Kern County Historical Society has a Walking Tour of “Eastchester”

Hector Martinez, Features Editor 

Hector Martinez
Ken Hooper reads from his tablet some history of a Buddhist Church located on 2207 N St.

Ken Hooper, the president of the Kern County Historical Society (KCHS) and Archiving teacher at Bakersfield High School, conducted a Walking Tour of the “Eastchester” on Oct. 6. The tour began on the corner of 18th and R streets around 10 a.m. and finished at Narducci’s Burger & Italian Ice around 11:30 a.m. 

Hooper explained that he has been doing walking tours for the KCHS for nearly five years. 

“I started with a quarter of the downtown and I’ve been moving down block by block,” Hooper said. 

He also explained that he lets his students do the research for the walking tours beforehand.

“When I finish here in the downtown area I might just go to the Baker Street old Kern area town. I’ll let my students do some research of it,” Hooper said. 

One of the first buildings visited on the tour was the New China Cafe located at 801 18th street. Hooper explained that the cafe opened for the first time in 1928.

Hector Martinez
The New China Cafe building located at 801 18th St. with the green tiles with the Chinese characters meaning fortune and longevity.

“The owner was Di Toy, and told architect Clarence Cullimore how he wanted his cafe,” Hooper said.

The outside of the building has green tiles with ornamental Chinese characters and Hooper explained that the meaning of them is “fortune and longevity.”

Another place that was visited on the walking tour was the corner of 19th and O streets. Hooper explained some history of the building with a sign that reads “Power House.”

“In 1940 that building used to be a gas station and then it was sold and became a paint store. This current building is now a speed shop and it helps to get your cars to run faster,” he said. 

After learning some history about the “Power House” building Hooper asked everyone to move to Sinaloa Mexican Dinners located on the corner of 20th and P streets. He explained that the dinner used was the first Kern Children’s Shelter and it opened in 1909. The land for the shelter was donated by Ellen M. Baker the wife of former colonel Thomas Baker. 

Hector Martinez
The handprints and footprints on the stairs of the children who lived on the first Kern Children’s Shelter in 1909.

In 1909 there were 24 children living in the shelter and 60 by the year after. 

The children of the shelter got sick with diseases such as Scarlet fever and measles for a few weeks. 

“Unfortunately, two of the children did die of those diseases while they were in the shelter, and some internet sites do mention that this place is haunted because of those children that die there,” Hooper said.

Footprints and handprints of the children that use to live in the shelter are still on the concrete by the stairs of the house.

One of the audience members that attended to the Walking Tour of the Eastchester, Linda Enyeart, explained her first-time experience on her first walking tour. 

“I really liked the Buddhist Church that we visited at the end of the tour. My husband and I really enjoyed this walking tour, and we got a lot of history about Bakersfield,” Enyeart said. 

She also said that young people should take advantage of opportunities like walking tours to learn more about the local history of Bakersfield.

Hector Martinez
People checking Buddhist Church on 2207 N St. which was the last place visited on the walking tour.