National Register of Historic Places in San Luis Obispo County

National Register #08000203: Ah Louis Store in San Luis Obispo

The hill in the background is one of twenty-one morros, a chain of volcanic mountains and hills, which extend from the town of San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay.

12 March 2017
(Click Photo to Zoom)

National Register #08000203
Ah Louis Store
800 Palm Street
San Luis Obispo

In 1861, 21 year old Ah Louis (also known as Wong On) left his village near Canton, China, to search for gold in America. He prospected in Washington and Oregon 1867 before moving to San Luis Obispo in 1867. Within several years, he became the principal Chinese labor contractor of the San Luis Obispo region.

This building was the home of Ah Louis and his family of eight children from 1885 to 1936. Originally built as a wooden structure in 1874, it was replaced on the same site in 1885 with the brick building that stands today.

The building served the Chinese and Asian community in San Luis Obispo as its general store, post office, bank, employment office and gathering place. Chinese workers hired there helped to build the railroads of the Pacific Coast Railway and the Southern Pacific Railroad from 1874 to 1894.

Ah Louis was a prosperous businessman who, besides becoming a successful employer and labor organizer, was a merchant and farmer who pioneered the flower and vegetable seed business in San Luis Obispo County. He also built the first brick yard in the area, and many of today's historical buildings in San Luis Obispo were built out of the bricks he made.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 2008.

The Ah Louis Store is also California Historical Landmark 802.

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