Let your fingers do the walking

I recently enjoyed going to the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Central Public Library to research various homes and buildings in our neighborhood. One great way to find out more about the history of your home or a particular building is to consult the City Directories in your area.

While the old City Directories bear some resemblance to the phone books we receive once a year these days, they appear to be much more useful. Listings were available by name, address and phone number -- perfect for retrospectively cross-referencing with other documents for research purposes. Per the 1956 Sacramento City Directory:

"When you want to know:
-- where a person lives.
-- what his occupation is.
-- who lives at a certain number on a street.
-- where a street is located.
-- the correct spelling of a name.
-- the officers of a corporation.
-- the partners in a firm;
-- the solution to any of scores of problems that pop up unexpectedly to annoy and baffle you.
-- your can quickly find the answer in the City Directory."

In addition to being extremely informative, they also contain cool vintage advertisements. Surprisingly, some of these businesses are still around today -- and then there are others we wish still were!


More examples can be seen on my Flickr set.

As you can see they even used the old cool telephone exchange names back then. You know -- as an PEnnsylvania 6-5000?

Serving Suggestion: former restaurant needs TLC

Just half a mile up the street from our Eichler Homes neighborhood sits an old shell of a restaurant, Neptune's Table -- once a well known, old-school surf-and-turf in the 1960's to 80's. In its heyday, Hank and Tim Stroh ran this traditional white cloth establishment. Lobster dishes and Cornish hens were specialties.

It is hard to imagine (in its current state) that for 19 years it was also the home of the Raider Rooters Booster Club and visited frequently by Raiders team members for a weekly feast. Per R.E. Graswich, in a Sacramento Bee article dated May 1, 1998, "They toasted victory and vowed revenge, laughed and filled their bellies with beer and booze and chicken and baked potatoes and green beans and French bread."

Also per Graswich's article, restauranteur Hank Stroh owned many other Sacramento bars and restaurants: "Clunie Coffee Shop, Parkview Restaurant, Little Roma, Henry's Bottle Shop and Lounge, the Windsor, the Arcade, and others.... Among Stroh's armada of food halls and watering holes, Neptune's Table was his crown jewel. He bought it in 1967..."

According to my research, the building was designed by William Koblik and built ~1960. It was first occupied by The Red Rose, a cocktail lounge (with burlesque, per Patty Russell, a former dancer.) The Sacramento City Directory from 1962/63 then states the restaurant was home to "Raeders Gourmet Restaurant," later corrected to "Roeder's" in the 1965 Directory. In 1966, it was listed as "Vacant" and then it became Neptune's Table in 1967.

In the late 90's, Neptune's Table was simply "Neptune" under local chef David Soohoo.  Afterwards, for a short period of time it became the Highlander, a Scottish pub/restaurant. However, since 2004 it has been unoccupied. I would love to see this space turned into a coffee shop/diner such as Pann's in LA (the coffee shop in Pulp Fiction) more on their food here; Latif's in Turlock; or Jimmy's in San Jose. Or how about a tiki bar/lounge/restaurant like they had in-the-day here in town, such as the Zombie Hut or Coral Reef?

I'd love to hear any memories of this restaurant or other constructive ideas on how to bring this building back to life. Any local restauranteur or investor willing to step up to the plate -- literally?

More Googie goodness: Eppie's Restaurant

Eppie's Restaurant, Sacramento, CA

This Eppie's Restaurant was designed by world-famous Googie architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis from Los Angeles. It was completed in 1964. Apparently, per Mr. Armet's self-report to the American Institute of Architects for their directory, Armet & Davis received an award for this building.

Louis L. Armet (1914-1981) & Eldon C. Davis via GoogieArt.com
Per the current website for Armet Davis Newlove Architects "In the 50's and 60's the firm became internationally known for its "Googie" design style and built hundreds of restaurants that reflected the nation's emergence into the age of flight and its look to the future."

Rendering of Eppie's by Armet and Davis via GoogieArt.com

Per a Sacramento Bee article written by Jon Ortiz dated April 28, 2004, "The chain started in 1964, when founder Eppamianondas "Eppie" Johnson opened the first 24-hour restaurant at 30th and N streets. At its zenith, it boasted 20 shops stretching as far south as Fresno."

Sadly, this coffee shop/diner has been closed since 2004. However, restauranteur Eppie Johnson is still working hard. Mr. Johnson founded The Great Race in 1974, reportedly "The World's Oldest Triathlon", which generates "over $600,000 in donations for regional programs that benefit the physically and mentally disabled" per their website. More here.

Other posts in this blog regarding Sacramento's Googie architecture can be seen here, here, here and here.

Hope your weekend is filled to the brim with fun!

My favorite bookstore: Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts

One rainy day last Fall I had the pleasure of revisiting Richard L. Press Fine & Scholarly Books on the Arts. I've been a long-time client but hadn't visited this independent bookstore since he had been at his former L Street location.

A kind, cultured, learned and generous soul, Richard will help you find any book he has in stock. If you behave and are respectful, you may get to pet the resident cat, be offered a piece of fine chocolate, and peruse the shelves for fine and rare books on any number of decorative arts of the 20th century as long as you wish.

His store is welcoming, cozy, and makes you want to slow down. Don't go here in a hurry. Relax and take it all in. Can't make it to his store? Then make a virtual visit online. Per his website:
"I buy and sell new, out of print and rare books primarily in the arts, i.e. sculpture, painting, printmaking, prints, printing, graphic arts, posters and poster art, photography, architecture. All the decorative arts of the 20th century is a specialty as is pre-20th century decorative arts the world over. Other specialties include textiles and textile art, books by and about women artists, ballet and dance, how-to books, very selective, as applied to the arts, books about books, artists' books, and a small selection of literature, music and film books."
If you're in town, I highly recommend a visit; support our community and patronize a local, independent book dealer.

Let's do the time warp again

My friend Jason over at Studebaker Guide did a recent post featuring a picture he took of his 1950 Studebaker Champion (named "Doc") in front of Pancake Circus. Cards and prints are available online.

I love this image! Nothing reflects post-war optimism and exuberance more than 1950s cars and Googie architecture. For more about Googie, see my previous post and for more regarding Studebakers I highly recommend Jason's blog.

Sacramento's "Home of Tomorrow"

In 1951, a joint project created by the ~160 "Associated Home Builders of Sacramento" and Sacramento architect Albert Dreyfuss resulted in the "Home of Tomorrow" which was reportedly "the first of its kind to be erected in the United States."

The "Home of Tomorrow" was promoted during the 1951 California State Fair (which coincided with National Home Week) and received national attention. Per a November 7, 1951 Kentucky New Era newspaper article written by Fred J. Walker: "Tens of thousands of interested homeseekers, architects, and builders from all parts of the west have inspected the structure since Sept. 8 when it was opened for a 60-day public inspection." Admission proceeds were given to charity.

Chock full of "the latest in modern architecture and living conveniences" the home stood as a monument to post-war innovation and enthusiasm. For example, General Electric's "New World Kitchen" with a built-in soda fountain and snack bar. Sweet! The kitchen -- which reportedly cost GE $100,000 to develop -- also had the following features: "electric sink with garbage removal unit, automatic dishwasher, automatic washer and ironer, and kitchen cabinets with doors which raise upward and are held out of the way by spring action."

The L-shaped floor plan was designed to allow easy passage throughout the home without traveling through multiple rooms. Note the large kitchen and living room areas.

The large living room windows (referred to as "major fenestration" in an August 1952 American Builder article) allowed an open view of the home's back yard. Other fantastic features included air conditioning, heating equipment and "automatically-controlled garage doors." Some today might consider these features standard issue but back then they were considered modern and luxurious.


Perhaps my favorite feature is the "remote control wiring system" for lighting throughout the home which "lights a person's way, then darkens rooms after one passes through."

The 2,500 square foot home cost $59,500 in 1951. According to my calculations using the CPI Inflation Calculator, that equals $495,062.88 in 2009 dollars.


I'm still trying to determine if this home remains standing today, its current condition, and in which neighborhood it was built. Please feel free to contact me if you have additional information. Special thanks to Sacramento Eichler home owner Dane Henas for passing along the American Builder article!