Coulterville (No. 332 California Historical Landmark)
California Historical Landmarks Program
Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. Historical Landmarks are eligible for registration if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
1) Is the first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region
2) Is associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California
3) Is a prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder
California’s Landmark Program began in the late 1800s with the formation of the Landmarks Club and the California Historical Landmarks League. In 1931, the program became official when legislation charged the Department of Natural Resources—and later the California State Chamber of Commerce—with registering and marking buildings of historical interest or landmarks.
In 1948, Governor Earl Warren created the California Historical Landmarks Advisory Committee to increase the integrity and credibility of the program. Finally, this committee was changed to the California Historical Resources Commission in 1974. Information about registered landmarks numbered 770 onward is kept in the California Register of Historical Resources authoritative guide. Landmarks numbered 669 and below were registered prior to establishing specific standards, and may be added to the California Register when criteria for evaluating the properties are adopted.
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The entire town of Coulterville is a historic landmark, consisting of 42 buildings, seventeen miles from Bear Valley. True West magazine featured Coulterville in its January 2011 issue as one of the “Towns to Watch” for good works in historic preservation, as well as several legendary Old West locales that folks should visit in 2011. Coulterville became was one of the most important trading centers of the southern end of the Mother Lode.
Coulterville was originally called Banderita (meaning small red flag) to recognize the earlier Mexican settlers who carried small red flags with them. George Coulter, the town’s namesake later became a commissioner for the Yosemite Valley land grant. George Coulter established a store in 1849 where miners bought tents and he built the town’s first hotel that still stands today. The post office was established in 1852.
The Hotel Jeffrey was built in 1851 to accommodate stagecoach passengers on their way to Yosemite. Today the hotel is newly remodeled and offers rooms uniquely designed with period furnishings. Magnolia Saloon and Grill with its traditional swinging doors is part of the hotel. The roster of guests included gold miners, presidents, gun fighters and those seeking adventure from around the world.
As a result of three major fires that spread through the town over the years and a flood, the Wells Fargo building and the Chinese grocery are the only additional buildings that remain standing today from the 1850s. The former Chinese grocery Sun Sun Woo Company, owned by Sun Woo, is located at the far end of town where the Chinese immigrants lived. Today the store is a gift shop. Other interesting sights include the hangman’s tree and an old mine locomotive sitting in front of the Hotel Jeffrey.
The marker is located at the county park, NE corner of intersection of County Highway J20 and State Highway 132 (P.M. 44.8), Coulterville.
The wonders of the Yosemite Valley’s granite cliffs lie in eastern Mariposa County. The small settlements in the western foothills of the county sprang up during the Gold Rush. The people in these early mining towns made many decisions affecting statewide mining law.
Time Period Represented