The Lemon Cove Women’s Club may be on summer hiatus, but members are already planning for its big fall fundraising event. The annual yard sale is scheduled for the first weekend in October and donations are currently be accepted.
Think of the club this summer when cleaning out closets, the garage, or a storage room. A majority of the proceeds from the club’s activities go to the upkeep and maintenance of the group’s clubhouse, which is the historic Pogue Hotel on Highway 198 in Lemon Cove that the club has been charged with preserving.
It is not mandatory to be a resident of Lemon Cove to be a member of the Women’s Club. To join the club or to arrange a time to deliver donations for the fall yard sale, call 597-1416.
Here is the history of the Lemon Cove Women’s Clubhouse:
Pogue Hotel, 1879-1903
The Pogue Hotel, originally called “The Cottonwoods,” was constructed by a ranching partnership formed in the 1870s by J.B. Wallace and C.W. Crocker of San Francisco, and J.W.C. Pogue, resident superintendent. At the height of the Mineral King silver rush, the Wallace, Crocker, and Pogue Company was organized for the purpose of buying ranch land to raise livestock.
Initially, the company grazed sheep; operations were expanded to cattle and grain farming. The ranch was known as the “Cove,” the area being well-suited for cultivation of grain.
In 1881, Wallace died and the company was reorganized. Mrs. Wallace took her one-third, over 3,000 acres in the western part of the Cove, and the property became known as the Wallace Ranch. J.W.C. Pogue purchased the Crocker share and became sole owner of the hotel and 6,000 acres.
J.W.C. Pogue, who served two terms as a Tulare County supervisor, was solely responsible for the introduction of lemons to Tulare County. In 1885, he exhibited lemons at the Los Angeles Fair and won a blue ribbon.
The Pogue Hotel — as the two-story, 13-room lodging facility was known after the consolidation — accommodated travelers on the road to the Mineral King mining district and the Kaweah Colony. It was here that the Mineral King stage changed from horses to mules for the long uphill journey.
Timber teamsters, tourists, and other travelers found the hotel a convenient stopover. Meals were served to diners even if they weren’t overnight guests, and the hotel soon became a popular gathering place.
In 1894, J.W.C. Pogue surveyed 15 acres of the family ranch, dividing the parcel into 48 town lots. He named the town Lemon Cove, though later the post office changed the spelling to “Lemoncove” to avoid confusion with Lemon Grove. The Pogue Hotel and Store (located on a lot north of the hotel and eventually contained the community’s post office) evolved as the town center and, in the early part of the 20th century, the town’s population grew to 500.
Although there was a hotel, store, post office, blacksmith shop, and more, there were no saloons. J.W.C. Pogue, who never smoked or drank, outlawed them within the town limits.
In 1904, Nora Alice Pogue (1884-1984), the youngest of J.W.C. and Melvina Blair Pogue’s nine children, was deeded the Pogue Hotel, which had been her birthplace. In that same year, she married Dr. Robert Bruce Montgomery (1880-1966), Lemon Cove’s first resident physician and justice of the peace.
The Montgomerys remodeled the hotel and changed it into a single-family residence. After the hotel was converted to a residence, a small business block was developed in the vicinity.
James William Center Pogue returned to live with his daughter and her husband during the last years of his life. In 1907, he died there at the age of 68.
Lemon Cove Women’s
In the 1930s, there was a consciousness on the part of local residents as to the historical importance and community function of the former hotel and current home. In 1936, Nora Pogue Montgomery, who had been a founding member of the Lemon Cove Community Club in 1924, deeded conditional use of the house and the one-quarter acre of land on which it is situated to the club.
This conveyance coincided with the official charter of the community club as the Lemon Cove Women’s Club. The deed stipulated that the property would revert back to Pogue heirs in the event that the building was no longer used by the club.
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Today, the club still meets in this former hotel and home, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 (by John Elliott).
The historic setting of the Pogue Hotel hasn’t changed much since its construction in 1879. The original decision as to building placement was influenced by the location of the nearby wagon road that connected Visalia and Mineral King.
In later years, the old county road was improved and realigned and the historic building is now on the east side of and adjacent to State Highway 198.