Step Back in Time in Downtown Weaverville
By Jon Lewis
Small Town CharmMarch 2015
Story and photos by Jon Lewis
Weaverville has such a classic small-town look and feel, a visitor couldn't be faulted for wondering if a Hollywood set designer had just come through in preparation for a film set in the 1800s.
All the elements are in place: old brick buildings, complete with historical markers; quaint shops and galleries; inviting saloons that serve as portals to the past and the olden days of gold-mining glory; and comfortable restaurants serving up 21st century fare with 19th century amenities.
Yet Weaverville has a few twists to separate it from other historic downtowns that dot the North State. A pair of spiral staircases adds extra charm to Main Street; the iron banisters were necessary since the upper floor of the two-story buildings had separate owners.
The historic downtown district also is home to the Weaverville Joss House, a 140-year-old, still active Chinese Taoist temple that’s also a state park. The Joss House provides a visible link to Weaverville’s past when more than 2,000 Chinese lived there during the height of the gold rush.
As the Trinity County seat, Weaverville is home to the second oldest courthouse in California. Th e Hocker Building, built in 1856 as a store and hotel, now houses the Trinity County Superior Court and the Board of Supervisors chambers.
Across the street is an oldfashioned bandstand that was built in 1901 and continues to serve as the focal point of community events.
Wayne Agner, president of the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce and editor of the weekly Trinity Journal, likes Weaverville both for the things it offers and the things it doesn’t. “There’s a nice mix of shops, offices, restaurants and bars, art galleries all within easy walking distance. Within a one- or two-block area, there is a lot you can do,” he says.
Conversely, “if you want to get unplugged, we’re a perfect place to do
it. There’s plenty of cell reception, but if you want to get away from it all, just duck behind another mountain and you’ll lose it.
“It’s a little slower-paced and less hectic. You can get up here, enjoy yourself, have a nice long lunch, sit by the river, sit by the lake or do whatever you want to do. It’s a real nice getaway,” Agner says.
Olson Stoneware, one of the stalwarts of downtown Weaverville and situated in the picturesque Buck & Cole Building (1856), is a great getaway target. It’s filled with handmade, hand-fired ceramics by Greg Olson, a potter who brought his artistic passion to Trinity County in 1975 and opened his first studio in 1982 behind the Highland Art Center.
Olson and his wife, Susie, purchased their current studio and shop in 1984 and have been a Main Street fixture ever since. “We just love our building and the fact it was built 160 years ago,” says Olson, 63. Susie Olson manages the retail operation while Olson focuses on pots and creating his distinctive stoneware.
“We just enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area, the small-town nature and the history of the area— and what a great place to raise our two daughters,” Olson says. “We feel having our shop in that area, kind of the woodsy nature theme in our shop, coincides with the hiking, camping, fishing and boating … the old-time feel and flavor of it.”
Like many other North State communities, the California gold rush played a huge role in the development of Weaverville. Prospectors and miners by the hundreds poured into the town following the discovery of gold in 1849.
Within five years, permanent “fireproof ” brick buildings and framed homes had replaced the itinerant tent city and Weaverville emerged as a thriving town on the flanks of the majestic Trinity Alps.
The Jake Jackson Museum, also on Main Street, is a great spot to study up on Weaverville’s history.
For more info: Trinity County Chamber of Commerce
(800) 487-4648 or (530) 623-6101