Then and now: See how Monterey Street compares to photo of a Fourth of July parade in 1885

Editor’s note: This is one in our new “Then and Now” series comparing historical San Luis Obispo County photos to the same locations today.

Two of the oldest commercial buildings in San Luis Obispo face each other across Monterey Street.

On the right facing east on Monterey is the Sinsheimer Building, which dates back to the late 1800s.

The Sinsheimer Brothers, Bernard and Henry, founded their business in 1876, according to the book ”Discovering San Luis Obispo County.” They began with store in an adobe at the corner of Monterey and Chorro. It doubled as the town’s post office.

When it came time to build a larger building in 1884 and amid concerns about fire, they settled on an iron front building, cast in sections at City Iron Works in San Francisco, fronting a masonry structure with shutters that could be closed in case nearby wood frame buildings caught fire.

The first floor was a general store, and upstairs were offices for professionals, including a dentist, doctor and lawyer.

The building is currently home to Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica.

Facing it is another of downtown’s historic properties, the Sauer Bakery building.

George Sauer arrived in San Luis Obispo in 1858, almost a decade after the Gold Rush. He built the wood-frame building known as the Sauer Bakery in 1875. He was joined by his brothers from Germany, Andrew and Fred, who operated the bakery and a general store.

In 1912-13, the building was moved back from its original location to widen Monterey Street, and in 1960, alterations covered much of the original structure.

In more recent years, the building underwent a seismic retrofit for the unreinforced masonry at the back, but it still has the historic bakery ovens and has had a reconstruction of its cornices and a leveling of the floors.

The building is currently the home to Francesca’s and Mint+Craft.

The area of Monterey Street, leading north from Mission San Luis Obispo, looks substantially different today, but the historic buildings remain recognizable when comparing to the past.

A photo believed to be from 1885 shows a column of Civil War veterans marching down Monterey Street toward Mission San Luis Obispo at the head of a Fourth of July parade.
A photo believed to be from 1885 shows a column of Civil War veterans marching down Monterey Street toward Mission San Luis Obispo at the head of a Fourth of July parade.

One photo from the archives shows Monterey Street all decked out for the Fourth of July, as a column of Civil War veterans marches down the street at the head of a long parade.

While various dates have been given for this picture, it is believed to be 1885. The rooftop of the original Andrews Hotel can be seen at the corner of Monterey and Osos. It was built in 1885 and destroyed by fire in April 1886 after only nine months of operation.

The Sinsheimer store appears at right, little changed from today.

At the left edge of the picture are the letters SE from the sign over the White House department store. Sauer’s Bakery appears just beyond the Western Union telegraph office, which became the lobby of the Blackstone Hotel.

Great white hats are worn by almost every woman.

The picture was taken by C.A. Smith. The copy print the Tribune has on file was cut in half and digitally reassembled here.

The modern photo shows Monterey Street lined with trees and set up with parklets for outdoor dining. In 1963 San Luis Obispo’s park and recreation director William Edward Flory began a program to plant carrotwood trees in the downtown.

Use our slider to compare how much this key block of downtown has changed in more than 130 years.

Slider not appearing? Try refreshing the webpage.