Q: I have a student at Bakersfield High School. He tells me that Warren Hall was built where a hospital once was, that people who died in that hospital were buried in Elm Grove, and that Harvey Auditorium is haunted. Well?
-- Susan St. Laurent
A: Ken Hooper, history and archives instructor at Bakersfield High School, answers: In 1875, the Kern General Hospital was built in the current site of what we now call Elm Grove on the campus of Bakersfield High School. The hospital was removed in 1893 to make room for the first building on Kern County High School campus, the Commercial Building.
When the Commercial Building was demolished in 1936, and the Manual Arts building in 1939, the empty space created what the students began calling Elm Grove. Harvey Auditorium was originally designed to be constructed in this now-empty square block in 1940, but the students protested the loss of green space. The Kern High School District subsequently purchased the current site of Harvey Auditorium to maintain the green space.
Warren Hall, originally the Bakersfield Junior College Building, was built in three separate sections starting in 1929-1931, adjacent to California Avenue.
Haunted? Yes, there have been strange and unexplained sounds and sightings over the years.
Q: Does the city or county keep any kind of data records on suicides? Specifically, is there any data on how many people commit suicide by gender and/or age? Is there any kind of pattern over the years?
-- Whitney Weddell
A: Dawn Ratliff, manager of the Kern County Coroner's Office, replies: Yes, the Coroner's Office keeps data on suicides and both age and gender data are obtained. The annual number of suicides has been consistent plus/minus 10 since 2009 when records were computerized. Male suicide is the most common regardless of age.
Q: It is impossible to turn onto Panama Lane and Albany Gate when leaving the 42nd Street tract homes. You can only make a right turn and have to go onto Panama Lane and Old River to head back east on Panama. Over the past year the power lines have been relocated. Are there any plans to make a turn lane or a signal light? There is a storage unit in the works -- are there any future plans with that as well?
-- Julian Palacios
A: Ryan Starbuck, traffic engineer with the city's Public Works department, answers: The raised center median on Panama at Albany Gate allows left turns in, but prevents left turns out, of the residential development. As the area continues to develop Panama Lane will be widened to six lanes and the raised median will continue to the east and west.
For safety, medians are used on major roadways like Panama Lane to prevent full access at the non-signalized intersections. Eventually, the intersection of Panama Lane and Old River will be expanded so vehicles can make a U-turn at the signal to head back to the east. Also, depending on how the north and south side of Panama Lane develops, there may be a median break opportunity to allow U-turns prior to the intersection at Old River.
No additional signals are planned for this segment of Panama Lane (between the railroad tracks and Old River Road).
Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to email@example.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.