The Belknap Building

Belknap Building in 1907

On August 24, 1906 the citizens of Lemoore were aroused by the sound of the fire alarms. A wooden structure at the corner of Heinlen and D street, originally a blacksmith shop, now the Bank Exchange Saloon owned by John Wesley Belknap was doomed as was the Model Store also owned by Belknap.

The debris and rubbish were removed quickly and a few months later a contract was issued to J. F. Brown of Hanford for a building with 60 feet of frontage on Heinlen street and 100 feet on D street. The Lemoore Hardware building, Walter Petefish proprietor, was moved and work on removing the dirt for the basement, the full size of the building, was begun. On December 1st, 1906 Frank Fair and his brother of Hanford laid the first brick. The building was accepted on October 10, 1907. The cost for the building and fixture was $20,000 according to the Lemoore Republican newspaper.

Prior to the Bank Exchange fire, Belknap, who believed in the potential of Lemoore, was having plans drawn for a new two story building as early as 1905. The original plans were to reopen the Bank Exchange Saloon and have the upper floor divided up for offices. Later the upper floor was to be a hall and opera house with a pool hall and bowling alley adjoining the saloon. Instead of Bank Exchange Saloon, Brick’s Place saloon was opened during the construction on August 23, 1907.

Early Model Store Ad

From the Lemoore Republican of November 1st, 1907: “Mr. Phipps barbershop is the neatest in the valley and is a credit to any town the size of Lemoore. The fixtures in the liquor store of Mr. Belknap are as fine as any in the valley, and the place is conducted in first class style. The Model Store is one of the neatest places in the valley with private booths arranged where cold lunches are served in the most palatable style. Mr. Brownstone caters to the wants of his customers, and the Model Store is a popular resort in our city. The Lemoore Hardware store contains a nice line of goods, one of the windows and a portion of the room being occupied by McDuff the tailor, who is kept busy from early morn till late at night supplying the wants of his many customers in neatly fitting garments such as only a first class tailor can turn out.”

Over the years many businesses have come and gone. In 1908 Bryans & Kennedy opened their undertaking and furniture business in the store room where Lemoore Hardware was located. February 1912 a 23 room lodging house, called the Palace Lodging House, was built on the upper story with Mrs. Fannie Ingram leasing. The lodging house would change hands many time over the years and eventually be called the Antlers Hotel. June 1912 brought the sale of the liquor store to Johnie Elford of Parlier. At the end of 1914 an addition to the west end of the Belknap building was started and the Fan pool hall operated by Miller & Schaffer began using it in mid 1915. In 1943 the building was sold to Mr. Frank Lopez who previously owned the Eagle Cafe.

The Belknap building as it looks today was restored in the early 2000s.