703 - 707 First Avenue - Home of the Father of San Mateo

Raziel Ungar

December 4th, 0001 - 1 min read
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In 1862, before the railroad even came to San Mateo, James Byrnes, who had established a store and stage shop, bought up 10 lots between 2nd and 4th Avenues and between B and the tracks for $1200.  Byrnes was known as “The Father of San Mateo,” for being the first to resell city lots there, and he used his cloud to boost their value.  He pushed for a road linking San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, which was called Spanishtown at the time.

He established a number of businesses, including a brickyard and warehouse, but his best-know enterprise was the Union saloon, which he operated with county politician J.P Ames.  Byrnes eventually bought Ames out, and the place became known as the Railroad House, with a restaurant managed by Tom Hicks, probably the first African American to take up residence in the village.  In 1880 the Railroad House burned down.  Byrnes replaced it with a brick building he called the Union Hotel, which still stands on Third Avenue & Main.

In 1875 Byrnes built a house on several acres near today’s First Avenue & Delaware (703-717 1st Avenue).  The structure still stands, although it has been altered considerably.

 

 

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