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  • Writer's pictureDerryl Dumermuth

The Pavilion

Long before the Tulare Union High School Auditorium (recently renamed the Community Auditorium), the Tulare Theater, the Veterans Memorial Building, or other massive meeting places in Tulare, there existed the "Pavilion." Located near the center of Tulare's first city park (now known as Zumwalt Park) and facing M Street, the vast wooden building was the venue for many banquets, dances, and political meetings. It was the only place in town big enough for the traveling Chautauqua programs, which brought culture and entertainment to the growing little town.

Tulare's first agricultural exposition, a so-called "Citrus Fair," displayed local produce in the Pavilion for a five day run in October 1893, during the 22nd year of Tulare's existence. Five prominent Tulareans were named directors of the fair. They were: W.F. Ingwerson, owner of a harness shop at the NW corner of Tulare Avenue and M Street, the present site of the Post Office, and Tulare mayor from 1905-1907; P.J.S Montgomery, manager of the vast Paige and Morton Ranch west of town, and builder of the mansion that he named "The Oaks"; John Touhy, land developer, mayor from 1903-1905, and considered one of the "fathers" of Sequoia Park; Andrew Young, blacksmith, real estate developer, and father of long time dentist Dr. Bob Young and A.E. Miot manager of the Tulare Board of Trade and mayor from 1899-1903.

In 1892, the California Chapter of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) held their annual "Encampment," a reunion of Union Civil War veterans, in the Pavilion. The little town's hostelries were hard-pressed to provide accommodations for the scores of aging veterans and their families.

For several years High School graduation exercises were memorable events in the Pavilion. Graduating seniors were seated on stage, with proud relatives and friends on the main floor. Underclassmen occupied the balcony, which ran around three sides of the interior, and conducted a "battle of the banners." Students had contrived on pulleys and ropes and sent colorful class flags slipping and dipping over the heads of the audience below.

On February 26, 1896, famed bandleader John Phillip Sousa brought his musicians to Tulare for a Pavilion concert. Tulare observed the 100th anniversary of that event with a historical marker's unveiling and a brief visit to Tulare by Sousa's grandson. The Tulare Union High School Band (H. William Ingram, director), and the band's Booster Club sponsored the monument's dedication. The town demolished the Pavilion during the early years of the twentieth century. In 2004 they constructed a handsome gazebo in the park, just a few feet south of the old landmark site. On February 26, 2006, exactly 110 years to the day after Sousa's historic visit to Tulare, Tulare dedicated the gazebo as the "John Phillip Sousa Pavilion."

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