Wheaton & Luhrs

Cropped and contrast enhanced from Library of Congress HABS CAL,26-BODI,14--1 (1962 photograph)

George Henry Wheaton - 8/21/2015

The building that has been lovingly called "The Wheaton & Hollis Hotel" for the last 35 years has nothing to do with anyone named "Hollis." In the early 1880's, the sign used to read "WHEATON & LUHRS." After a few years it was painted over with "BODIE STORE," and then painted white with no sign. The "HOLLIS" name is not part of the sign, but rather an illusion created by the combination of the two overlapping signs which were once again revealed decades later when the building's white paint faded. The "S" of BODIE STORE looks like an "&" sign.

Early park brochures referred to the building as the Hydro Building, and the U.S. Land Office.

Many people have said they wish the walls could talk. If one listens very carefully sometimes the walls whisper. A photograph taken recently in the grazing late afternoon light of the Winter Solstice reveals the LUHRS part of the sign and another sign below it for Wm Roush - Agent. Wm Roush also appears on billheads for the Bodie Store in 1887. The photograph was taken with filters, and contrast enhanced to bring out the lettering. The same sign can be seen in the 1962 photograph when analyzed. The "RS" of "LUHRS" is quite obvious to the naked eye even today.

George Wheaton George Wheaton was born in New York City in 1837. Major Wheaton served during the civil war as a judge-advocate. His father was William Rufus Wheaton, a lawyer, politician, and baseball pioneer who sailed to San Francisco in 1849 to prospect in the gold fields. After the civil war, George moved to San Francisco where he was a partner of the "merchant prince" company of Collins, Wheaton, and Luhrs, who were commission merchants and wholesale dealers in butter, cheese, lard, hams, and bacon. Glass jars from the firm used to pack food can still be found.

James H. Page, George H. Wheaton, and Nicholas C. Luhrs recorded a general business partnership in Mono County by the name of Page, Wheaton, and Co. They acquired a store on Main Street and Standard Avenue which was previously owned by Silas B. Smith and renamed it Page, Wheaton and Co. . James Page left the partnership after only a few months and started his own store on the corner of Main and Mill streets. By 1883, Wheaton & Luhrs were only paying taxes on a store on Green and Main Streets. Billheads and newspapers show Wheaton & Luhrs had a store on the corner of Main and Green streets that sold hardware, iron, and powder, etc..Wheaton and Luhrs paid taxes for the building which was listed as a Wells Fargo Express Office and a store. By 1886, billheads began referring to the building as the "Bodie Store." According to Ella Cain, the building was used as a U.S. Land Office in 1885-1886, when her father, Michael J. Cody, was appointed by President Cleveland as Receiver of Public Moneys for the U.S. Land Office. It is likely the building had multiple purposes during that year. An 1890 Sanborn map shows the building used as a general store, warehouse, dining area, and a hand printing section. Several attached vacant buildings were torn down in 1894.

In 1910, the Bodie Store was repaired to be used as offices of the Hydro-Electric Company. The brick part of the building, previously used as a warehouse, became an electric power substation when the Pacific Power Co. started providing electricity from the Jordan Power Plant to Bodie on Christmas Day, 1911.

J.S. Cain acquired the building when the Pacific Power Company became bankrupt in 1915. An auction was held in front of the building. The building became part of lease agreements for mining companies and was used as a boarding house for miners.







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