The History of Old Sac’s oldest building

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Lady Adams opened in 1852 under The Lady Adams Mercantile Co. | Photo by SACtoday staff

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Through the fire and the flames, the Lady Adams Building carries on.

The Lady Adams Building is the oldest building in the Old Sacramento State Historical State Park surviving fires, floods + years of vacancy. So, what makes this registered California Historical Landmark so dependable?

Brief History of the Lady Adams Building

In 1849, four German immigrants docked their ship — named Lady Adams — near K Street to open a floating mercantile store on the Sacramento River. As any good merchants with marketing moxie, they named their business The Lady Adams Mercantile Co.

After navigating the Sacramento scene for three years, the company decided to drop anchor: They purchased the plot of land that is now 119 K St., and converted it into a wholesale and import house. The German company even used parts of the ship + ballast brick in the process (just hopefully not the poop deck…).

The project was completed in June 1852, costing $29,000 (which inflates to roughly $1.06 million today). It proved to be of sound construction after it was one of the only buildings to survive the Great Fire of 1852 (also known as the Great Conflagration). The landmark was said to have survived because of its heavy brick roofing.

Lady Adams Mercantile Co. filed for bankruptcy in 1861, with the next residents of the building being the firm of Fogus and Coghill. But Lady Adam’s troubles weren’t over yet.

The Great Flood of 1861-62 devastated most of Downtown, but our fair Lady stood its ground + survived the storm. After the streets were raised to prevent the annual flooding, the building itself was raised to its present level in 1865. The firm continued operating from Lady Adams until 1868, leaving the building unoccupied + without maintenance.

Throughout the 1950s, the building was used as a brothel and a flophouse, then left vacant for many years. Even though the building was named California Historical Landmark No. 603 on May 22, 1957, it did not receive the care it needed. Its heavy roofs eventually caved in + collapsed in 1970. The City was quick to restore the structure, and Evangeline’s, the current occupants, have cared for and expanded the space since moving into the historic Howard House — 111 K St. — in 1974.

To read more about Evangeline’s history on K Street, click here.


Evangeline’s took over the entire ground floor of the Howard House + Lady Adams in 1992. | Photo by SACtoday staff

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