If you’ve ever driven down Huntington Boulevard in central Fresno, it’s not hard to imagine the rich history of the neighborhood.
From the eclectic mix of architecture, to the wide, lamp post lined streets, this architecturally distinct neighborhood is a beauty to behold.
One Huntington Boulevard resident was so taken with her neighborhood, she dove into a project that has captivated the PVR office.
The Original Housewives of Huntington is a blog created by Janina Schulz, a teacher and Fresno native, who has a great curiosity and respect for the history of our city.
Each blog post is dedicated to the stories of women who have graced the notable neighborhood since the early 1900s.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The grassy median running down the center of Huntington Boulevard was once the Alta Vista Tract, a streetcar line platted in 1911, that ran from downtown to the boulevard. Originally envisioned as an upscale, exclusive community, the first residents were a dentist and his wife, who moved into a Craftsman bungalow in 1914.
The Huntington district varies in architectural styles: from modest Craftsman bungalows to upscale mansions, many built from the 1910s to the 1960s.
Schulz moved to Huntington in 2017 after an extensive search in Fresno’s more established neighborhoods.
“We wanted to live in Fresno, in a house where we had our own mailbox,” Schulz recalls. “We love our house because it’s unique and has so much character.”
Schulz began taking photos of the beautiful homes as she explored her new neighborhood, wondering about the stories behind them.
“There are many houses on the street that make me pause every time I see them,” she says.
DIGGING UP THE PAST
Schulz enjoys local history and research, so it’s no surprise that she uses multiple platforms to discover details about past residents. She finds the most accurate information in the U.S. Census data through ancestry.com (she’s an avid researcher of her own family history), the history of Huntington website and old newspaper archives.
However, the search for information can be exhausting.
“Sometimes I take breaks with certain homes because I hit roadblocks in the research,” Schulz explains.
Huntington Boulevard was occupied by many of the day’s leading professional men and their families but Schulz wanted to focus on the stories of women.
“I was really impressed by the fortitude of the women who lived on this street a hundred years ago,” Schulz says. “Most of their sons went to war, many were immigrants or children of immigrants, and many cared deeply about causes in their community.”
After chronicling the history of over 15 homes, we had to know — does she has a favorite housewife?
“My favorite story is about May Wienke , who was a dedicated educator for her whole career. Her story really inspired me, because as a teacher myself, I felt connected to her philosophy of education.”
PRESERVING THE HISTORY
Several Huntington homes are located on the local historic register. The homes must meet certain criteria to keep that distinction.
“When you buy an old home you have to realize there will be challenges, even if the home’s had renovations,” Schulz advises.
An older home may not be for everyone. Yet one stroll down the boulevard, especially at Christmastime, can make even the biggest skeptic fall in love.
“If you buy an old home because you love history and care about preserving the beauty of the house, then the benefits outweigh the costs.”
By Joy Hoggard
Marketing Coordinator & Realtor, Premier Valley Realty
Resource: A Guide to Historic Architecture in Fresno, California
Pictures courtesy of Janina Schulz