A little background about why this question came up:
I was in Marysville on Monday with my OLLI class. We were touring churches in the area that have pipe organs. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, on the corner of C St. and Oak, is a beautiful building with a fine pipe organ. As you can see from the photo, the building was built in 1855. You can read the history of the church here. I don’t know if it is the oldest building in Marysville, but it may well be.
That got me to thinking — what is the oldest building in Chico? Marysville is older than Chico, and I was pretty sure there was nothing older than 1860, when Chico was founded.
So I did what any sensible person does nowadays, I posted the question on Facebook, on the “You Know You’re From Chico . . .” page. And I got my answer. From Randy Taylor, that expert on all things Chico. He said:
Bidwell’s Store (Tres Hombres) was built in 1861 but only one wall, the north wall, is original. The Sommer Gage house was built in the 1860’s and is the oldest home in the city limits. The Wright Patrick house next to the cemetery on the Midway was built in 1852 and is probably the oldest north of Sacramento. The oldest original complete building would be the Masonic building (Colliers) which was constructed in 1871.
Bidwell’s Store was a two-story building on the corner of 1st St. and Broadway, built in 1861. The second story is gone now. It was right across the street from Bidwell’s nursery, and across the creek from Bidwell Mansion, a short walk for General Bidwell. It has housed a variety of businesses over the years, and currently it is Tres Hombres restaurant.
The Allen-Sommer-Gage house is at 410 Normal Ave. (which at the time the house was built, was called Sycamore Ave.) It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was completed in 1862, making it the oldest dwelling in Chico. And it is more complete than Bidwell’s Store. Helen Sommer was born in the house in 1888 and was living in it when she died in 1980.
One of these days I’ll write about the Wright-Patrick House, the oldest house north of Sacramento. (Not the same as the house at Patrick Ranch.)
Bidwell Mansion, by the way, was completed in 1868. At which point Bidwell tore down the two-story adobe house/office/hotel/tavern that he built in 1852.