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Dixon May Fair: Text

Around Town (Dixon CA)

Corner of 1st & B Streets Facing South – 1920

This picture shows a view of North 1st Street facing South, at the corner of North 1st and B Streets.  Not shown in this picture is the Bank of Dixon of 1911, later named Bank of America to the East. To the West once stood the First National Bank that opened in 1910. Just 20 days after the bank opened in 1910, it had 93 accounts with deposits totaling $75,305. After four months in business, the depository numbered 180 accounts totaling $101,649. The first bank president was Henry Timm. It was later replaced with a modern building in 1963 and still stands today. In the 1980s, the name of the bank was changed to First Northern Bank. The 1913 Gus D. Schulze name can still be seen on a building on the left. The Masonic Lodge that was chartered in Silveyville in 1860 was moved to Dixon in 1871. It was lost in the fire of 1883 and was rebuilt in brick.  At one time there was a Daily Hotel and Dr. Forester’s office. 


Other notable businesses, on or near First Street, throughout the years have been: Van Sant Grocery Store, The GEM Saloon, The Fly Trap Saloon, Henry W. Timm’s butcher shop, Gerlach’s Creamery, Dawson’s, Bud’s, Kim & Ned’s, El Charro, Cuevas, Pardi Market, Barker’s, and People’s Market.


Dixon’s Second Train Station – Jackson St. and West B St. – 1884

On August 24, 1868 – construction was completed in Dixon on 10 acres of land donated by Thomas Dickson and his family to the California Pacific Railroad. The 10 acres started at 1st and A Streets, went out to H Street, over to Washington Street, and back to 1st and A Streets. As the tracks neared completion, a train station was built to the east of the tracks on the corner of North Jackson and B Streets. Passengers would board the train and there was a platform for loading luggage. Milk cans were also loaded and unloaded here. The station was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1883, along with buildings located between A and B Streets. A second train station was built in the same location in 1884 and is featured in this picture.   

There are varying stories as to how the name “Dixon” came to be.  The Railroad Superintendent in San Francisco requested to have a sign placed at this newest station, called “Dickson.” But when he came up to inspect the sign, he noted that the sign had been misspelled “Dixon.” By this time, literature, timetables and even a rail shipment of merchandise addressed to William Ferguson in 1872, were all mistakenly written, “Dixon, Cal.” A letter dated 1866 was addressed to “Dixon,” Eugene Ferguson was the postmaster. Since the trainmen knew the town by “Dixon,” and in 1874, after nearly a two-year push to have the town named “Dicksonville,” the county recorder filed the name “Dixon” on the new maps, stating that “Dixon” was simpler. Thomas Dickson agreed to let the name stand.  Dixon was officially incorporated in 1878.  

In 1865, the California Pacific Railroad, under the supervision of Col. Haskin, was laid between Sacramento and Vallejo. Passengers wishing to continue to San Francisco could board a ferry at Vallejo. Railroads served to transport people, freight (farm crops, meat, and animals), and mail. The Central Pacific Railroad bought the California Pacific Railroad in 1871. The Southern Pacific Railroad leased the Central Pacific Railroad in 1885 and bought it in 1898. Steam trains would stop in town to get water from the water tank on Jefferson and A Streets. Most railroads were run by steam until the end of WWII. The Transcontinental Railroad, California Pacific Railroad, and the Western Pacific Railroad hired Chinese immigrants who made up 90% of the total labor force.  

As more and more people traveled by car, the trains no longer stopped in Dixon. Tom Kilkenny hung the last U.S. Mail Pouch for train pick up in Dixon in 1958.  Dixon’s second train station, as featured in this picture, was demolished in 1968 due to the lack of funds for its upkeep.  In 2007 a third train station was built, as a replica of the second station, and still stands today.  It is located on the west side of the tracks at Jefferson and B Streets.


Opera House, Jackson & B Streets Facing East Toward 1st Street – 1921

This 1921 street scene looks east toward First Street. The Dixon Hall was a large brick building on the right, where the First Northern Bank parking lot is located today. Graduation ceremonies once took place here.  Businesses included the Dixon Opera House, Cash and Carry Grocery Store, and Knights of Pythias Meeting Hall.  The Dixon Opera House was demolished in 1962. The opera house itself was located on the second floor with seating for 600 people. Note the ad for Dixon Alfalfa.  Painting murals on the side of buildings was a common way to advertise. 


Johnson´s Hardware Store, Northwest Corner 1st & A Streets – 1898

J.D. Johnson’s Hardware Store stood on the northwest corner of First and A Streets and was originally built by William R. Ferguson at the founding of Dixon in 1868. After the 1883 fire destroyed the building, William Johnson bought Blum & Son’s brick store in Silveyville and used the bricks to construct the new hardware store. W.R. Ferguson died in 1896, and the store was purchased by Cowden & Clausen. J.D. Johnson, pictured far right, became the owner in 1898. Joe Dawson bought the building in 1943, moved the Dawson cigar store from its original location across the street, to this location, and it has been called Dawson’s ever since. Currently Dawson´s is owned by Jill Ferguson-Orr (a descendent of William Ferguson) and her husband Greg Orr. The people in the picture from left to right are John McDermott, Max Cowden, John Cowden (Max´s father), Good Johnson (with bicycle), John Dwinell Johnson, and Henry Silver.


Kirby’s Drug Store moved from Silveyville Township to Dixon, Southwest corner of 1st – 1870

Kirby’s Drug Store, the first drugstore in town, was one of the buildings moved on logs from Silveyville in 1870. Located on the southwest corner of First and A Streets, it was destroyed by the 1883 fire. Bud’s Pub and Grill is located here today. Shown here, from left to right, are Constable T.B. Barnes, professional gambler Sam Brown, farmer T.B. Buckles, and A. Kirby (seated), Mr. Holverstat, Louis Duprey, Charles Newman, farmer George Barlow, unidentified, and Mr. Bloom, father of John Bloom. 


If you were to stroll through downtown Dixon in 1884, you would have found a community that had an opera house and several hotels: the Arcade Hotel and Livery Horse Stable (West A Street between First and Jackson Streets where the barber shop, history museum, and Frosty’s are located today), Empire Hotel (North 1st and C Streets where the Women’s Improvement Club Park is located today), King Hotel (West B and North Jackson Streets), Palace Hotel (Northeast Corner of 1st and A Streets), Capitol Hotel (Southeast Corner of 1st and A Streets where Pardi Plaza is located today), and the Centennial Hotel (West B Street where the Moose lodge is located today). You would barely have noticed the effects of the devastating fire of November 19, 1883, when nearly the entire town had to be rebuilt. Merchants hardly took a breath before the new brick structures were erected so that business could continue. Granted, not much had been done to improve the muddy, lumpy streets, but the boardwalks and awnings were back, and merchandise was reappearing in the stores. Then came the April 1892 earthquake, which was almost as disastrous as the fire. Undaunted, merchants rebuilt, rearranged, reinforced, and opened for business once more. 


Upstairs Oddfellows Hall – Estimated 1884 – Downstairs the Corner Café – Southwest Corner of 1st and A Streets – 1944

The Corner Café (now Bud’s Restaurant) was founded by Tom Wong in 1944. It was later owned by Frank Fong in 1969. It was a local hangout for Dixon High School students after the football games. To the left was the Dixon Home Bakery, later a beauty shop and now part of Bud’s. The Dixon Tribune office was located to the far left where Jay’s Safety Lane is located today. The upstairs is home to the Dixon Oddfellows to this day.  Later, this became Frank’s Café and then Bud’s. Down the street from Bud’s Pub and Grill, on West A Street, was a former office where people used to purchase large blocks of ice for their ice boxes prior to refrigeration. This was originally the Pacific Coast Ice Company.  When it became unionized, they did not include the entire wording. Only, “Coast Ice Company” remains. There was the Arcade Hotel which burned in 1900. It was a vacant lot for 23 years until the Mace family purchased it and had the icehouse built. Later, other businesses occupied this space and in 2021, The Dixon Historical Society rented the space from the Jay Lewis Estate to set up the Dixon History Museum.


The Palace Hotel, Northeast Corner of 1st & A Streets – 1875

The Palace Hotel, located on the northeast corner of First and A Streets, was built of brick and so survived the 1883 fire. It was moved from Silveyville in 1877 and dismantled brick by brick and rebuilt in 1920 by William Johnson, who purchased the Blum & Son’s building in Silveyville and brought the bricks to Dixon to construct this hotel. This may be the oldest existing brick building in Dixon. Here, Judge Miner (with long beard at center) stands near the lamp post. Mr. Wagner is the barber in the white coat and, on the far right, hotel owner Richard Hall stands next to his wife, Mrs. Patterson Hall. Behind her is Newton Buckles with John Madden (in the long overcoat) to his left. This picture was taken around 1879.  This was the original location of Dawson’s Cigar Store which was housed inside the Palace Hotel.  Other businesses located here were the first post office, Dixon Creamery, and a Five and Dime store. Farm laborers would live upstairs during harvest season. There were people who came to Dixon to work on the harvesters, and they usually stayed at the Palace Hotel. Now, there is a Real Estate and Insurance office, and clothing store in this location.


The Capitol Hotel, Southeast Corner of 1st & A Streets  – 1918

The Capitol Hotel stood on the southeast corner of First and A Streets.  The original hotel on this site was the City Hotel, built in 1876 and owned by the Frahm Brothers.  In 1885 Mrs. Morris bought the building and tore it down to build the Vendome, which became known as the Capitol Hotel.  The Capitol Hotel eventually ended up in the hands of the Dawson brothers, who owned it at the time it burned to the ground in 1920.  This photo was taken around 1918.  Later, this was the location of Beldon’s Shell Gas Station in 1936, the Tige Thompson Shell Gas Station in the 1950s, Pardi Market 1960s, and Dixon Florist in the 1970s, and today, Pardi Plaza since 2020.  During the 1990s and until 2020, there was a gravel parking lot. 


Beldon’s Shell Gas Station – Southeast Corner of 1st and A Streets - 1936 

In 1936, Beldon’s Shell Gas Station once stood on the southeast corner of 1st and A Streets where the Pardi Plaza is located today.  In the background you can see the Palace Hotel of 1877.


Pardi Market and Tige Thompson’s Shell Gas Station – 1970s

Located on East A Street between First and Second Streets was Mitchell’s Grocery Store from 1910-1920. Later, George Pardi purchased the store and renamed it, Pardi Market. In 1969, the John Fong family purchased the market and kept the name. Tige Thompson’s Shell gas station was probably purchased from Beldon’s in the 1950s and was later demolished in the 1970s.  It is believed that Pardi Market sold around 1990 and the store later closed.  Amy Fong, wife of John Fong, and Jerry Louis’s wife owned the land and sold it back to the City of Dixon. The property became a gravel parking lot until 2020 when the current Pardi Plaza was completed.  It now serves as a hub for annual festivities, including concerts and movies.     


Pardi Market – East A Street between South 1st and South 2nd Streets – 1970s

This is a picture of the interior of Pardi Market in the 1970s and 1980s under the ownership of John Fong (man with the green apron).  The people in this picture, standing behind John Fong, from left to right are Karen Riedel, Jody Beckworth, Leslie Barry, and Stacey Erickson.  Pardi Market is fondly remembered as a special place to shop throughout the years.


Dairy City Garage – North 1st and East C Streets – 1912

Originally, the Rossi Building in this picture was home to a creamery. The Rossi family sold milk. They pasteurized it and then transported it from this corner. Dixon was known as “Dairy City” as it was one of the largest milk producers in all of California. Milk would be loaded on the trains to be shipped all over the state.  In 1912, Emil Rossi and Clarence Frese formed a partnership to repair and sell automobiles. Located at North First and East C Streets, the Dairy City Garage prospered. In 1915, when Clarence Frese left to go into the army, Henry Rossi purchased his share of the company and became partners with his brother Emil Rossi. The company name was then changed to Rossi Brothers. Today, Recology is located here.


Fire Station at North Jackson and B Streets – 1929

The old fire station that you see in this picture was designed and built by architect George Rossi in 1929. This picture was taken in 1940. There are signatures engraved in the cement to the north of the building. Next door to the right was Dixon’s second jail and courthouse built in1889 and which was demolished in 1929 when the fire house was enlarged. The Dixon City Council meeting room and city offices were located above the jail. Dixon’s first jail 1870-1891 was located on the 200 block of East C Street. This was not a good match for school, so the jail was later moved to Jackson Street. Currently there is a dentist office and former tearoom. Next door there have been various businesses over the years such as computer services, Dixon Polaris, gifts stores and insurance companies. Across the street to the west, was the location of the Dixon Lumber Yard built in 1868. It burned down in 1999 and the business was relocated to where it is today, on North 1st Street. The various lumber yards were Mitchell Lumber Yard, West Valley Lumber, Dixon Lumber, Dixon Lumber and Hardware, and now Dixon ACE Hardware is located at North First Street.


The Dixon Fire Company was organized on October 15, 1871, four years after the town was moved from Silveyville. Known as the Dixon Hook and Ladder Company, its first fire-fighting equipment consisted of a hand-drawn truck that carried ladders, hooks, and buckets. The truck was housed in a garage on a lot which is now known as the Dixon Women’s Improvement Club Park. The first fire station was built in 1891 on Jackson Street, between West A and B Streets. The second station was built in 1929 and served the community until 1998, when a new state-of-the-art station was built on Ford Way off North First Street.


A disastrous fire of November 19, 1883, started in the kitchen of the Centennial Hotel on the corner of West B and Jackson Streets. Due to strong winds, the fire in the downtown area on the west side of First Street (Main Street) was soon destroyed within an hour. After this, Dixon’s town trustees passed an ordinance stating that no wooden structures could be built in the downtown area. Consequently, most of the buildings were constructed of brick while a few others were built of corrugated metal.  Some of these brick buildings are still in use today. Some of the bricks that were used to rebuild Dixon came from Silveyville. 


Due to the catastrophic fire of 1883, the people of Dixon decided to purchase their first fire truck, and citizens raised $10,000 for the new engine in 1921. 


Dixon’s First Police Patrol Car and Official Uniforms – 1946 – North Jackson and West B Streets

In 1946, the Dixon Police Department received their first patrol car and official uniforms. Here, Chief Bud Peters and officers Ray Crawford and Pete Murphy stand proudly in front of their new vehicle. Prior to 1946, the officers used their own automobiles for patrol. The Police Station and Court were once located on the corner of North 2nd between East A and B Streets and later, in 1990, a new station was built next to the post office on the corner of West A and Jackson Streets. 


Dixon Post Office – Northeast corner of 1st and B Streets – 1908

This building is the first permanent Dixon Post Office built in 1908 by Oscar Schulze. Upstairs there was Dr. Wrigley’s dental office, and at one time there was a saddle-making shop on this same corner. Note the unknown lady and gentleman standing in front of the post office by a horse-drawn carriage. Also, note the two-story structure, stucco exterior and angled corner entrance. A temporary post office was formerly located in the Palace Hotel on the Northeast corner of 1st and A Streets. It was moved to Dixon from Silveyville in 1869 when William B. Ferguson was the first postmaster. The current post office, located on West A Street next to the police station, was built in 1965. George “Pap” Hulen delivered mail daily between Dixon, Maine Prairie, and Binghampton.  During the many winter floods, Pap would take a boat from just beyond the cemetery to deliver mail to Maine Prairie. The larger axle and wheels on his buggy allowed access through high water.


Stoeven Brothers Meat Company – Highway 113 – 1950

Stoeven Brothers Meat Company, shown in this aerial view, was Dixon’s second slaughterhouse. Built by George F. Livingston, it was located south of town on the Rio Vista Highway 113 but did not prosper. In the 1930s, Livingston sold the business to Willie and Danny Marks. The plant soon expanded and was sold two more times before 1949, when the Stoeven brothers, Lawrence, Hal, and Chet, bought the plant. Their children, Larry, Bob, and Gladys, along with her husband, Ross Hanna, rebuilt the aging plant. Since 1981, the plant has been operated by Superior Meat Company and is the largest lamb slaughterhouse in California.


Mace Meat Company – North First Street across from North Adams Street – 1919

The Mace Meat Packing Plant was the first large slaughterhouse in Dixon, built by C. Bruce Mace in 1919 after he bought the former Hutton Dairy property along North First Street. His brothers, Alden “Slim” and Cal, soon joined him in the business. In the early years, they slaughtered five or six cattle and 20 sheep per day. The business continued to expand so that by the late 1940s the plant was processing 2,000 lambs and 200 cattle daily. The company was sold to Armour Meat company in 1958. The facility was eventually sold again and in the 1980s was closed and subsequently demolished. Interestingly, the Mace family sold some of their land to the City of Davis to build El Macero, a name that was created from their last name. 


Dixon Livestock Auction – North First Street and East Dorset Drive – 1939

Dixon operated a Livestock Auction for many years beginning in 1939 to the mid-1990s.  Art and Homer Brown joined in this business endeavor in March 1939.  Crowds would flock to the Dixon auction every Wednesday to purchase or sell their livestock.  Walmart is located here now.


Sheep at Dixon Livestock Auction – North First Street and East Dorset Drive – 1950

Sheep were first introduced to Solano County in 1852 by William Buck of Vacaville. The lamb and wool industries were well renowned in Dixon. Today, Dixon is known as “Lamb Town.” Many Basque families settled in Dixon and the surrounding areas to help with the sheep industry. The first meat-packing plant in Dixon was the Mace Meat Packing Plant established in 1919. It was sold to the Armour Meat Company in 1958 and was eventually sold again and was demolished in the 1980s. Stoeven Brothers Slaughterhouse and Meat Packing Plant began in 1949 and was sold to Superior Farms in 1981. Dixon also operated a Livestock Auction for many years beginning in 1939 to the mid-1990s. The person in this picture is Bob Collier. He was the largest lamb buyer in Dixon and did most of his trade at Dawson’s. It was said that more sheep, wool, and grain dollars were traded over Dawson’s bar than in any office. Dixon hosts a Lambtown Festival the first weekend in October where border collie demos teach visitors the way in which they herd sheep. One dog named King had a chance at motion picture glory when he starred as a working dog in Proud Rebel along with Alan Ladd and Olivia De Havilland. 


Dixon Theater on North First Street between A and B Streets – 1926

The original blacksmith shop burned, and the Dixon Theater was built in 1918.  The theater was run by Rodney Berries, an old family name. There was live entertainment and Saturday Matinees. The silent movie era lasted from 1894-1929.  Later there were “Talkies,” movies with a soundtrack. The theater closed in the 1980s and is now a church.


Dixon Farmers Exchange – North Jackson and B Streets – 1929

The Farmers Exchange was a place where farmers could get supplies.  It was established in 1929 and located on North Jackson and B Streets.   The original glass windows are still there today.  The Moose Lodge is located here now.  To the right, there is a hidden bank which was Dixon’s first bank in 1874, before it moved to the corner of North 1st and B Streets under the name, Bank of Dixon.  Also, to the right, there is a barber shop that was the Exchange Bar and one of the first bars in Dixon.


The Dixon Ice Cream Parlor – Owner Nancy Geary – The “Old Corner” of North First and West B Streets facing South – 1885

Dixon’s first female black business owner was Nancy Geary, who owned the Old Corner Ice Cream Shop on what is now the corner of North First and West B Streets. Nancy Geary was born in Mississippi in the 1840s and survived a youth in slavery. She traveled to Dixon with the Duke family in 1868 at the age of 20, just three years after slaves were granted freedom in the U.S. She lost her husband and one son. She had another son named Frank. In the 1880 census she was listed as one of only two African Americans in Dixon. She worked as a midwife and nurse prior to establishing her ice-cream business around 1888. Her ice cream shop was so successful that she was able to turn it into a full restaurant, which catered to many important events in town. She was such a beloved member of the community that she was voted the most popular lady in town. She passed away in 1910. 


Located at the “Old Corner” of North 1st and B Streets today is Cynde’s Place, located in the oldest building in town. The sequence of businesses in this building were first Eppinger’s Department Store, Eppinger and Company, Eppinger and Fox, Ferguson’s Department Store, Oscar Schulze’s Hardware store, Stuart Grady’s Department and Grocery Store, Denton Barker’s Grocery Store, Sacramento Savings and Loan, and Western Auto owned by Dennis Tama until the early 1980s. There were 18 bars and saloons on Main Street (First Street). The Dixon Women’s Improvement Club was established in 1889 to discourage the bars and promote education to the community, and they helped to establish the Carnegie Library on East B Street between North 1st and 2nd Streets.  Later an addition was added facing North First Street. During the Prohibition, no alcohol was sold in Dixon during 1920-1933, so the bars closed, and other businesses were here.  In 1923, the Carpenter family owned the property from Veterans Hall (today named Olde Vets Hall) to the railroad tracks. There was a Carpenter Paint Shop, Carpenter Blacksmith Shop, then the Carpenter Carriage Shop, and the Carpenter Mortuary from the mid to late 1800s.  


Located at the “New Corner” of North 1st and A Streets, where Dawson’s is located today, was the location of Dixon’s first business in town. It was a business selling grain, and was owned by William R. Ferguson.


George’s Orange – West A Street and Gateway Drive – 1926

In 1926, Frank Pohl began his chain of “Giant Orange” stands that were prominent along the highways: 40 (historic Lincoln Highway), 50, and 99, which ran throughout all the California roadside cities, including Dixon´s George´s Orange. In the early days of the highway system, before cars were equipped with air conditioning, these stands gave drivers a chance to stay cool during long, hot trips by purchasing glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice poured over crushed ice.  This great orange and hamburger restaurant was once owned by the George family.  The person in the picture is Belle George, wife of Joe George.  This picture was taken in 1940.


Most of the orange stands were created in a blacksmith shop on Mason Street and were manufactured by Bunny Power, founder of another iconic eatery: the Nut Tree Restaurant in Vacaville, CA. At one point, Dixon had two Giant Orange stands, one on Tremont Road, and another on Porter Road between Marvin Way and West A Streets. The latter was owned by Joe and Belle George, who named their business “George’s Orange.” The stand was moved in 1946 to the corner of Batavia Road and West A Street before the overpass was put in.  It moved again in 1959 to its longtime location a little farther down West A Street across from the present Gateway Drive. 


George’s Orange closed in 1973. The property was purchased shortly thereafter by Rudy and Carmen Lozano, who kept the business going by serving orange juice, milkshakes, hamburgers, and other items. Over time, they began serving Mexican food and added a dining area. Freshly squeezed orange juice was served right from the orange. Eventually, the Lozanos leased the space to Pedro Torres of Mr. Taco (current owner of Pedro´s Cocina) who kept up the tradition of serving Mexican food.  Around the mid-2000s, the location of Mr. Taco moved across West A street. In 2016, the orange stand was moved to the Dixon May Fairgrounds.


Milk Farm Restaurant – Interstate 80 – 1939

Karl A. Hess had the idea to build the Milk Farm restaurant in 1917. He built his first restaurant and gas station in 1924 on Sievers Road where he sold gas, local fresh fruits and vegetables, wine, fireworks, and gifts. The Cypress Camp Grove was located behind the gas station, where he rented cabins to travelers. The site was located beside the old Lincoln Highway (Highway 40: Currey Road, North Adams Street, Porter Road, and Midway Road) which was later expanded and renamed Interstate 80. In 1941 the Milk Farm moved to what is today Interstate 80/Highway 113. The completion of the highway took place in 1947 with the Currey Road and Midway Road sections being completed after WWII. The Milk Farm was a favorite place to eat for both local families and travelers from all around. The restaurant closed in 1986.

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