Yesterday we took a Sunday ride - a much needed "just get away from the house" - ride. We headed coastside towards Half Moon Bay by way of Woodside, our favorite way to go. There is something so serene and peaceful about the Woodside area with all the trees and horse ranches and just the atmosphere on the whole. I hope you'll read the whole post here as it's all pretty interesting stuff.
There a some gorgeous homes too...giant homes.... tucked in amongst the trees, some you can barely see as they are tucked down below. We had to turn around at one point as we wanted to go back to see something and when we turned in it was a private road called "Why Worry Lane" (first of all if you lived there that's probably the feeling they all have).... on our left was this home.....seriously? Could I live there (assuming of course I had the millions these homes cost)? Uh, let me think about it? That would be a Y E S!!
Driving on...... and to another century......we headed for the Woodside Store, a local historical landmark. There are lots of photos and history here....some of the info I acquired from the 2 docents and a lot more from researching what I could on line. I am fascinated by historic sites and their "story". If you are too AND if you live in California this should interest you. (if even if you don't live in California and you like historic sites)
The store was built entirely of local redwood with a vertical board and batten on the outside (seen closer in the above photo) over a wooden frame (seen in photo below). Additions were eventually made since the original was built in 1854. There is a slant to the main room and I read that it was built with no foundation other than redwood sills and was built over a creek. (there is a dry creek bed behind the store). I also read that it's state of preservation comments well on the virtues of redwood construction. The floors crack and creek when you walk around, I like the sound and the feel......you get transported back to another time....if you close your eyes you can almost hear the murmurs of the people coming in for goods, a library book or just to gather and chat.
The founders were a dentist named Robert Orville Tripp (age 33) and Mathias Parkhurst (age 20) came to the Woodside area each with other partners in 1849. Parkhurt's partner was a man named Ellis who it was said drank too much. Tripp accompanied partner James H. "Grizzly" Ryder, a Mexican War veteran to California. All came out from Massachusetts. In October Parkhurst purchased 127 acres of Rancho Canada de Raymundo and began shingle making and lumbering. Parkhurst and Ellis started a shingle camp and Tripp and Ryder joined them. I also read that the timberland Parkhurst bought he ended up calling "Woodside".....and the name was kept. That's the thing about reading all this you find various versions and explainations and some conflict. Suffice to say he owned a lot of land and purchased it at a very young age - did he coin the name Woodside? I don't actually know that for certain since I only read that in one place.
All 4 men were splitting shingles (which sold for a penny a piece) - when one of the partners (Ellis) decided to try his luck in the goldfields while the other 3 joined together in a lucrative business making piles for new docks in San Francisco. As an aside for you Bay Area folks who may not know this: The logs were dragged by teams of oxen to the nearest tidewater slough on the bay, lashed together in to rafts, and floated north to San Francisco on tide action. The slough became known as Redwood Creek and the community that developed next to it became Redwood City.
The third partner (Ryder) eventually went back east (I read after a grizzly bear mauling, which probably accounts why he was called Grizzly in his name). The store idea came from Parkhurst who thought it would be a good idea to sell general merchandise out of a tiny one-room shack where he and Tripp lived in 1851. (I can only assume Parkhurst hadn't yet built a dwelling on his 127 acres for them to be living in a shack) The store was a huge success and within 3 years they built a new, larger store across the road. Tripp had studied denistry in Philadelphia and was called on for emergencies....which meant teeth pulling (his speciality) in a small "office" in the back. I read in the early days he was a one of the first dentists to practice in San Francisco with a shingle hung on an old ramshackle house at the corner of Vallejo and Stockton Streets.
I read Parkhurst sold whiskey from a barrel on the counter (w/o a license) kept supposedly to ease the pain of Tripp's patients. (wink wink) The first round was free and after that they required a "contribution". I think it may have served as a kind of saloon along with all the other functions it had but not in any overt way.
The store carried everything you'd find in a general store. What you couldn't find they could get from frequent visits to San Francisco for supplies. The store was located at the foot of King's Mountain Road and I read many teamsters would stop in to steady their nerves after descending the steep grade.....and also to pick up mail and supplies for the men in the mills on their way back.
Besides being a general store, community gathering place and dentist office they were also the post office and a privately funded circulating library. Supposedly a bank as well featuring an armored safe.
Tripp was the Woodside postmaster for 40 consecutive years. He also served as librarian as well as community leader.
Parkhurst died early at the young age of 34 and when his estate was settled Tripp inherited his land and the entire Woodside Store. Dr. Tripp also owned his own vineyard and his own label as well. (I read one was a Muscat wine and the vineyard was behind their home). I wish I had looked closer at the bottle labels (they printed from an original and were on some of the bottles you see on the store shelves). Evidently it was called San Mateo County Pioneer with a grizzly bear on the label. Next time I'll look closer.
At some point Tripp advertised for a housemaid and hired Emeline Skelton (pictured below on the left), the 2 eventually married and had one daughter named Addie (although I read they had another child that died early). I cannot find anything about the 2 women or the age Tripp and she were when married but from what I can tell his wife died before him, probably long before him. The daughter never married or had any children and died in 1926.
Tripp died in 1909 at the age of 92. He had considered retiring in 1907 (imagine considering retirement at the age of 90?) but the store remained open until his death 2 years later. Addie, his only child, sold the stock inside and locked the doors. (I read where she carried on the family tradition of providing the services of a community center at the store, I assume during it's run) When she died in 1926 it was left to the Woodside Community Church. In 1940 it became the first historic building to be purchased by San Mateo County. Thank goodness it was.
To think it all began with a trek to California, redwood trees, the logging industry and two men with a vision who evidently had a strong work ethic and determination (and it would seem money). It's sad to think Parkhurst didn't live to see it grow as it did, and since it was his idea in the first place I can only imagine what else he may have done/started/owned/operated....although I think Dr. Tripp did pretty well on his own. Don't you?
I hope you enjoyed this bit of local history and even if you don't live in California and you read this whole post, I hope it interested you anyway. If you are local to the area or plan to visit you may want to stop in and see the Woodside Store yourself. We plan to go back again. Please note I researched a lot of this info on the internet from various sources and sites beside what we were told by the docents. There are no images of Parkhurst.
See what happens when you take a Sunday ride!
Next post will be about an artist/shaman-like man in Half Moon Bay!
Stay tuned and I hope you are off to the start of a good week!
P.S. We were told only 12 miles away from Woodside (in La Honda) Neil Young has a ranch......now THAT would be someone amazing to run in to! (not likely to happen of course)