Local Business

Fullerton Heritage presents: Local Landmark Number 72: Dreyfus Building

417-427 South Harbor Boulevard

On June 24, 1924, the Santa Ana Daily Register reported that San Mateo “capitalist” Emil B. Dreyfus (1873-1943), founder of the Peninsula Burner and Oil Company of San Francisco, would be constructing a new business block on South Harbor Boulevard as a real estate investment. Emil was the son of former Anaheim mayor Benjamin Dreyfus (1824-1886), a wealthy Jewish wine tycoon born in Bavaria. The commercial building was to be constructed on three lots purchased a month earlier from pioneer rancher Eugene Livingstone (1863-1940). The project was one of several building plans the South Side Improvement Association hoped would bring people and commerce to the underserved south side of Fullerton. Opened on September 10,1924, the business block was not an immediate success, with only a few of the store fronts rented. But over the decades, the complex would house a fruit and vegetable market, a café, a liquor store, a printing shop, a taxidermy, and several automotive dealerships and service departments. During World War II, the Fullerton Feeder Shop (425 S. Harbor Blvd.) served as an employment center for men and women seeking vital war work in the defense industry.

Nearly all of Fullerton’s business blocks were rectangular-shaped boxes, but in a departure from the traditional format, the Dreyfus Building used a dramatic Cottagestyle, and the L-shaped brick building effectively dominates the surrounding streetscape. The structure’s gable roof is primarily one story, except for the prominent corner section where second story casement windows are featured under a steep compound gable, giving the building a Midwestern flavor. The part of the building that fronts Harbor Boulevard was constructed for $21,000 for Emil Dreyfus, with later sections added to the rear of the structure after World War II, including a garage in 1945 for servicing cars and the corner portion of the building used for automotive dealers.

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