Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Happy Birthday to a slice of SCV history

Signal Editorial

Saturday, August 17, 2002

T
wenty-five-cent hot-dogs and sodas. Hand-cranked ice cream. It's a party and you're invited to Newhall Hardware today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    The venerable hardware store is celebrating its 55th year in business, and that's quite an accomplishment. Statistics show that half of all businesses don't make it through their first 12 months, and about 80 percent don't last three years.
    It isn't the oldest business in Santa Clarita — Newhall Land and Newhall Ice and maybe a few others predate it — but Newhall Hardware is a fixture in our valley's Old Town business district. Its narrow aisles jammed with every imaginable tool and household item haven't really changed much since Don Guglielmino started the place in 1947 at 725 Spruce Street.
    But don't bother hunting down that address because you won't find it. One thing that has changed — actually two things — are the street and number. No, the business hasn't moved; a couple of years after the store opened, Los Angeles County road crews came in the dark of night and changed most of Spruce Street to "San Fernando Road" and replaced the small-town addresses to five-digit numbers based on a measurement from downtown Los Angeles.
    "Fury raged through Newhall," former Signal Editor Ruth Newhall wrote of the street-name change. "It was bad enough to have the street name changed without so much as a by-your-leave to businesses or to the residents. To have it replaced by the name of the despised rival community over the hill was hardly believable."
    Fifty years later, local sentiments aren't all that different.
    But Newhall changed as the valley grew up and new shopping centers emerged where once were bean and onion fields. The old business district now had some serious competition, and business after business failed or, like the car dealerships, moved closer to the new population centers in Valencia.
    Don G., as they called him, stuck it out and even became a power broker in the development game, co-founding a community bank that helped fuel the valley's growth.
    His Newhall Hardware remained popular with construction workers and weekend tinkerers alike, and Don G. kept the store in the same location — 24322 San Fernando Road. He opened a garden and lawnmower repair shop across the street on Railroad Avenue and ran it successfully until the city came along and built the Jan Heidt Newhall Metrolink Station there.
    By that time the much anticipated revitalization of Old Town Newhall was well under way, with Newhall Hardware one of its anchors and its longtime manager, Victor Feany, a vocal member of the city's redevelopment committee.
    Feany bought the store in 1998, and soon thereafter, Don G. was gone.
    "Sometimes I feel I'm not the owner, but the caretaker," said Feany, sandwiched between the tight, packed shelves. "This is a piece of history."
    "We hope the future will bring what the past has brought for the next 50 years," he said.
    So do we. Happy birthday, Newhall Hardware, and we accept your invitation to the party.


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