Tag Archives: Susanville


Shirley’s, Hall Street, Susanville. Courtesy of Hank Martinez
Shirley’s was a bar on the north end of Hall Street, the current site of the Juniper Apartments. Established in the 1930s after the repeal of prohibition, by Jean “Shirley” Tilton, and its distance from town on a road heading to points northward was similar to the roadhouses between Susanville and Westwood. *

It was quite the interesting watering hole, “Shirley” a former nurse, was confined to a wheel chair, but remembered for her generosity. She was also a madam, and cabins behind her establishment took care of certain needs of her clientele. Then there was her friend, gay piano man, and member of Sacred Heart Church’s choir, that assisted her, until he committed suicide in 1938. When she died in 1954, Gene Garayoa and Steve Arainty transformed it into the Juniper Inn.

*Ash Street, was not in existence.

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John A. Hanson, Photographer

Hanson’s standard advertisement. Courtesy of Verna L. Haley
The itinerant professional photographer of the late 1800s was an interesting creature in the rural areas such as Lassen. Many were single young men. After all, one would have to ride “circuit.” Susanville at that time, with a population base of less than 500, it could not sustain a full time photography studio. They would travel to neighboring communities in search of business. After a few years, they would move to a new territory.

John Hanson came to Susanville and initially opened his photography studio in a tent. With that type of mobility, it appeared Hanson was just traveling through town. Yet, Hanson found romance in Susanville with a young lady, by the name of Fannie Streshley, who operated a millenery store a block from Hanson’s tent. The relationship turned serious and the two were married on October 31, 1883. The couple made Susanville their home until 1886, when they moved onto unknown greener pastures.


Fruit Growers Supply Company

Fruit Growers Supply Company, 1921
Today’s featured photograph is train load of logs arriving at the Fruit Growers Supply Company mill in Susanville. It was taken in 1921, the same year the plant opened. Notice how very little had been developed nearby. Two buildings with a Tudor style like facade were the office and dining hall. Today it is now the site of Riverside Park.


Christian Science Society

Christian Science Society building, 1946.
In 1920 the Christian Scientists organized locally and held their meetings in the hall of the Knoch building. On August 26, 1931, they purchased property at the northwest corner of Mill and Lassen Streets from Gladys Burroughs and Iva Raker. In the fall of 1937 they announced plans to build a church. The following spring, Enoch Strom began construction of the church. The first services were held in the new church on June 12, 1938. During the Thanksgiving Services of 1938 the building was dedicated. At the same the congregation was pleased to announce that is was debt free. In 1999, with a dwindling attendance, the local church disbanded.


Susanville Hotel Company

Hotel Mount Lassen
On April 7, 1925 a group of local and outside business interests formed a company to raise $300,000 in stock to build a hotel on the vacant site of the former Emerson Hotel on the corner of Main and Lassen Streets. Construction began that summer for the three-story reinforced concrete structure. The new hotel opened with little fanfare on April 27, 1926.

In the meantime, during construction a contest was held for a name of the new hotel, the winner to receive $25. To be creative, the names Susanville and Lassen were barred. On November 25, 1925 a name was selected. Frank Coffin, who had secured a ten year lease to operate the hotel, asked the Susanville Hotel Company that it be named “Hotel Mount Lassen.” Coffin told the board that the name had better advertising appeal. The board was reluctant, but adopted the request.


Susanville – Riverside Drive

Riverside Drive
While it is officially the first day of winter, some in the meteorological field considered the seasonal change on the first of the month, as the weather conditions have already changed. Anyhow, remember last year’s flooding. Today’s photograph is of the flood of 1955 of Susan River on Riverside Drive. You will note back then there was not a bridge but culverts. After the flood, the culverts were replaced with a bridge. Of note, in the background is the log deck of Fruit Growers Supply Company.


Susanville – 1415 North Street

1415 North Street, Susanville, 1955. Courtesy of Wendell Laughead
Lately, we have explored how old buildings were recycled such as the County Hall of Records reincarnated as the Susanville City Jail. When it comes to old homes, some times instead of being demolished to make way for a new building, they get s second life and are moved to another location. A perfect example is that of the A.J. Mathews home, originally located at 501 Main Street. Mathews father-in-law, John Cahlan had the house constructed in 1911. In 1954, it was moved to 1415 North Street to make way for a J.C. Penny store, which has a new life as Uptown Cinemas.


The Hall of Records

Lassen County Courthouse and Hall of Records, 1907. Courtesy of Gil Morrill
Various fires in Susanville’s early history, naturally shaped its image. Most of the devastating fires were located along Main Street and the town’s business district. In 1887, the County of Lassen as a preventative precaution decided to construct a small stone building on the north side of the courthouse. Known as the Hall of Records it was to store valuable county documents such as deeds. The building was torn down in 1917 to make way for the new courthouse. Yet, the building would be recycled and the City of Susanville used the native stone to build a small City Jail next to City Hall on Lassen Street. The jail remained in use until the 1950s when it was finally closed and was converted into a garage. It was torn down 2001 to make room for an addition to City Hall.


A bell of a story

Methodist Church
The aftermath of the 1915 fire.
On October 29, 2017 I wrote a story about the first bell of the Methodist Church that was destroyed in the 1915 fire. It was a devastating blow to the congregation emotionally as well as financially. The church was insured for $5,000, but they would need an additional $3,000 to rebuild, and that included using the existing walls. The Rev. J.H. Westervelt who was the pastor at the time was a resourceful fellow such as holding a Kirmes Festival as a fundraiser. In 1916, an opportunity for a bell arose when Lassen County was in the midst of
The infamous bell. Courtesy of Martin Balding
constructing a new courthouse. The old courthouse, which was built in 1867, along with other items were auctioned off and sold at a bargain, and Westervelt acquired the bell that was used in the original courthouse, for his church. That bell is still used to this day.

The 1902 City Speed Limit

Main Street, 1901
South side of the 700 block of Susanville’s Main Street, 1901
The City of Susanville was incorporated in 1900, and with any new institution there was a lot of foundation work to be done. Take for instance speed limits. In 1902, the city passed an ordinance for speeding, the limit set an eight miles per hour whether motorized or not. However, an automobile had yet to grace the streets of Susanville. Bicycles were all are the rage then, some considered them a nuisance. In 1911, the city increased the speed limit to fifteen miles per hour, but it went ignored. On January 10, 1913 the Lassen Advocate noted: “Another man’s dog got under the wheel of a gasoline juggernaut this week. Sooner or later it will be somebody’s child that will fall victim to the speedomaniac’s disregard of the law. Then (maybe) our officers will recognize the difference between forty and twelve miles per hour.”