Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Sierra County
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: