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SLOJX History for LunchHistory for Lunch Does the word “history” conjure up images of classrooms, tests, a jumble of names and dates…two-dimensional history confined to a page? Why not leave the books behind and do some first hand investigations? How about a healthy, calorie/fat-free smorgasbord of exploring the City’s heritage? Try taking short walking tours during a lunch break or two…or any other time…and enjoy some savory servings of interesting bits from our past. Make your way to City Hall. There are plenty of benches near the corner of the parking lot at Osos and Mill Streets. Notice the large monument with a plaque that proclaims “General” John C. Fremont ended the Mexican-American War…not quite true…but he was involved in the War and he was here. In fact, it was a San Luisian who helped him end the California part of the conflict. Here’s the story. When Fremont (a lieutenant-colonel at the time) and his men “invaded” the small settlement on a wet, muddy and wretched night in 1846, they encountered only frightened residents. However, they did find Jose de Jesus Pico…wanted for violating his parole with the Union army. While the plaque states Fremont encamped near the City Hall, he held a trial and spent the miserable nights under the Mission’s roof. Pico was informed his fate would be the same as his messenger. He was to be executed at sunrise. A tearful brigade of women and children interceded for him and he was spared. Fremont, instead, used the grateful Pico to help negotiate a peace treaty with his cousin, Andres, the brother of California’s last Mexican governor, Pio Pico. Thus, in part through the efforts of our Pico, California was spared further conflict. Today Campo de Cahuenga commemorates the site of the treaty negotiations signed on January 13, 1847. Andres and Pio Pico continued to own vast amounts of real estate. Fremont went on to etch his name in American and California history (he was one of the first two Senators from the State) while our Pico lived for many more years in the community dying in his bed in 1892. In a laudable instance of civic pride, the Native Daughters of the Golden West, the Monday Club and the “children of San Luis Obispo” were kind enough to remember the episode with a plaque. Now walk two short blocks south past the transit center and City-County Library. You’ll need to take a quick glace to your left and note the weathervane at the top of the building. It is a copy of the one used over the first County Court House. The former building was a splendid Georgian mansion built to impress as well as serve the growing County. Unfortunately, it was razed in 1940 by a new contractor named Alex Madonna to make way for the current…much less imposing…County facility. The original weathervane proved too tempting and was “liberated” a few years ago – fortunately to be returned - and now rests securely inside the building. At the corner of Osos and Monterey stop in front of the stunning J. P. Andrews Bank Building – which hasn’t been a bank for a long time – looking out over the same intersection for over 100 years. If buildings could talk what a tale this one would weave! Built in 1893 it was the site of the first library…upstairs…from its opening in 1894 until the Carnegie Library was built about ten years later. If you need to rest, there is an expresso bar a few doors around the corner. Now, simply cross the street to the new shops on property of the former site of the Casa Grande. One of the most famous non-existing adobe structures in San Luis Obispo, the Casa Grande was built by Nipomo’s pioneer citizen William G. Dana as a combination hotel and business center in the early 1850s at a reputed cost of $50,000. The feat was exceptional since lumber had to be hauled from elsewhere including the east coast as there were no local mills. It became the second County office location (the first was the Mission) and included a courtroom (thus the origin of the Court Street name) and was succeeded in 1873 by the Georgian edifice with the rooster weathervane. It was demolished to make way for a new bank building. You probably won’t have time to shop as work beckons and the return to yesterday will have to wait another day…how about tomorrow? Here’s hoping you enjoyed your lunch break. Whenever co-workers ask where you dined, tell them you’ll treat them next time to the newest spot in town… BACK IN TIME! LEARN MORE ABOUT IT! Billed as “The most important historic landmark west of the Mississippi,” the Cahuenga treaty site may be visited at www.campodecahuenga.com 791 Fremont: Echoes of the Past