Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

James Gulley & Albert Swall's General Store
Newhall, California

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James M. Gulley and Albert C. Swall's general store and meat market (butcher shop) at the northwest corner of Railroad Avenue and Market Street (facing Railroad), ca. 1904-1906.

J.O. Newhall, a relative of town founder Henry M. Newhall, built this general store in the 1880s, across Market Street from the Southern Hotel. Sometime in the 1890s it was purchased and operated by James M. Gulley.

Reynolds[1] tells us Albert C. Swall was 19 when he arrived in Newhall in 1890. He was one of three sons of J.A. "Jake" Swall Sr., and together they harvested wheat on Newhall Land & Farming Co. property in the western Santa Clarita Valley in the 1890s.

According to Perkins[2], Albert left the family harvesting business in 1904 to establish a meat market inside Gulley's store.

Swall was still Gulley's tenant in 1906 when Gulley sold the property[3] to William Mayhue, a friend of Henry Clay Needham who, like his friend, hailed from the Kentucky-Tennessee area. Mayhue worked in the Rice Canyon oil fields in the 1890s.

In 1914 Mayhue raised the rent on what was now Swall's general store. Swall responded by closing up shop and moving one block west to Market and Spruce, where Swall built a hotel. Others followed his lead and helped turn Spruce (later called San Fernando Road and still later, Main Street) into Newhall's main street. Up to that point, business activity centered around Railroad Avenue.

The general store property apparently went downhill when Swall abandoned it. A photo shows what was left of it after it was something called the El-Dorado, apparently a saloon. Around 1919, Lloyd Houghton, who married Mayhue's daughter Opal, bought the property and turned it into the Hap-A-Lan dance hall.

Hap-A-Lan was a nightclub after dark and a popular meeting place during the day — until the St. Francis Dam Disaster of March 12, 1928, when it was used as a makeshift morgue. After that, nobody wanted to party in it any more and it was torn down. In 1931 the county courthouse was erected on the property.

Legend tells us the flooring from the original one-story general store/dance hall was salvaged and installed upstairs in the two-story courthouse. The second-story section came to be known as the "Rafters" when the Canyon Theatre Guild used the space from 1971-1974. The same space was later used by Alchoholics Anonymous.

1. Reynolds, Jerry. "Santa Clarita: Valley of the Golden Dream," World of Communications Inc., Granada Hills, Calif., 1992.
2. "History of Eternal Valley From 1769" by A.B. Perkins, Eternal Valley Memorial Park, 1958.
3. Reynolds, op. cit.

Incidentally, the telephone pole to the left of the store indicates it's no earlier than 1900, when Newhall's first phone came in. Mermaid Queen soap was manufactured by the Los Angeles Soap Company at least as early as 1898. Meek's Bread (click to enlarge the photo; the sign is at right) dates from the same period and was located on Olive Street near 7th in Los Angeles.

AP0105: 9600 dpi jpeg from copy print | Same as AP1602

See Also:
• Railroad Avenue
• Swall Family
• Swall Hotel


J.O. Newhall 1880s


Gulley-Swall 1904/06


Mayhue Store 1914/19


El-Dorado ~1919


Morgue 1928


Hap-A-Lan Piano


(3) Lloyd Houghton Paintings

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