Redwood City, California

Driving around the side roads around the bay area was fun but at the same time, it made us hungry. So after our visit to the Union Cemetery, we went to the nearby Burger King and had our lunch/snack there since its past 1pm. It wasn’t crowded and it was nice to relax a little bit. Then we took the route to Main Street. As we headed to downtown Redwood City here is some background about this city.

Welcome sign

“Redwood City is rich in history and local lore. As the oldest city on the San Francisco Peninsula, Redwood City has a long and varied history. Originally a port town during the Gold Rush, Redwood City became the County Seat of the newly formed San Mateo County in 1856. Downtown grew into a vital center for commerce, government, and manufacturing in the early 20th Century, before declining in the 1960s and 1970s. During the late 1900s and early 2000s Downtown Redwood City began revitalizing, and this revitalization continues today.


Redwood City incorporated in 1867, the first city to do so in San Mateo County, and it has been the county seat since the county was formed in 1856. The land had been part of the Rancho de las Pulgas granted to the Arguello family in 1835 by the Mexican government. Their control was challenged after the Mexican–American War when California became part of the United States. The family lawyer, Simon M. Mezes, in 1854 defended the claim somewhat successfully and was allowed to buy the part of the estate that is now Redwood City. Mezes sold some of the lands to people already squatting on it along the banks of Redwood Creek and named the settlement, Mezesville. Though the city did not keep that name, Mezes Park still exists on land Mezes had given for open space.

4th of July in downtown Redwood

In 1907 Eikichi and Sadakusi Enomoto, Japanese immigrant brothers grew perhaps the first chrysanthemums commercially in the United States in Redwood City. In 1926 the chamber of commerce proclaimed the city the “Chrysanthemum Center of the World” through the internment of Japanese Americans in 1941 and other factors removed flower growing as a major industry in the city.”

Creatively design building in downtown

Some of the buildings built in the late 19th century to the early 20th century were still preserved in the city. We found some local parking and split Ta Bing and Ta Eps leisured around while Deelow and I hunt for our historical places.

Of course, the biggest and most dominant structure in the city was the old courthouse itself. It was now converted into a museum and unfortunately, since its Monday, it was close. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. So we satisfied ourselves by taking a picture outside.

Old San Mateo County Courthouse

“San Mateo County has built four courthouses on the block of land originally donated by Simon Mezes and the Arguello Family, owners of Rancho Las Pulgas. The top floor of the 1858 courthouse was destroyed in the 1868 earthquake. The remaining floor served as an annex to the second courthouse built-in 1882.

Old San Mateo County Courthouse

Due to the growth of the county and the desire for a grander building, a third, larger courthouse was designed just behind the second one. Completed shortly before the 1906 earthquake, only the dome structure survived. The dome was incorporated into the fourth courthouse. Designed by Glenn Allen, it was built in the Roman and Renaissance revival styles. Known as the Temple of Justice, it opened on July 4, 1910.


In the early 1900s, the courthouse was home to all county government. In addition to the courtroom, the Board of Supervisors, Sheriff, Coroner, Auditor, Treasurer, County Clerk, Assessor, Tax Collector, District Attorney, Recorder and Superintendent of Schools had offices in the building. 

In 1939, the front facade of the building was removed and the Fiscal Building was added. In 1941, a second annex was added to the back of the building. Both buildings were WPA projects. In 1958, an 8-story building called the Hall of Records and Justice was built near the courthouse.

Local Post Office

By the 1990s, the courthouse no longer met modern court needs. In 1998, the San Mateo County History Museum had the opportunity to move into the building. The History Museum has developed exhibits where you can explore the county’s rich and colorful history

In 2005, work started to tear down the Fiscal Building. The original front facade of the old courthouse was reconstructed. Today, the City of Redwood City hosts a wide variety of programming on Courthouse Square in front of the building. Today, the old courthouse is home to the San Mateo County History Museum.”

Across from the old courthouse was the Fox Theater it also has an imposing architectural design and since its also close we took a couple of shots of the exterior.

Fox Theater

“The Fox Theatre opened its door to the public on January 2, 1929, as The New Sequoia Theater by Ellis John Arkursh to show motion pictures. Touring Europe Arkush gathered all of his favorite architectural details from various venues to create the Moorish feel and style on the inside and the gothic feel on the exterior which was executed beautifully by the Reid Brothers of San Francisco.

Fox Theater

Used mainly for motion pictures, the theater was purchased by the Fox West Coast Chain only a few months after the opening and it continued to be used for movie attractions for a number of years until the theater was closed for renovations in June 1950 for 4 months before re-opening its doors September 1950 for live performances and shows.

Side view of the theater

After its renovations, the theater became a popular venue for such artists as Vanessa Williams, Etta James, Bill Cosby, Neil Young, Melissa Ethridge, and BB King. In 1993 the theater was inducted to the National Register of Historic Places.”

Right across from it was a building with a historical marker for the school which used to stand in this site.

Sequoia High School

“After Stanford University opened its doors in 1891, the people of this community wanted their children to have an equal opportunity with others to attend this new university, so a group of twenty-one citizens, elected to represent seven elementary school districts, met at the San Mateo County Court House, August 24, 1895, and proceeded with the organization of the Sequoia Union High School. They followed closely the advice of Dr. David Starr Jordan, then the president of Stanford. The first principal selected for Sequoia was David A. Curry, who developed facilities at Yosemite National Park.

Old Sequoia High School

After Redwood City had been decided upon as the site for the school, the name Sequoia was chosen as the most fitting to stand for the district as a whole. Sequoia, the name of the great redwood, is named after Sequoyah, the great Cherokee Indian scholar, and inventor of the writing system for the Cherokee language.

School opened September 16, 1895 with an enrollment of 53, and as it was the only high school on the Peninsula between Santa Clara and San Francisco, a five-dollar tuition fee was charged to students from outside the district. Classes were held upstairs in the old Central School building, which was razed to permit the construction of the Sequoia Theater, presently the Fox Theater, on Broadway in downtown Redwood City. In 1899 Frank Rossiter, the principal of the Redwood City elementary and grammar school, became the principal of the high school. At that time that building held all the school children of Redwood City as well as the high school students. In 1900 the University of California accredited the school.

Historical marker

In 1904 the High School District constructed a building on Broadway between Middlefield and Jefferson, and except for the reconstruction period after the 1906 earthquake, that building housed Sequoia’s students until completion of the present plant in 1924. Immediately this new structure on the present campus was famous for its Spanish Renaissance architecture. At the time, its spacious auditorium was the largest theater with modern equipment between San Francisco and San Jose.”

Behind the Old, Courthouse was a quaint little house and this house also has the historical marker in its walls.

Lathrop House

Lathrop House

“Benjamin Gordon Lathrop was the first clerk, recorder, and assessor of San Mateo County, California, as well as one of the original investors in the San Francisco to San Jose railroad. This wealth allowed his wife, Mary C. Lathrop and him, to buy up many parcels of land in Redwood City, one of which they constructed the house upon in 1863. It was originally located where the Fox Theatre is now constructed, 2215 Broadway Street, Redwood City.

Historical Marker


The house was constructed in the Gothic Revival style was becoming more popular at the time with tall gables and arches pierced by quatrefoil designs. More specifically it was designed in the Steamboat Gothic style designed to resemble the steamboats of the era.

Info of the house

Lathrop House passed through many owners over the years including Patrick Edward Connor, who had been a Union General, and Sheriff Joel Mansfied, who purchased the house in 1905 and moved it to its present location.

San Mateo County acquired the house in 1968 to make it part of a heritage center. The Lathrop House was restored on the exterior through joint efforts of the Redwood City Heritage Association and the county. The Lathrop House was operated as a museum by the Redwood City Heritage Association and was open to visitors twice monthly to view the interior of the house.


Finally, we walked around the busy down street at least it seems it use to be. But like I mentioned before today most of it was empty. There were a couple of nice design, preserved buildings. Most of the buildings have a round sign with the year of its construction and there were some who bare the historical markers.

“The Pioneer Store” Diller – Chamberlain Store

“This brick building was constructed in 1859 as a general store from J.V. Diller, who became Redwood City’s First Mayor in 1867. From 1875 until 1911, P.P. Chamberlain (County Treasurer 1882-1925) operated a Wells Fargo Agency from the store, which also served as county’s treasurer’s office”

Alhambra Theater / IOOF Lodge

Alhambra Theater

“Two Main Street Historic District buildings have shared a single Italianate facade since 1921. Upstairs in the building on the left of this common facade was the Alhambra Theater. Built-in 1895, this building was designed by noted architect A. Page Brown (architect for the San Francisco Ferry Building) . The Alhambra, with a seating c,,):`city of 1500 persons, was the finest theater building between San Francisco and San Jose when it opened in 1896. Downstairs was Alhambra Bar, where former deputy. Wyatt Earp of OK Corral fame occasionally visited in the 1890s.

The 1906 earthquake destroyed the original California Mission Revival Style facade mid a second. stripped down Mission Style facade replaced it in 1910. The Masonic Order purchased the building in 1921 and converted the upstairs theater to their meeting hall; the downstairs was leased out as retail area. When the Masonic lodge took over the theater building, the two structures were unified with a common facade.

I.O.O.F. Building

The right half of this common facade, built earlier in 1895, is the International Order of Odd Fellows building (I.O.O.Y. ), who used the up-stairs as their lodge hall and leased out the bottom retail store area. The l.O.O.F. hall was used as San Mateo County’s courtroom during th 1906-1910 period, when the County Courthouse on Broadway was being reconstructed following the earthquake This build’ — used by the Ancient Order of United Workman and. the Woodmen of the World.

Eureka Corner / Sequoia Hotel

“A hotel on this site, owned by Harry N. Morse and Daniel W. Balch, was the site of the first town meeting in 1854. Residents rejected a Mezesville government.”

Eureka marker

“This prime corner lot in the heart of downtown was purchased by a group of local investors. The town has need of a first-class hotel for many years, the best one was demolished by the 1906 earthquake. The hotel cost more than $100,000 – quite an expenditure at that time. The three-story brick building was massive (100 ft. by 100 ft.) and elegantly and expensively decorated and furnished. Every two rooms had a bath and hot and cold water. Public restrooms were on every floor, the ground floor lobby led to a dining room and public restaurant. There parlors, where business and social meetings could be held, were on the second and third floors where 60 rooms are located.

In 1928, President Herbert Hoover stayed here when he visited Redwood City and rode in the 4th of July Parade. This building has a number of classical features typical of its 1912 construction; two Ionic pilasters flank the two wooden front doors; above the third floor series of windows is a large cornice supported by thick brackets ornamented with a large “egg and dart” band.”

We finally, met up with Ta Bing and Ta Eps and then we left because it was getting dark and there was nothing else left to see.  It was to find some of the histories around this city even in markers which remind us of one’s past. We finished another day of historical hunting and until our next adventure.

Here are the links for more information:,_California),_California),_California#History

2009-11-09 (16)
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