Back in 1839 one of the first European settlers to walk at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers was John Sutter. He held a Mexican land grant and soon established Sutter's Fort, a waystation and trading post for pioneers and settlers. Then the gong that was heard around the world was sounded when gold was discovered in 1848 and in just a few short months the Gold Rush was on.
Sacramento quickly started to grow along the banks of the Sacramento river where the steamboats from San Francisco would drop off hopeful gold seekers. Those early days of the new city were challenging when the city was hit with floods, fires, and disease. In 1850 the State's first organized fire department was created of a fire chief and all volunteer brigade known as Engine Company No. 3. In 1853 they moved into a brick building which has since been known over the decades as The Firehouse.
As Sacramento became more modern and grew with each decade, the city moved in farther from the river and "old" Sacramento became run down and neglected. Luckily some forward thinking citizens recognized the historical significance of the area and the buildings. In fact,The Firehouse was the very first of the Old Sacramento buildings to be renovated and reopened, this time as a restaurant and bar owned by Newton Cope. During the 1960s the rest of the Old Sacramento area was revitalized and designated as a Registered National and California Historic Landmark.
Can you spot the old fire pole in the restaurant?
While there are a few U.S. cities that have restaurants that have spanned 100 to 200 years, Sacramento has only a handful that are over 50 years old. The Firehouse is one. It's played an important role in both social and political engagements with many celebrities having dined there over the years. Governor Ronald Reagan held both of his inaugural dinners there and many a political deal has taken place under its roof.
As with many a restaurant that has endured that long, The Firehouse has had its ups and downs. But for the most part it has always been the spot known for traditional fine dining with beautiful decor and linens, impeccable service, and a sophisticated atmosphere. The elegant interior has made it a favorite for proposals and anniversaries while it's beautiful courtyard patio has hosted many weddings and events.
The Firehouse is a restaurant tradition that should endure for decades to come.