Lewis Griswold

Bequette House in Three Rivers opens to public after museum restores it

The Bequette House, built in 1926, has been restored by the Three Rivers Historical Museum.
The Bequette House, built in 1926, has been restored by the Three Rivers Historical Museum. Three Rivers Historical Museum

A small, white house in Three Rivers known as the Bequette House has been restored by the Three Rivers Historical Museum.

A ribbon cutting and grand opening will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. May 7. The public is invited.

The Bequette family came to the Three Rivers area in the 1800s.

Bruce and Jessie Bequette built the house in 1926 and lived there for years, and it stayed in the family until the 1990s.

By chance, it is located on property next to the museum. When it became available for purchase, the board of directors acquired it to preserve local history, said Tom Marshall, president of the board.

“Preserving the past is what we’re all about,” Marshall said.

The home has a great view of the Kaweah River and the foothills, “one of the nicest views in Three Rivers,” he said.

Bruce Bequette was a park ranger in Sequoia National Park. His wife Jessie was the granddaughter of Judge Walter Fry, the first civilian superintendent of Sequoia National Park and an important figure in park history.

In the late 1940s, they built a gas station on the property and had a gift shop. Part of what is now the museum was the gas station, Marshall said.

They never had children. When the house was sold in the 1990s, their niece Rachel Caggiano of Visalia retained some furniture and has kindly donated it for the restoration.

One notable piece is a barrister’s cabinet that belonged to Judge Fry, who also served as the United States commissioner, or federal judge, in the park.

Thanks to Caggiano and niece Joan Thomsen of Castro Valley, several original pieces of furniture, including a Singer sewing machine, are now in the home, Marshall said.

Additionally, the original porcelain dolls that Jessie played with as a child are in a glass case at the museum and will be placed in the home.

The Bequette House at will be available for light use by community groups, and will be open weekends for tours.

Pegge Wall

On Monday, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office will present the annual Justice Award to Pegge Wall of Springville for her generous donation of the former Masonic Lodge building in Porterville to the Central Valley Family Crisis Center.

The award will be presented at the annual Law Day ceremonies, which begin at 8:30 a.m. at Tulare County Superior Court in Visalia.

Wall and her late husband Willard Wall acquired the Masonic Lodge building in the 1990s. Her husband founded Walco, a major distributor of animal health products based in Porterville before being sold to a larger company. It’s now known as Animal Health International.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold