The article below is copyrighted by Yreka (Historic) Preservation and reprinted by permission. It originally appeared in the February/March 1984 edition of Yreka Echoes Newsletter. Please note some of the businesses are no longer at the locations mentioned.
An eventful year in our historic past was 1871, when a fire ravaged nearly one-third of the town of
. The fire started in a Chinese wash house west
of Second Street (Broadway), pinpointed by the old-timers as approximately
where the Yreka Flower Shop is now, 208 West Miner Street, and in one hour’s
time left the town in ruins due to shifting winds carrying the fire from street
to street. It was ten years before
rebuilding began on what became known as the Baldwin Block, where Ohlund’s
Office Supply and the Miner Street Meat Market now resides. Yreka
In 1881 contractors J. W. Riddle and Al Smith began construction on the building for Mrs. W. I. Nichols, whose father was Rev. J. T. Baldwin, a Presbyterian minister and graduate of
in the class of 1823. Her husband was a local attorney. Princeton University
The building was a large 100 by 80-foot brick structure, with a space in back designed for offices or sleeping rooms. Work progressed slowly, since they worked through the winter and mortar and plastered walls did not dry well due to freezing temperatures. An outstanding feature of building in that era was the substantial board walks constructed in front of the building; and the basements were large and well drained by deep sewers running into Yreka Creek.
The first business to open where Ohlund’s Office Supply is now located was a saloon. On June 3, 1882 the Portuguese Billiard Saloon opened its doors for business, operated by Frank Roberts and A. S. Oliver. They spared no effort or expense in making it one of the “handsomest” places of “public resort” in the country. The bar, made by Mr. Oliver, was located on the east side of the saloon and a shooting gallery, at 25¢ for six shots, attracted local sportsmen on the west side. A
pool table was the center focal point.
Quoting from the Yreka Journal of June 3, 1882: “No boys under 18
permitted as a preventive of becoming a hoodlum resort.” Virginia
The building was sold by Mrs. Nichols (Jennie T. Nichols) to N. B. Julien October 20, 1882 for the sum of $5,084.50, and in 1885 the saloon was known as the Roberts Saloon. By 1892 the building was being used as a sample room for the Clarendon Hotel across the street.
A new steel roof was put on the entire Baldwin Block in 1899 by Mr. Julien, the owner, who hired Iunker Brothers to cover the 9,000 square foot space. New chimneys were made, and new skylights coated with iron sheeting. The rear portion above the brick wall was covered with iron to make the block as near fireproof as possible.
The Walker-Avery Drug Store was the next business in this location. Extensive improvements were made before the proprietors occupied the store in May, 1900, which made the store “the most beautiful, modern building north of
.” A new façade was erected with a plate glass
front and two doors, and a beautifully refurbished interior. Quoting the Yreka Journal of May 26,
1903, “C. W. Avery has a cozy and neat arbor or tent in the center of his drug
store, where partees [sic] can enjoy refreshments during warm days in the way
of ice cream, ice cream soda, and various kinds of temperance beverages.” Sacramento
Look for Part 2 of this article in the next blog post...