Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Sierra County

Historic Marker on Downieville Museum 12 December 2013
(Click Photos to Zoom)
Downieville Museum
330 Main Street
Built 1852

Downieville Museum

One of the first buildings in Downieville, built in 1852 this stone building was originally known as the Old Slate Store. The walls of this building are made entirely of flat rocks laid horizontally. It was first used as a Chinese store with gambling and opium in the back. It later became the J.M.B. Meroux Building. The rock construction allowed this building to survive a couple of fires that destroyed most of Downieville. The building was presented to the community of Downieville by members of the Meroux family in tribute to the memory of J.M.B. Meroux, with the Pioneers of Sierra County, the Native Daughters of the Golden West (Naomi Parlor 36) and Sons of the Golden West (Downieville Parlor 92) as trustees. It has been a museum since 1932 after restoration of the roof and wooden interior which had deteriorated with age. The nucleus of the museum is a collection of valuable relics gathered by former Sheriff George C. Bynon.

Credo Quia Absurdum
Dedicated August 2, 2008
Major William Downie Chatper [sic] 1849
E Clampus Vitus

Gold Rush Stonemasons

Mining camps started as clusters of tents and other makeshift shelters. If the mine was productive, wooden buildings were erected and a town was born.

Conflagrations were a recurring curse. Often entire town were repeatedly destroyed by fire. Stonemasons, especially Italian immigrants from Liguria, began building "fire proof" banks and stores of stone or brick with iron doors and iron window shutters to protect the contents from fire.

Many of these stone buildings survive. Some of them, such as the Butte Store, are the sole reminders of a lost mining town.

Some of these buildings are:

Butte Store in Amador County
Calabozo in Hornitos
Civil War Armory in Georgetown
Compere Store in Murphys
Downieville Museum in Downieville

Fountain & Tallman Soda Works in Placerville
Gamble Building in Big Oak Flat
Hirshfeldter Building in Downieville
Honigsberger Store in Copperopolis
Italian Store in Douglas Flat

Kohler Store in Washington
Mackerman & Company Building in Downieville
Masonic Lodge in Columbia
Masonic Lodge in Hornitos
Nevada Brewery in Nevada City

Nevada Theatre in Nevada City
Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat
Old Segale Building in Murphys
Old Stone Garage in Truckee
Plymouth Trading Post in Plymouth

Pearson Soda Works in Placerville
Sam Choy Store in Angels Camp
Stage Stop in La Grange
Valente Building in Murphys
Watts & Tannahill Company Store in Groveland

Wells Fargo Bank and Stage Stop in Georgetown
Wells Fargo Express in Chinese Camp
Wells Fargo Express in French Corral
Wells Fargo & Company in North San Juan

Prev | Next
Sierra County: List | Map
California: List | Map