, Gertrude Brock said, “We thought we were getting a good education. One thing’s for sure, truancy was unheard of. If we stayed home, we worked.”
Neither of the two Kutner Colony School buildings exists today.
More about: After an answer to a question about the Manning Gardens Convalescent Hospital was published Dec. 28, Sally Lewis of Fresno wrote to share her memories of the facility.
“My mother-in-law Doris Lewis was the first director of nurses when the hospital opened in what we remember as the summer of 1963,” Lewis wrote.
“In some ways that hospital was a family project to all of us. My mother-in-law would bring home big bolts of mattress padding and we would sit in her living room at night and cut pads for the patients’ beds. She also made bibs and many other things for ‘her’ patients. She saved cottage cheese containers, milk and egg cartons and many other things for the patients to make arts and crafts projects.
“From time to time my sisters-in-law and I would bring our children out to visit their grandma at work and she would take them around so the patients could see them,” Lewis wrote. “One day she called and needed something, so I put our almost 4-year-old daughter and 3-week-old son in the car and drove to the hospital. Before I knew it, the patients in the sun room wanted to see the new baby. Pretty soon both children were being passed from patient to patient and loved every minute. That is what Manning Gardens was about: wonderful, loving care.
“After my mother-in-law retired she had a stroke and moved into Manning Gardens to live out her days. Thank you for jogging our memory about a wonderful time in our lives.”