library exhibition unveiled at the Porterville Historical Museum | Pictures

The Porterville Public Library is alive.

On Friday, the Porterville Historical Museum unveiled its new exhibit in honor of the Porterville Public Library which was destroyed by fire on February 18, 2020. The exhibit was unveiled at a private reception for guests.

The whole community will have a chance to view the exhibit when the museum reopens to the public in a week from today, Saturday April 17. Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Porterville Public Library exhibit also includes an exhibit that honors firefighters, including Porterville City Fire Captain Raymond Figueroa and City of Porterville Firefighter Patrick Jones who were killed while battling the library fire.

“We’re going to have the exhibit before the library burns down,” museum treasurer Susan Uptain said.

The exhibit presents the full story of 116 years since a library was located in Porterville. It starts with the Interse Circle, a club that has been and continues to exist in Porterville since 1891. There is an exhibit that pays homage to Interse and another exhibit called “1891 – The Interse Reading Circle is formed by Mrs. Murray.” “

It was also Interse who worked to establish a library in Porterville. The Carnegie Library opened in Porterville on June 19, 1905. There is also an exhibit in honor of this library. Final cost to build this library: $ 8,998.

The “old” library in Porterville was demolished by an earthquake in 1949. Prior to its demolition, this library distributed toys and games to children during World War II.

A child at that time, Bill Horst, did what many children did in the war. He remembers picking up foil from gum wrappers and cigarette packs. “It is a way for children to help defeat Hitler,” said a display in the exhibit.

Of course, Bill Horst has become a longtime historian in the community and he will return with his lecture series when the museum reopens on April 17. Horst’s lecture will take place at 1 p.m. has started, ”Uptain said of the Porterville settlement which dates back to the days when cattle ranchers settled in the area long before there were citrus fruits in the area.

On March 8, 1953, the “new” and current Porterville public library, finally destroyed by the fire of February 18, 2020, was inaugurated.

In January 1974, the Ments House which was located between the library and where the fire station now stands was demolished to make way for a two-story addition to the library. The dedication of this completed renovation took place on July 31, 1975. The plaque marking this dedication which was in the library has been preserved and appears in the exhibition.

Almost all of the Porterville Recorder microfilms dating back to the creation of the Recorder in 1908 have also been remarkably rescued from the fire. Although the boxes the microfilms were in were obviously destroyed, the microfilm survived.

The microfilm is now contained in new boxes and it takes two large tables for the microfilm to be displayed in the exhibition which runs until June.

Uptain said the microfilm would eventually be moved to a fireproof room in the museum. The museum also has a large number of bound volumes of the Porterville Recorder editions donated to the museum by Ted Ensslin.

The museum will digitize the Recorder microfilm, a project that will take years, Uptain said.

The exhibition which is a tribute to the firefighters also contains a leather firefighter hat from the turn of the century.

Regarding plans to reopen the museum, Uptain said the original plan was for the museum to open every Saturday for the next four to six weeks. But she added that if the situation continues to improve when it comes to COVID-19, the museum’s board will consider increasing the number of days the museum is open.


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Patrick F. Williams