Touring Arcata Plaza, Destination # 14

Ben Franklin

813 H St.

Built: 1885

Period: Settlement Architecture c. 1850-1885

The Ben Franklin building, whose history spans a century of use as a saloon, bank, men's clothing store, service station, and five and dime store, was remodeled to its present stucco and red tile facade in 1947. The streetscape mural on the south wall by local artist Jonathan McCrone adds a special touch to its 1940's storefront architecture.

In 1885, Arcata builder Theodore Dean constructed these two stores for C.C. Richards. The south one was veteran saloonkeeper Richards' establishment for twenty years, a tradition carried on by subsequent proprietors. By 1924, current owner Ole Peterson sold out his "soft drink parlor" to P.C. Sacchi, who expanded his Sacchi Service Station from the north side. The north store was the home of the Bank of Arcata from 1886 until it moved to the new bank up the street in 1891. Men's haberdasheries occupied the space until Sacchi opened the Arcata Vulcanizing Works here in 1919. The Sacchi Service Station utilized the entire building from 1924 until 1947, followed by the opening of Ben Franklin which continues today, almost forty years later.

The original Richards' Block was quite a handsome Victorian building. Mouldings, cornice brackets and highly¬decorative corner and center pilasters provided lavish embellishment to the wood frame building. Centered on the cornice above the entrances to both stores were pediments which identified the occupants. The entire facade of the saloon, consisting of double doors and large, four pane windows topped by a row of transoms, was recessed behind a canvas awning.