Historic Downtown Independence

This small town, the Inyo County seat, includes a number of historic homes and buildings in close proximity.

The Edwards House, just behind the Post Office on Market Street, is the county's oldest structure, and was built by one of the town's founders, Thomas Edwards, in 1863.

Further up Market Street is the home of early 20th Century author/feminist/ecologist Mary Austin, which is a state historic landmark. Austin wrote her most acclaimed and successful book, "Land of Little Rain," while residing in her Independence home. She moved to "the brown house" in 1893, and left in the early 1900s for the Carmel Artists Colony and then Santa Fe.

The Pioneer Memorial Methodist Church has been the town's spiritual "rock" for more than a century, and is located on Washington Street.

The Putnam Stone Cabin was also located in this general vicinity, along the banks of what is now Independence Creek. Charles Putnam built the structure in 1861 and it served as a store, home, hospital and fort for the town's early settlers. Although the cabin was torn down in 1876, a state historic marker on Edwards Street (yes, that Edwards) is a permanent reminder of the first permanent building in town.

Across the street from the cabin monument is the imposing, Greek Revival County Courthouse, built in 1923, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It continues to serve as a working county courthouse.

A few blocks north is a two-story Victorian home named the Commander's House, because it was built in the same style as the home of the commander of Fort Independence, which was abandoned in 1887. The Commander's House appeared in town soon after, and remains as another reminder of the first settlers and soldiers who called Independence home.


Latitude: 36.802202 Longitude: -118.2001448 Elevation: 3934 ft

Time Period Represented

1860 to 1900

Hours Open

None of the homes are open to the public.


I have been driving through Independence since I was a little girl, I am now 62 and the Commander's house always says "Closed." Is it ever open?

Carol Livingston, 8/15/2016

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