Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Swall Hotel (Newhall Pharmacy) Block

Newhall, California

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Downtown Newhall appears to be all decked out for the 1948 Fourth of July Parade on this real-photo postcard that was mailed from Newhall on July 12, 1948, postage 1 cent. The sender, identified only as "Blanche," admitted to the recipient that "really, Newhall looks better in the picture. Nice wide streets, and a very busy place" (see back, below).

Starting in the middle, at the southwest corner of Spruce and Market streets, we see the old Swall Hotel building, which is already Ralph Williams' Newhall Pharmacy here. Williams took over the pharmacy, the old Hawley Drug store, in 1943. (The Signal, July 2, 1943.) We don't know the whole story, but Hawley's was still in business in 1948-49, exactly one block to the north.

Williams sold Rexall pharmaceutical products; thus the branding. The upstairs is still a hotel. The ground-level entrance identifies it as Hotel Newhall.

The building was reconstructed after the 1971 earthquake. As of 2020, it's home to The Old Town Junction, a restaurant.

At far left is the sign for the Horseshoe Café, which opened in 1946. The property owners were Bill Putnam and Dick Worthey. The initial café owner-operators were Jake and Mildred Hamburg of 311 Fifteenth Street, Newhall (The Signal, February 21, 1946). They didn't last long; in May 1947, the restaurant was taken over by J.R. "Rod" and Edna M. Rose of San Fernando, who had run the Sweet Shop on Spruce Street (The Signal, May 22, 1947). Come August 1947, the Roses were out, and Putnam and Worthey were looking for a new café operator. They didn't find one — at least, not by the time this photograph was made. Here, "Horseshoe Café" is just a sign.

Now we go from a sign without a business to a business with out a sign. In between the café sign and Ralph Williams' Pharmacy building is a business at 635-637 Spruce Street with no sign across the top to say what it is. It's H&H Auto Parts, aka the local Firestone shop. "H&H" were C.E. Hadley and R.W. Hogan of Burbank. They bought the business in 1947 from Putnam and Worthey, Inc. (The Signal, April 24, 1947). We don't know if they also bought the property.

The county renamed Spruce Street "San Fernando Road" in the early 1950s and then changed the street addresses from three digits to five in 1955. In 2007, the city of Santa Clarita changed the street name to "Main Street."

Market Street is still Market Street. Across Market Street from Ralph Williams' Pharmacy is the old Motor Stage Café. In 2020, the site is a liquor store and gift shop.

Beyond it, we see two equestrians — one on horseback and the other standing next to a horse. We don't know if they're here for the parade, or if it's just another day in Newhall.

Then comes an atypical side view of Tom Frew's welding shop. We're accustomed to seeing it from the front.

As for the wide streets, they weren't particulary pedestrian-friendly — except maybe on parade day — inasmuch as they facilitated 50mph-plus blow-through traffic. In the first two decades of the 21st Century, the city of Santa Clarita removed two traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, added stop signs and greenery, accommodated outdoor café seating, subsidized live theater, built a big library and hosted community events to create a warmer atmosphere and attract more people than downtown Newhall had ever seen. Except maybe on parade day.

Click image to enlarge | Download archival scan

LW3748: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2018 by Leon Worden.
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