Monday, November 19, 2012

J. P. Churchill Building

Gone, but not forgotten!

Located on the northwest corner of Main and Miner Streets, Yreka, CA

Photo:  Courtesy of Yreka Preservation

In 1851 while Yreka was in its early infancy, Jerome Churchill arrived at the “flats” and erected a general merchandise store in a tent on what is now the Northwest corner of Miner and Main.  Almost everything constructed during that time was temporary -- merchants stayed in business as long as the miners came and money was to be made.  Unfortunately Churchill’s tent, according to research, burned twice during the first few years, so in 1855 he built a permanent structure from brick for his store on the corner of Main and Miner.  In 1871 the “great conflagration” happened and the building was burned out.  One third of Yreka burned that fateful day in July.  The building was repaired from the walls and continued to be home to a general merchandise store for a number of years.

It is not known when the general merchandise store was moved elsewhere, but for several years the building was home to at least two or three different saloons.  It housed the Last Chance Saloon, (not to be confused with the long established Last Chance Saloon previously in neighboring Hornbrook) and later the Branch Saloon (later renamed the Bella Union Saloon).  It is roughly estimated that the building was home to the saloons between 1890 and 1915.

In 1919 a newspaper article said that the Electric Supply Company was busy moving into the building and that the back half of the building would become home to the California-Oregon Power Company (COPCO) for a repair shop.   It was only two years later that the California-Oregon Power Company purchased the building from Churchill and occupied the entire structure.  [If you have a copy of the book, Yreka, Images of America you can view a portion of this building as it appeared when owned by the power company on page 20.]

In 1933 the power company was getting prepared to replace the building with a newer more modern one that would be two stories high and sport a full basement.  For several reasons this never materialized and the offices were moved.  For a number of years COPCO was at home in the DeWitt & Peters Building (the current Elks Building) at the corner of Miner and North Oregon Streets.

In 1934 major changes were happening in Yreka.  The State of California decided there was a definite need to widen Main Street a full twenty feet from city limit to city limit.  Main Street at the time served as the State Highway 99 and the traffic had increased considerably from former days.  To accommodate the new requirements twenty feet was slashed from property fronting Main Street.  In some blocks the entire twenty feet was taken from one side only, at other places it was half on one side and half on the other.  The State wanted a straight shot through town.

Once the construction was finished, the Lot 1, Block 28 at the northwest corner of Main and Miner was an empty lot.  The building had been razed and the J. P. Churchill Building was gone forever.  The current building located at this spot was completed in 1937.  Today this corner is home to the Miner Street Sports Bar.
Copyright, Claudia East