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SLOJX History for Lunch IIHistory for Lunch II Joseph A. Carotenuti You were invited last time to spend your lunch break walking a few blocks between the City Hall and the new Court Street complex. Not a long walk…but filled with history. Today’s historically delicious lunch is even shorter. It begins in the very core of San Luis Obispo…the corner of Monterey and Chorro Streets. Named Mission Street until 1857, Monterey was the premier boulevard (actually a dirt path) through the settlement once known as the Pueblo of San Luis Obispo. From this spot, the community radiates only confined by its cerros (hills) and open space preserves. From this corner, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa sits elevated on its original site, ready to reveal bits of its history to anyone interested in one of the oldest structures in California. Simply walking through the church built in the early 1790s, resting in the Garden, or visiting the Museum will provide a satisfying lunch break. Be quiet…you might just hear echoes from the generations of joys and sorrows that reverberate through Time within the venerable building. Be sure to note on Chorro Street near a side entrance to the Mission Plaza the forlorn El Camino Real bell. Once lining the few major corridors of travel in the State, few original bells remain followed by generations of imitations. Ours…originally facing Monterey… has witnessed history since 1909 and deserves some tender care. On the opposite side of the street from the El Camino Bell…hidden beneath clapboard…is the Sauer Adobe. George Sauer was an early Town Trustee and baker. He would happily bake bread or a wedding cake for you as well as sell groceries and cigars. Immediately to the left from the corner of Monterey and Chorro, the Mission Grill occupies the site of Fulton’s Market where fresh meat hanging in front of the shop enticed customers while garbage exited through the back…and into the San Luis Creek. A building next to the market built in 1876 by the Lasar Brothers had many uses, including the offices of the second Town newspaper (first issue: August 7, 1869) the Tribune. Once the building was razed in 1954, the Creek – a not too pretty site – was visible. More importantly, the new view gave further impetus to a growing movement to close Monterey and open a plaza. And that truly is another (long) story best saved for later. The Mission continues along the Plaza. To your right is the convento wing used to house the religious personnel and shops…but it was also the community’s first school, jail, and court. With a little imagination it’s December 1846 and there’s Captain John C. Fremont pacing in the portico waiting for the miserable rain to stop so he could move on with his men to end the California participation in the Mexican-American War. (see History for Lunch I). Continue with a leisurely stroll through the (once controversial) Plaza over ground used for bear and bull fights, religious processions, or to greet dignitaries from Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and the first settlers of San Francisco (1776) to President Theodore Roosevelt (1903) who came briefly to pass on to other places…and other’s history. Don’t be alarmed that the Murray Adobe along the Plaza promenade is large enough only for Lilliputians. The home of Judge Murray was much larger and saw most of the prominent citizens of the Town and then City (1876) of San Luis Obispo pass through its doors. Today, only the imagination can create the sound and sights of history shadowed by the fading of time. An adobe wall of the relic is seen from the adjoining patio. Adobe was the most fireproof building material of the times as wood buildings burned to the ground with regularity. The covered patio was used frequently in the 1970s when Linnaea Phillips organized a lunch program providing speakers recalling their experiences and remembrances from living in the area. Today, the recorded conversations are themselves treasuries of history. Wouldn’t it be a splendid addition to the community to begin a new series? Immediately across the lawn the Art Center is itself a satisfying lunch tour (or two)! On the opposite corner, the stately Carnegie Library (now the County Historical Society) requires a visit – and a separate lunch – to appreciate its displays and bookstore…let alone its nostalgia as the city’s second library. Still have a few minutes? …find some steps to the San Luis Creek which has its own ancient history. From being the main sewer line for the emerging community to today’s many serene and refreshing spots, the Creek brought life necessary water to the earliest pioneers and now protects endangered species. The Creek has flowed through our entire civic heritage and encourages us to remember to “smell of roses” even if we think we haven’t the time to find any. A tranquil lunch – either from a bag sitting on a bench near the stream allowing the flow of time and memories to refresh us or at a table elevated above the water - is always a treat. Did you know the plaza continues across Broad Street and provides for a leisurely walk along the elegant stream to the new (and waiting for benefactors to be completed) Children’s Museum? You might possibly want to save the Plaza extension for another lunch break and enjoy the outdoor art along the way. Well, it’s time to return to today…there’s always more work to do…but history will patiently remain for your return and is always grateful for your interest. Bon Appetit!