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Auburn's "City Hall" once housed businesses

A look back in time
By: Placer County Museums
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The building in the center of this photograph was Auburn?s New City Hall and it was built in 1895. It stood in what is now Old Town Auburn where Bootleggers Restaurant is today. In fact, the walls of the restaurant are the old walls of New City Hall. This photograph was probably taken during a Fourth of July celebration. Even though it was called a City Hall, it wasn?t owned by the local government, nor were there official offices inside. Instead, there were shops and stores such as Crowell and Safford?s Furniture and Undertakers and R.J. Hancock?s Hardware Store. There was also an auditorium. Auburn businessman E.C. Snowden bought the building in 1895 (he also owned the white house on the hill above Old Town Auburn). The building stood for a mere 10 years until it was consumed by fire in July of 1905. The fire originated in the furniture store where paints and stains viciously fueled the flames. According to an article in the July 23, 1905 San Francisco Call: It was but a few minutes before the entire City Hall building was on fire inside. The brick walls melted like putty. Within 15 minutes, the steeple collapsed. The fire destroyed New City Hall, the Empire Hotel, Crosby?s Livery Stable, and much of the interior of the American Hotel. Once the fire, which threatened the entire town, got into the American Hotel, its walls stood firm and kept the fire from spreading elsewhere. The American Hotel was viewed as the savior of Auburn.