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As It Was: McCormick Saeltzer Co. Becomes Redding’s Major Retailer

In 1877, three businessmen put up $1,500 each to start a new business in Redding, Calif.  The investors were Dr. Louis Wellendorf, James McCormick and Ruldoph Saeltzer.  A year later, Dr. Wellendorf sold his interest to Williamson Lyncoya Smith.

The original store measured 28 by 40 feet on the southeast corner of Butte and California streets.  In 1888, the owners purchased additional property on the west side of Market Street and moved the store there, where it eventually covered the entire block between Yuba and Placer streets.  Known as “the Big Store,” it was said to be the largest retail store between Sacramento and Portland. 

The red-brick building with small windows was typical of the “old California style” of architecture.   Later, plate glass windows on the first floor extended 70 feet along the street front.  In 1897, more plate glass windows were installed on the front of the store facing Market Street.  Six years later in 1903, the owners remodeled the store to conform with the latest architectural styles.

A fire destroyed the landmark Big Store in 1938, burning for two days and requiring more than 3 million gallons to fight it.

Sources: “McCormick Saeltzer Company.” The Covered Wagon, 1972, pp. 32-38; Smith, Dottie. "Travelin' in Time: Big Store was longtime landmark in Redding." Record Searchlight, 4 Dec. 2009 [Redding, Calif.] , archive.redding.com/lifestyle/travelin-in-time-big-store-was-longtime-landmark-in-redding-ep-377254669-355446201.html. Accessed 24 Aug. 2018.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.