National Register of Historic Places in Sacramento County, California
When John Wesley Sharpe founded Walnut Grove as a boat landing on the Sacramento River around 1851, Sharpe's Landing was the first established settlement in the Sacramento River Delta. Although few steamers docked here during the 1850s, Sharpe built a hotel and a general store.
By the time of Sharpe's death in 1880, Walnut Grove had seven residences, a post office, a commodious wharf, a brickyard, a lumber mill, an armory hall, a schoolhouse, a ferry, a general merchandise store, a Wells Fargo office, a butcher, a blacksmith and a wheelwright. Four steamers traveling between San Francisco and Sacramento docked. By 1880, other towns had been established in the Delta - Rio Vista, Isleton, Courtland, Hood, Freeport - but Walnut Grove was the largest and most visited owing to its location midway between Sacramento and San Francisco.
By the mid-1880s, Walnut Grove was associated with Alexander Brown who was a businessman, rancher, farmer, postmaster, and agent for Southern Pacific Railroad steamer ships, Wells Fargo and Company Express, and Western Union. Every building in Walnut Grove had either been built by Alexander Brown or was being used by him or his family.
Brown established Walnut Grove as a center for shipping agricultural goods throughout the nation. He was the first American to successfully grow asparagus as a marketable product. Every year the first pickings of the asparagus crop were rushed to the Plaza Hotel and Waldorf-Astoria in New York City for use in their dining rooms. These two world renown establishments had standing orders for Brown's spring crop.
Throughout the early history of Walnut Grove, Asians outnumbered Caucasians who consisted primarily of the few families who settled in Walnut Grove before 1880 including the Browns. These families resided in homes interspersed throughout the commercial district and facing the River. The Asians lived in a different part of town.
Brown supported the Chinese American and Japanese American communities in town. He operated a bank out of the back of his store, issuing loans to farmers, and lending money to members of the local Asian communities. This modest start led to the establishment of the Bank of Alex Brown, chartered in 1913 by Alex's oldest son, John Stanford Brown, and named for his father.
When a fire broke out in the Chinese American section of town in 1915, Brown provided two fire tug boats that hosed water on the ruins for days. Following the 1915 fire, he rented land to the Japanese people and encouraged them to build their own community north of the previously established Chinatown. Brown organized a water company and supplied water and sewer facilities to the two Asian districts, as well as to the Anglo community, and helped in the rebuilding effort.
To encourage new people to move into his town, Brown subdivided his old racetrack and stables area behind the town hall into small lots around 1918 and began building bungalows. The subdivision along Brown's Alley represents the first community planning and development in Walnut Grove with the express purpose of attracting non-Asian residents to supplement the few old time families in town.
At Brown's instigation, and with his financial backing, the Imperial Theatre in Walnut Grove was constructed in 1920 by Mr. Takeda to
serve the Delta region. Brown envisioned this theatre as a place for all the people in the region and it was used by
Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Anglos, and Portuguese well into the 1970s. This theatre, with
its large stage, was used for community dances and gatherings, rotary meetings, moving
picture shows, plays, and other gatherings attended by people from all over the Delta.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1990.
By the time of his death in 1923, Alex Brown owned, operated, or backed most of the commercial enterprises in the non-Asian portion of town, was a silent partner in several of the Chinese businesses, and rented land and building space to the Japanese community. In addition to his store, hotel, wharf, and warehouses, he had a financial interest in the town bank, the local butcher shop, and post office, all owned by his sons. Brown also organized and owned the local water district, electric company, telephone company, and other public utilities.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1990.
|Name||Year||Address||Remarks||Sort Address||Sort Name|
|Alexander Brown III Home||1913||Market Street||Craftsman style||Market||Alexander Brown III Home|
|Town Hall||1884||14179 River Road||River 14179||Town Hall|
|Hutchinson House||1921||1231 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1231||Hutchinson House|
|Alex Brown Cottage||1921||1235 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1235||Alex Brown Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1239 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1239||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1243 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1243||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1247 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1247||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1251 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1251||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1250 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1250||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1246 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1246||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1242 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1242||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1238 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1238||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Alex Brown Rental Cottage||1921||1234 Brown's Alley||One of twelve cottages built by Alex Brown||Brown's 1234||Alex Brown Rental Cottage|
|Fred Wicker House||1870||1230 Brown's Alley||Brown's 1230||Fred Wicker House|
|Bank of Alex Brown||1916||14189 River Road||River 14189||Bank of Alex Brown|
|Alex Brown General Merchandise Store||1915||14201 River Rod||River 14201||Alex Brown General Merchandise Store|
|Fred Wicker House||1880||14215 River Road||River 14215||Fred Wicker House|
|Wicker Butcher Shop||1880||14219 River Road||Ruver 14219||Wicker Butcher Shop|