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Jun 29

Monterey Street stories – San Luis Obispo

Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo on July 4, 1883. From the collection of Mrs. Doris Shaw.

A few days ago I wrote that this photo had languished in the files of The Tribune, unpublished. A correction is in order; apparently the statement was only half true. The left half of the photo was published in the paper in 1968. The caption under the photo said the historical image was from 1885. The original photo was in two halves and there were two dates in the notes. Upon reading Tribune newspapers on microfilm coverage both years I suspect it is more likely that the image came from 1883 as told here.
The parking areas on either side of the Muzio Building were sacrifices to the almighty car.
Change is a part of a living downtown. The Chinatown project promises change for the area. Here is a view from 1963.
One gap in the smile of Monterey Street was knocked out at the end of the 1960s. The building with the balcony was one of the early public halls and had rambunctious history, scene of bawdy shows on Saturday night, and religious revivals Sunday morning, if those parking spaces could only talk.
By the late 1960s dripping oil and leaky radiators were the excitement planned for the future of the property.

On May 8, 1968 Telegram-Tribune reporter Elliot Curry wrote about a building about to be bulldozed:

Another historic building makes way for parking lot

When David Muzio moved his grocery store into his new brick building at 870 Monterey St. in 1913, his neighbor to the southwest was the old Central Hotel Building, already weathered and worn with age.
That was 55 years ago and now the old frame structure is soon to be torn down to make way for a parking lot. Its last tenants were Pal Joey’s tavern, Rice Travel Service and Pacific Engineers, all of which have moved elsewhere.

May 8, 1968 Telegram-Tribune records the death of the old Cosmopolitan Hotel on Monterey Street.

With the clearing of the site between the Muzio store and the old Sauer Building, the Muzio building will become an island in a sea of parking meters.
The store, now one of the oldest business establishments in the city, has been operated for many years by Albert C. Muzio and his sister, Miss Tina Muzio, son and daughter of the founder.
Many tenants have occupied the old hotel and business building, which extends from 856 through 860 Monterey. St.
Usually, there has been at least one restaurant and a saloon in some part of it. A favorite restaurant for many years was Chiesa’s Cafe and Oyster House, operated by Ferdinand Chiesa.
The Savoy Grill occupied part of the building in the 1920s and yet another tenant was George Brothers’ Greek Restaurant, called the American Cafe.
The upstairs section of the building, which bears the faded sign of the Central Hotel, is not as big as it looks from the front, because the two-story section does not extend the full length of the building. It has been operated under various names for the past 50 years or more as Hotel and apartment building.
Originally, the upstairs contained a public hall, with a small stage and several theater “boxes.” There is a story, handed down by old-timers, of an era when lusty “stag” shows were staged there on Saturday nights, only to be followed on Sunday morning by religious revival services.
The hall and store building probably was constructed during the 1870s. Arthur Sauer, member of one of San Luis Obispo’s earliest business families, recalls that it originally was constructed with a front wall of adobe, from which a covered balcony extended.
At that time, Monterey Street was narrower at that end of the block than at the other. The 10-foot jog in the street was removed about 1914. The Sauer Building was moved back, but the hotel building balcony was removed and the front cut off to meet the new street alignment.
Both Muzio and Sauer have predicted that when the old wooden walls come down, the original adobe foundations and remnants of the old walls likely will be uncovered.
The 800 block on Monterey Street was part of the original business section of San Luis Obispo. Even before it was a street it was the “road to Monterey,” with a few adobe structures scattered along the route across from the mission and up Monterey.
The Muzio store, founded in 1888, moved from across the street to its present home on Feb. 1, 1913. It is the last survivor of the business enterprises which then lined that block.
Jeff Anderson’s clothing store was at the corner now occupied by PG&E. B.J. Latimer had his drugstore where Bello’s is now. Reuben Call an uncle of Undersheriff Al Call, had a harness shop in this block and Dick Bernard operated a cigar store. The A. Sauer & Col bakery and store was in the building now occupied by Holser & Bailey.
Last Friday, bids were opened at City Hall for demolition of the old hotel, construction of the parking lot and demolition of the Ledson Building on Broad Street. Apparent low bidder at $37,590 was C.S. Construction Co, of Pismo Beach.

Related posts:

  1. Monterey Street closed
  2. 1963 San Luis Obispo, Monterey St.
  3. San Luis Obispo builds a City Hall on Higuera Street
  4. Monterey Street 1959
  5. 1968 San Luis Obispo at night