154 years in the life of a Nevada City lot
Clark Street in Nevada City is one block long and spans the distance between South Pine and Sacramento streets. Today, there are two addresses on the south side of the street, each of a single family dwelling. For many years, a single commercial structure with living space on the second level occupied the entire south side of the block and was numbered “108.” There are decades of gaps in this photo feature. It was impossible to photograph the chronological progression of all that occupied the real property; I’m not that old! Let’s begin with a litho reproduction from “A History of Nevada County, California-1880,” by Harry L. Wells, better know by its publishers’ names, Thompson & West. Then we’ll jump into the 20th century and then today.
A) Seaman’s Carriage & Wagon Factory, 1873. Artistic license has been taken to bring the lot to street level. William Seaman, a native of Ohio, engaged in “carriage smithing” in many eastern states before coming California in the early 1860s. He arrived in Nevada City in 1873, and opened his business in the pictured building in that year.
The building is reported to have housed the Nevada Flouring Mill as early as 1853. Remnants of equipment used to transport wheat were in the building as late as 1973. The mill was operated by William D. Tilley and William Bennett.
Throughout the balance of the 19th century, following Seaman’s occupancy and well into the 20th century, the building had a variety of tenants.
(B) Wheel & Frame Service, in 1960, was operated by Felix Chapdelaine This advertisement is from Pacific Telephone’s Special Telephone Directory issued in July 1960, on the occasion of phone service going from operator assisted to direct dialed calls. Note the structure is still called the Seaman Building.
(C) Undated, 108 Clark St., possibly late 1950s or 1960s.
(D) “108 Clark is on fire!” The alarm was sounded shortly before 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14, 1973, that the Nevada City Body and Paint Shop, the Volkswagen Parts Center and an upstairs apartment, were burning. The 120-year-old, two-story-frame building was destroyed by a fire reportedly started by a welding torch in a downstairs portion and quickly “climbed right up the wall to the apartment.” Two fire trucks from Nevada City, three from 49er and two from Gold Flat fire departments responded. California Division of Forestry sent units and men. In all, about 40 firemen fought the blaze, according to Larry Parson, spokesman for the Nevada City Fire Department. The property was owned by Art Hudson, who also was part owner of the shop.
(E) 108 and 106 Clark St., 2006- Today two single family dwellings occupy the Clark Street lot.
Photos by Bob Wyckoff and from the Vervalin Collection.
Bob Wyckoff is a retired Nevada County newspaper editor/publisher and author of local history publications available at your favorite local bookstore. He is currently lecturing Elderhostel groups on gold mining and mines in Nevada County. Reach him at: email@example.com or PO Box 216, Nevada City CA 95959.
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