Located in the heart of the California Gold Country and right on the 49'er Gold Rush Trail is an excellant example of a perfectly preserved General Store from the mid 1800's. The picturesque Monteverde Store is a wonderful historical location and gives you a perfect glimpse into how things were in the wild west. This particular building, with all its history and significance to the people of Sutter Creek and their ancestors, is definately a must see while in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.
Don't forget to visit the small office next door and see the history of Sutter Creek hand painted on the walls, by local artist Rand Hugget. This amazing mural, that covers the entire room, will walk you through the progression of how Sutter Creek came to be.
The Monteverde Store was opened by John Monteverde and his son John, as a country store in 1896 and still displays all paraphernalia of the past on its shelves. Dry goods, hardware, bulk products, apparel, patterns, even penny candy were on hand for local shoppers. Well preserved, it is now a museum.
Over its counters and from the shed (now the home of the Sutter Creek Visitors Center Office), the Monteverde family sold all manner and description of merchandise. Their emporium also served as a meeting place for the housewives of the period. The existing old ledgers, written in spidery script, attest to the good and bad times that befell the citizens of Sutter Creek.
The store was pretty much as you see it today. Dry goods on the west wall and hardware in the back behind the original cast iron pot belly stove. Groceries were on the east wall and the elevated office was in the rear. Each sale was entered into the day book, totals made at the end of the month, and John bill handed to the customer.
Over the years, the Monteverde store changed little from its early days. Brown paper bags and rolls of wrapping paper are still in place. An intricately carved and highly polished oak icebox is built into one wall, flanked by shelves stocked with clothing, books of wallpaper samples, cartons of hosiery and sewing goods. Across the room are the shelves of food. Some containers are still full and we don't exactly know what is in the mason jars.
About the Monteverde Family:
John Monteverde, Sr. was a native of Genoa, Italy who came to America in 1860. After arriving in San Francisco, he decided to cast his lot in the Mother Lode country and came to Sutter Creek in 1861. He became an American citizen on August 25, 1872.
He worked in the gold mines for many years and later became a stone mason. Mr. Monteverde built many of the stone and cement walks around homes and on Main Street in Sutter Creek. John (unknown - 1918) and Rosa (1851-1943) had seven children: four boys: John (1873-1959) , James (Unknown - 1920), Joseph and Louis (1882-1961), and three girls: Mary (1879- 1972), Kathryn "Kate" (1885-1956), and Rose (1889-1978). The children were born and grew up in Sutter Creek. They graduated from Sutter Creek Grammer School, which is a National Historical landmark. There were no high schools in Amador County at that time.
After their father died on August 19, 1918, and due to her mother's failing health, operating the store fell to Mary. Meanwhile, Rose worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for the Central Eureka Mine until it closed in 1954.
After the Eureka mine closed, Rose began helping Mary run the family business. The sisters closed the store on October 27,1971. They put a hand-written sign in the window that stated "This store will be closed for a few days." This sign remained in the store window for over twenty years. After Mary's death on August 23, 1972, Rose was very despondent and alone. She lived until April 11, 1978. The city kept the store closed for many years before reopening it in 1992 as a museum.
You can still see the original antique items still on the shelves. Preserved forever. Call in advance for a volunteer docent-led exploration of the store and the history of the Monteverde Family.