Monday, May 19, 2008

Powers Building ~ Clarendon Hotel 1879 & 1882

Located on Miner Street in "Old Town" Yreka between Broadway and Third Streets, the building with the "pink" second story and the "green" ground floor was originally known as the W. W. Powers Building, and had three different business suites in a single story when it was built in 1879. In 1882 the second story was added with 22 rooms and it became the Powers Hotel. A few years later, in 1888, the business became known as the Clarendon Hotel and operated for more than 75 years under that name! In 1897 the building underwent extensive remodeling and was the first hotel in Yreka to be wired for electricity! It also had a very nice observation deck off of the second story which also served as a covered walkway for patrons and people walking along the boardwalk below. This deck was often favored during festivities and parades as it afforded a great view. In a description of the Clarendon Hotel in 1891 it was advertised that the rates for a room began at $1.25. According to historical information the Clarendon Bar was in a building adjacent to the Hotel. A fine image of this hotel as it was seen when relatively "new" can be found in the 1976 Siskiyou Pioneer, an annual publication of the Siskiyou County Historical Society. Reprints of this book may still be available at the Siskiyou County Museum located at 910 S. Main Street in Yreka, California.

The building is brick with a stucco finish as it appears today in the photo above. The basic structure of the building has not drastically changed, although the windows on the ground floor business suites have been modernized and enlarged considerably. The upstairs windows appear similar to early photos of the building with the curved archway at the top. The stucco exterior was likely added sometime after the turn of the century.

The street level has accommodated various businesses throughout the many years this building has stood. The current paint theme certainly brings notice to the building but is not a exterior color scheme that this writer believes would have been viewed after the turn of the century when the original brick was stuccoed. 
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Franco-American Hotel 1850's

The Franco-American Hotel is one of Yreka's major landmarks. It is located in the 300 block of Miner Street in the heart of the "old town" Yreka. For many years it was a major hotel that served many who traveled "well". Among notables who stayed here, President Hayes and his family lodged here in 1880. The original building is reported to have been a narrow two story brick home built sometime in the early 1850s. In 1855 a Frenchman, Leon Marniesse, purchased the house and it soon became the Franco-American Hotel. [The exterior photo above was taken during Yreka's 150th Celebration of the city's incorporation in 2007. ]

Over the years many changes and improvements were made to this property. A big change came in 1867 when Mr. Marniesse increased the frontage of the building and added a second story and balcony. Mr. Marniesse owned and operated the building until his death just a year later in 1868.

Mr. John B. Rohrer obtained the Hotel following Mr. Marniesse's death and operated the hotel with a first class restaurant for many years. During this time both North and Southbound stages stopped here on a regular basis. After the railroad came to the area in the late 1880s "hacks" (buggies for hire) carried guests and visitors from the train depot (either from Montague depot or Yreka depot) to the hotel.

Around the turn of the century, 1899-1900 the ownership was held by a Charles Bohnart and managed by Charles Herzog. Further improvements and building enlargements were made during this time. It is interesting to note that today, behind this vintage building, is an apartment complex. This apartment building was once a part of the Franco-American Hotel and a portion of it served as a new dining room and the upstairs with additional suites. It was moved north from the building to where it sits today.

During the 1940s the name was changed to Hotel Yreka and the facade was changed dramatically. The balcony was removed and the building had a more "modern" streamlined look to it. During the mid 1970s when Yreka received the designation of a National Historic District the building facade was restored to its 1880s appearance.

Today the building still serves businesses on the street level as it has for 150 years! The hotel is no longer in operation and has been partially rejuvenated.  The upstairs currently serves as a residence. For those of you that might have a copy of our book, Yreka, Images of America by Arcadia Publishing you can find other views and information on pages 4, 13, 45, and 52.

Copyright: Claudia East, 2008 ~ updated 2015

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Louis Wetzel Home 1896

Locally this has been known as the "Honeymoon Cottage" according to a historical account published in Houses That Talk written by Fred J. Meamber and R. Bernice Soule Meamber in 1986. Originally built and known as the Louis J. Wetzel home for his June bride, Gertrude Nixon. Gertrude was the daughter of the local newspaper editor of the Yreka Journal, Mr. Robert Nixon. This home is located at 327 Third Street, Yreka, California in the heart of the National Historic District. Local folklore tells us that Robert Nixon was a direct ancestor of the former U. S. President, Richard Nixon, but to date no direct proof in scholarly form has been seen by this author.

Louis went into business and joined his father in his mercantile endeavors on Miner Street in downtown Yreka. The young couple had three children while they lived here. In 1910, however, the Wetzels sold the cottage to a family member and moved to Oakland, California where Mr. Wetzel went into the real estate business and did quite well. He lived in the new district of Oakland Hills.

Within a couple of years the home sold again to a Forest Supervisor, a Mr. William B. Rider. Following that transaction the home has sold several times throughout the years until the present.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Guilbert & Siskiyou County Bank Building 1872 & 1899

Still sitting proudly on the Northeast corner of Miner and Third Streets is a victorian business building that has served the community of Yreka and the surrounding area for over 100 years. Prior to the great fire of 1871 another building sat on this spot and was owned by a Buenaventura Guilbert. The building hosted a variety of businesses including a billiard saloon, a boot store and coffee and lunch stand. The building was rebuilt following the fire and was back in operation by 1872. At this time Mr. Guilbert had a soda factory in the building, and auction sales were regularly held in the front portion of the structure. This building even served as one of the main exhibit halls during the local County Fair for a number of years. During this time it was a single story structure.

Between the years of 1878 and 1886 a variety of businesses occupied the premises. In July of 1886 the Siskiyou County Bank and the Wells, Fargo Express Company moved in to the building. At this time a vault was built expressly for the bank and Wells, Fargo. In 1899 the building was enlarged with a second story. Folks who may have travelled to Yreka at the turn of the century would still recognize this building today. A few changes have occurred over the years, but the basic structure has remained intact, the largest changes being the front door that originally was at the corner on Third Street rather than in the center location where it appears today. This building operated as a bank from 1886 until 1955.

Since 1955 there have been a wide variety of businesses that have occupied this building. It currently has a rather "fanciful" painted theme, however, for a vast majority of its years the building was a light plain color on the stucco exterior, and prior to being stuccoed and painted, it was simply brick.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Maurice Renner Home 1900

The home pictured here was built in 1900 and is located at 500 Center Street in Yreka, California. The home was originally built by Maurice Renner who was born in Switzerland in 1839 and immigrated to the United States in 1863 according to the Great Register of Siskiyou County. Unverified history tells us that he came originally for the gold!

He married Amelia Vetterlein in Yreka in November of 1867. He had four known children born of this union, Josephine, Louis, Charles, and Amelia. According to the 1880 census information Maurice and his family were living on Center Street and his wife, Amelia had cancer at the time. Also according to census records both in 1870 and 1880 Mr. Renner is listed as a saloon keeper. The Siskiyou Historical Society has a publication (Siskiyou Pioneer, 1981) that lists Mr. Renner as the Proprietor of the Eagle Saloon, which once stood on Miner Street. He also served as a Notary Public for Siskiyou County.

Whether Mr. Renner built this home in the same (or near same) location as his previous home is not currently known, but he lived on Center Street from at least 1870 until his death in 1908. This home may have been built for his second marriage, which occurred in December of 1900 to a Christina Iffland. In 1910 Mrs. Renner (Christina) is listed in the city directory.

Today the home has been lovingly restored and sits as a fine example of a turn of the century home. Center Street is one of the older residential areas in Yreka being located only a block or so from Courthouse Square and within a couple of blocks of Miner Street where the main business section has been since the 1850's.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Chamberlain-Stimmel Building Circa 1855

Located on the corner of West Miner and North Oregon Street in Yreka is this wonderful old brick building. On the side is a historical plaque that provides some information about the building's past. This is one of the few buildings in Yreka that escaped the terrible fire of 1871 that burned something like 13 blocks of town! In old photos of Miner Street dated from the Modoc War period this building can be seen.

It is unknown when the first brick was laid, but in 1856, just five years after the discovery of gold in Yreka this building was purchased by a H. E. Stimmel, a immigrant from Germany, and he bought the building from a Mr. William Chamberlain. Mr. Stimmel opened a stove shop, selling parlor and cooking stoves; he later broadened his stock to include more general hardware. In many old photos along the top edge of the building in letters large enough to be read clearly from a distance one could see the words, stove, hardware, etc. For many years a wooden awning covered the walkways completely on both street sides.

Around 1900 Mr. Stimmel went to his grave and the building was sold. It was later remodeled a bit with larger glass windows. At this writing an exact date is unknown, but likely by 1910 (or earlier) the downstairs of this building served the city of Yreka as the U. S. Post Office. The postal service was here until the Warrens Building (previously located on Miner and Broadway) was built in 1931. Mr. Warrens specifically designed a portion of that building for the Post Office. In addition to being home to the Post Office, this building has seen many businesses come and go including such things as a grocery, fruit store, mortuary, clothing store, art gallery and others. One of the unique features of the building is the tin ceiling in the main downstairs area. It has been elaborately painted and is worth the walk downtown just to take a look!

Currently the downstairs portion of this building is home to the Daily Grind, a coffee and sandwich shop. It is the only coffee shop in Yreka at this writing that has free Wi-Fi so out of town visitors often stop here to squeeze in a few minutes online while they enjoy their favorite coffee or tea.
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yreka Rail Station 1888 & 1910

The railroads of the late 1800's and early 1900's were exciting in so many ways! It suddenly provided transportation at wonderful new speeds ~ and a new way to expand one's business and pleasure. Yreka was thrilled when the first news (around 1873) of a California & Oregon Railroad was coming our way! Unfortunately by 1886 Yreka was given the gloomy news that the railroad would be bypassing the city and finding a less expensive route. In 1888 the Yreka Railroad began construction to lay a track to the small town of Montague about 7 1/2 miles away to meet up with the California & Oregon Railroad. The city fathers knew without rail service Yreka would be in financial trouble. Within one year the new Yreka Railroad was open for business!

The original station was located near what is now South Main and Broadway, where the roads merge, at the "Y". It served Yreka there until about 1910. The station was rebuilt to the East of Yreka Creek where it remains today. The move was prompted by several very bad floods of Yreka Creek and damage interrupted the rail traffic. 1901 saw one of the worst floods and there are numerous vintage photos of this event in local history books largely courtesy of the Siskiyou County Museum.

The current station is larger than the original, but has the same appearance as the original depot. This railroad route has been through many changes over the years and currently operates the "Blue Goose Train" ~ an excursion for locals, tourists, and railroad fans! They have a nice website you may wish to visit: Yreka Western If you visit Yreka in the summertime, this is a great activity!

The Yreka Railroad has had a rich yet sometimes fretful history, it has been a very important part of the city of Yreka and has influenced her history beyond measure.

Copyright: Claudia East

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Parr-Steele House 1900

It was 1900 and a traveling dentist, Dr. William Parr decided to stay in Yreka and build a home for his family. History tells us that he designed this home himself and had it built by a local contractor/builder, Mr. O. A. Bennett. [Interestingly enough, Mr. Bennett won the contract for adding the North and South Wings onto the original Siskiyou County Courthouse and was a notable figure in town.] It is reported that the original cost of this home for Dr. Parr was $2,500. Dr. Parr lived in the home only a short two years and then sold the property. It changed hands again in 1905 and Mr. O. G. Steele purchased the home. Mr. Steele lived in the home until his death in 1976.

The home stands today at 415 Third Street in Yreka, California. A major portion of Third Street has been honored with the distinction of being a National Historic District. At the Yreka Chamber of Commerce visitors can pick up a brochure that includes a walking tour of the Historic District and this home is one of the ones listed on the tour. It is a delightful walk from the "old downtown" Historic District.

The interior of the home has retained the vast majority of its original character, with a very unusual spiral staircase that encompases the entire "tower section" of the building. The home has a lovely entrance with the impressive staircase at the right and large pocket doors that lead into the interior of the home. Today the home boasts a total of 3,437 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. There is a formal study, formal dining room, and "parlor" in addition to a lovely sun porch.

Copyright: Claudia East

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Siskiyou County Courthouse 1857

Pictured is the original Siskiyou County Courthouse situated in the center of Courthouse Square, this photo is from the 1880's. It is the two-story brick building located within the white picket fence. The brick Catholic church can be seen at the center of the photo. The smaller brick building to the right of the church with the brick fence, was the jail.
Gold was discovered in the immediate area of Yreka in 1851, and within one year the California legislature created Siskiyou County. Yreka was named as the county seat. For the first few years the county offices and courtroom were in rented buildings and places within the town. Typical of many gold rush towns, Yreka's courtroom was located at a local saloon and place of lodging. It served as a courtroom and offices during the day, and saloon and lodging at night.

By 1856 the county had put money aside for the courthouse to be built. Building commenced and in 1857 a new brick two story courthouse was located in the middle of Yreka's only public square.

In 1871 woman's sufferage came to Yreka! Susan B. Anthony addressed a large audience right from the courthouse steps and gave a passionate speech on behalf of her beliefs. One of the local papers, The Yreka Journal provided an interesting editorial article on this particular event.

This two story courthouse served Yreka from 1857 to 1896 when North and South wings were added to the existing structure along with a cupola. During the same time cornices over the doors and windows were added along with porticos and a new roof. The original courthouse still remains within the walls today, although barely visible.

In 1910 the county added a new and expanded Hall of Records just south and adjacent to the courthouse. This updated courthouse and lovely Hall of Records was a strong source of civic pride for many years. Many of the historic photographs of the courthouse show a lovely scene of the main building, the Hall of Records and a nicely groomed courthouse square with walkways, trees, and decorative landscaping.

During 1953-54 a new major building project was undertaken for courthouse improvements. A much larger, newer, "more moderne" building was built ~ right in the exact front of the old original courthouse! The orginial buildings are still there hidden from view from the larger more international style building. If one walks around the backside of what little remains of courthouse square the original 1896 structure can be seen, and with a little imagination even the original 1851 portion of the building. Today many folks lament about this large edifice right in front of our once lovely and gracious courthouse and wonder "what were they thinking"? Had they only built it on an adjacent empty lot...

It is interesting to note that the once stately Hall of Records was physically built into this new structure, photos from the construction shows the walls going up around the existing Hall.
The Siskiyou County Courthouse is one of the oldest in the state and has existed without any fire damage from the beginning to today. These wonderful buildings are a strong link to our past and should continue to be revered for the activities and history which they have been priviledged to "see".
Copyright: Claudia East, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

Siskiyou County High School, Yreka 1894

The first (and then) only high school in Siskiyou County was built in Yreka in 1894. Students came from throughout the county to attend high school here. The school was located on the corner of North Oregon and Knapp Streets. The first graduating class was in 1896, with eight students listed on the roster. It is interesting to note that for many years the school physically stood just outside the official city limits to the North of town. The city limit was right at the south edge of the school property.

This fine building was one of major civic pride. The high school was usually mentioned when promoting the city of Yreka or the County of Siskiyou. The County prepared a special booklet for the 1915 Panama Exposition in San Francisco and among the entries was acclaim for the excellence of the school.

On October 3, 1916 fire broke out late at night and the entire building was consumed. The only thing that remained in the morning was the first two floors outer brick walls. It was a total loss to the community. The Siskiyou News ran an article about the fire on October 5, 1916. The building was insured, however, and plans were quickly made to rebuild a newer, more modern building.

Where this fine building once stood, the City and County rebuilt a new school ~ which is also gone today. Currently the same spot is occupied by a small sports park and all vestiges of this once proud building are gone except for a plaque at the park entrance.
Copyright: Claudia East

Saturday, May 3, 2008

F. S. Ackerman House 1879 (rebuilt 1899)

Located at the northernmost corner of the "official" Historic District on the National Register, this house still stands.
The building has had essentially two "lives". It was originally erected in 1879 in a different location, about 2 blocks south where the Fry House built in 1899 is located. (Currently the Fry House is the locally famous James Place Antiques) When Charles Fry decided to build he needed to tear down this 1879 home. Mr. Frank Ackerman, a local pharmacist, was happy to help!

Mr. Ackerman purchased the lumber, windows, and other parts of the house and had it rebuilt on his lot at the corner of Third and Lennox Streets. He did add to the house and with his wife's wishes as history is reported, that it was her desire for a curved porch. The main portion of the house was rebuilt in a design similar to the original.

Mr. Ackerman served as the pharmacist and manager of the Churchill Drug Store for over 30 years. In 1918 he along with his son purchased the Drug Store and operated it as the Ackerman Drug Store for another 10 years.

This house is located at 419 Third Street and is listed on the historic walking tour of Yreka pamphlet available at the Chamber of Commerce.
Copyright: Claudia East

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The John E. Pashburg Home 1900

The John E. Pashburg home was built in 1900 on North Oregon Street in Yreka. At the time it was built the home was on the edge of town. Across the street and about 1/3 of a block north stood the Siskiyou County High School a wonderful victorian building erected in 1894.

John E. Pashburg was the son of one of Yreka's founding fathers, a merchant who arrived in Yreka about 1854 just 3 years from the first discovery of gold here. John E. Pashburg built this home for his then soon-to-be bride, Mable Rogene DeWitt. The home was completed just prior to their wedding in October of 1900. The Pashburg's lived in this home and raised their family here and then sold the home in 1928. John E. Pashburg served as the County Treasurer/Tax Collector for many years as well as eventually inheriting a portion of his father's merchandise business and operating it along with his brother-in-law.

The home as pictured has been remodeled both inside and out the first occurring around 1916. The upstairs was originally only one large bedroom and bath according to historical information. The upstairs suffered a major fire in 1934 and was rebuilt that same year to accommodate the entire size of the downstairs floor plan.

Each and every home in Yreka has their own unique story to tell ~ the historic homes are especially interesting.
Copyright: Claudia East