Three Rivers Historical Museum will be expanding now that it has acquired another 2.5 acres next to their museum/visitor center on Highway 198 (Sierra Dr).
Museum spokesman Tom Marshall says the museum recently acquired title to the property that includes the Bequette house through efforts of community-minded supporters to make it happen.”We want to thank Chan and Elizabeth Wilcox” for buying the property out of foreclosure and selling it the museum “for a very good price.” In addition Marshall says local realtor Dave Learned helped put the paperwork together. Community donations from the local Lions Club and Women’s Club help keep the doors open.
Marshall says the 1926-built Bequette house was the headquarters for Judge Walter Fry,the first superintendent for Sequoia National Park. ”We’ve been told that family members are donating some of the original furnishings from that time” to use in the building. Marshall says after some rehabbing around the house they plan to use one large room for a conference room for the museum as well as make it available for meetings.
Besides the building the extra 2.5 acres graced with oaks and sycamores, might be used for outdoor events from time to time.
In addition the property will be the new home of the famous 1950s Three Rivers metal sign done by sculptor Carroll Barnes when it is relocated from Slick Rock soon. Barnes carved the famed 1941 Paul Bunyan wooden statue in front of the current museum (see picture) as well as the redwood Giant statue in front of COS in Visalia.
This sign will be relocated in part because CalTrans requires there be only one welcome sign and the Three Rivers Foundation is erecting a new entrance sign for the community north of Horse Creek bridge as soon as next month. That 12’ by 8’ metal sign proclaims ‘Welcome to Three Rivers – Gateway to Sequoia National Park.’
Marshall says the all volunteer museum in Three Rivers – open every day of the week – gets good visitation particularly in the busy summer months when as many as 1000 visitors stop on the way into the park.
A bit more history. The Kaweah Commonwealth newspaper has written “The Three Rivers Historical Museum evolved from Bequette’s Gift Shop that Jessie operated from 1953 to 1967. The shop later housed Mountain Arts for nearly 20 years, then for a short time was an art gallery before being acquired by the historical society in 1997.”
For those who would like to donate to the museum contact Tom Marshall and the Three Rivers Historical Museum should send checks to 42268 Sierra Dr., P.O. Box 162, Three Rivers, CA 93271. For more information, call 559-561-2707, send e-mail to [email protected] or visit www.3rmuseum.org.