The Helm family in Fresno was certainly one of influence.
William Helm made Fresno his home on a five-acre tract of land at the corner of Fresno and R streets. Because of a growing family, William, bought the block where he built the family home in 1881; it stood for 71 years.
As the children married, William gave them lots to build their own homes, along this block that is now the site of Fresno Community Hospital. William’s son, Frank born in 1877, went on to start the Helm Ranch Dairy out near Kearney utilizing the most cutting edge equipment for his heard of registered Holstein cows.
Around 1901, Frank Helm chose to build a home in the city on the oldest residential street; L St. What he built was anything but typical for the day.
Its Mission Revival style adapted elements from early California missions. This was rarely seen in Fresno in that day. With its magnificent wood paneled foyer the home was clearly meant for a family of considerable means.
By 1980 the building was designated a historic resource and the city began working with the family to preserve it.
A local neighborhood ministry had begun locating its offices on the historic L street just doors from Frank Helm’s old house. They saw an opportunity for outreach in the neighborhood and bought several homes on the street, including the Helm house, with the intention of using them as a campus for their neighborhood work. Yet by 2009 the economy had taken a toll and the dream collapsed.
The battered piece of local history now has a rescuer with deep pockets — the Fresno Housing Authority, its owner. Scaffolding is up, security fencing is in place, backhoes are digging up the yard. And the exterior restoration just got a new coat of paint. The interior work is expected to be finished soon.
We can hardly wait to see this gem buffed to its original state! Once finished the plan is to use the old Helm house for offices and we are already working on gaining access for our Taste of Graffiti adventures. Meanwhile we still stop on by to see the progress during construction and you can join us this Saturday morning 11am (3/9). Be sure to get your tickets at www.AboutTownTaste.com