Ask Me

Fresno’s 4C’s business school opened in 1891

By Paula Lloyd

Special to The Bee

Men and women practiced on adding machines in this 1919 photo of Fresno Business College, then owned by Heald Colleges.
Men and women practiced on adding machines in this 1919 photo of Fresno Business College, then owned by Heald Colleges. Courtesy photo

Q: What is the history of 4C’s Business College?

Sarah Slaughter, Fresno

A: When it opened on Sept. 1, 1891, 4C’s Business College was known as Fresno Business College, according to late author and historian Catherine M. Rehart.

Rehart published six-volumes of “Legends & Legacies,” a collection of stories on local history originally broadcast on KMJ radio. Her research notes for those stories, on file at the Heritage Center in the downtown Fresno County Library, include a detailed history of 4C’s Business College written in 1991 by Deborah Boyett of the Boyett Advertising/Public Relations firm.

The business college came to Fresno when W.C. Ramsey expanded a similar school he ran in Modesto, where bookkeepers and “typewriters” — what secretaries were called then — were trained.

The first campus opened in the Edgerly Block on Tulare Street in downtown Fresno. The first class had 80 students and F.C. Cook was the principal and one of three teachers who would “bring practical business education” to Fresno, Boyett said.

In the early days of the school Ramsey ran advertisements in the Fresno Expositor newspaper “to convince the men of Fresno that he was not going to prepare women to take away their jobs,” Boyett said.

A few years after Fresno Business College opened, the school changed hands and became Chestnutwood Business College.

By at least 1919, the school belonged to the Heald Colleges, a chain started in San Francisco in 1863 by Edward P. Heald. By 1932 the school was known as Central California Commercial College, often shortened to 4C’s.

In 1962, Southern California business educator James E. Deitz bought the school and expanded its curriculum. A June 1964 Fresno Bee advertisement listed classes offered in 4C’s summer session, including typing, accounting, bookkeeping, IBM key punch, court reporting, stenographic and the Nancy Taylor Charms and Finishing course.

For a few years Deitz also operated a campus in Bakersfield. In 1966, Deitz merged 4C’s with Heald Colleges, which shut down its northwest Fresno campus last month as its corporate parent ceased operation.

Q: What was Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard originally called?

Norman Bitter, Fresno

A: On May 2, 1989, the Fresno City Council voted unanimously to change a two-mile section of Fig Avenue between California and North avenues to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in honor of the slain civil rights leader.

The late Les Kimber, serving on the council at the time, first suggested the change. According to a Bee story on the council’s action, Kimber said “renaming of Fig Avenue has been on the West Fresno community’s agenda for several years.”

Kimber favored the proposed location because of redevelopment along the two-mile stretch. “What better street in the city of Fresno would be more worthy to bear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than one that has fathered the rebirth of a community?” he said.

Edison High School student Atasha Stackhouse told the council renaming the street for King “would be a step toward instilling pride in our community. Dr. King deserves all the honor we can give him.” More than 700 people had signed a petition supporting the name change, she said.

But the change was not without protest. “A large number of residents and business owners wearing green paper figs jammed the council chambers” in opposition, the story said. They were concerned with the nearly $4,000 cost to change 56 street signs and upending the street’s history.

Fig Avenue — along with Fruit, Walnut, Elm and Cherry avenues — were mapped out in 1875 within the first agricultural colony established in Fresno County, according to Rehart.

An 1882 atlas map shows Fig Avenue running north and south from California to North avenues. Today Fig continues south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Adams Avenue.

Q: On March 17, 1966, I was inducted into the United States Army at the Fresno Army Induction Center. I seem to remember that it was on H Street. Is there anything you can tell me about it?

Wes Parker, Kingsburg

A: The U.S. Army Induction Station opened at 1830 H St. in 1951, according to Fresno city directories. Prior to that, the Federal Mogul Corp, a bushings and bearing manufacturer, was listed at the address in 1947.

By 1973, the address is listed in city directories as vacant.

There may be some confusion about the address. While city directories give the address consistently as 1830 H St., a Nov. 1, 1970, Fresno Bee story about a blast that damaged the building gives the address as “the 1900 block of H Street.”

The story says two dynamite blasts shortly before midnight damaged the Army office and the Fresno Guide newspaper building. The Fresno Fire Department said several sticks of dynamite were found near the blast site. Fresno Police checked other public buildings as a precaution, the story said.

The 1830 H St. office is no longer standing.

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