It won’t be long before Madera’s past will once more be celebrated in fine fashion. Old Timers Day is fast approaching, and hundreds of people will flock to Courthouse Park to take in the display booths, sample the food, and enjoy one another’s company. The atmosphere in the park will be festive — quite a contrast to what took place on that very spot more than 100 years ago.
In 1909, the Madera County Board of Supervisors saw the need for a courthouse park, and they were involved in some heavy negotiations. They were attempting to purchase the east side of block 25, which was that area that lay between the newly erected courthouse and F Street, precisely where this year’s Day-in-the-Park will take place.
The talks were not going well. The parties could not get together on a price. At issue was a row of businesses along F Street, beginning with the Japanese boarding house whose proprietor was known only as “George.” It stood on the corner of Sixth and F Streets. Known as the “Shady Corner,” the structure was one of the earliest commercial buildings to be built in Madera and at one time housed the Lucca Hotel, operated by a branch of the Simi family.
At the other end of the block, on the corner of F Street and Yosemite Avenue, stood McCluskey’s saloon and barber shop. In between was the Chinese store of Lee Sam, his two-story lodging house, and the Yosemite Livery, Feed & Sale stable operated by W.B. Coffman...