Redwood City - Path of History
(Four markers are mounted on this pedestal.)Diller-Chamberlain General Store(Quong Lee Laundry)
726 Main Street
J.V. Diller had this one-story brick building constructed in 1859 to house his general store, historically significant as San Mateo County's oldest commercial building and the county's first brick building. It is the sole remnant of Redwood City's earliest days as a lumber town, as its location reflects the importance of Main Street as the first major thoroughfare.
The building's rear entrance faced Redwood Creek, which was the waterway in use to float redwood logs to San Francisco during the Gold Rush - which is why a town began here. The store resembles the simple, classical, false-fronted commercial buildings built in the Mother Lode. Original details are still evident, such as the cast-iron shutters. P.P. Chamberlain, the second owner who operated here until 1916 as San Mateo County Treasurer, kept the county's funds in the store safe.
From 1875 to 1911, the store also served as the Wells Fargo Express Office. In 1938, it was remodeled to become Quong Lee Laundry. After the 1989 earthquake, the building received a seismic retrofit and the facade underwent restoration to its 1859 appearance.
American Hotel/American House Site
Main Street and Broadway
Redwood City's first hotel was established in 1855 by A. Harris, on the east side of Main Street, where eastbound Broadway now extends. It was a crude, one-story structure that was enlarged to two stories and called the American Hotel. The upstairs sleeping quarters were simply bunks.
Edward Hancock was the owner in 1856 when ballots in San Mateo County's first election were counted "in parlors" of the hotel. During the canvass, out-of-town politicians who had brazenly directed ballot stuffing in hopes of controlling the new county, resorted to gun threats and grappling for ballots as they were being counted. But the townspeople took their case to court, winning the right to name their own officials and to claim Redwood City as the county seat.
The first Board of Supervisors meeting took place here when it was decided to rent county office space in Diller's Store (across the street, by the creek) until a new courthouse could be built.
The American Hotel burned down in 1864. Sidney Merrill, local druggist, postmaster, and Redwood City's first tax collector, purchased the site for a new three-story hotel completed in 1867, calling it the American House. This hotel burned in 1878, replaced by the Wahl Building, which was torn down in 1931 when Broadway was extended east from Main Street.
800 Main Street
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.
Bank of San Mateo County
NE Corner of Main Street
Incorporated in 1891, the Bank of San Mateo County was the first commercial bank on the Peninsula. It operated from the Capitol Hotel a few doors up the street. In 1899, noted architect Alfred I. Coffey was hired to design a Renaissance style stone veneer building using cut stone from Utah. It was completed in 1900 and remains today as one of Redwood City's most notable commercial-institutional structures.
For more than 40 years, the law office of Ross & Ross occupied the second floor. The attorney's brother, Dr. J.L. Ross, was the first bank president. Dr. Ross had purchased the adjacent lot in 1899 and built a two-story brick building with a cast-iron front.
After the 1906 earthquake, the bank purchased the Ross building, and Coffey was hired to design a 55 ft. facade that would incorporate both buildings. The renovation was commemorated in 1910.