Recently I had the pleasure of taking one of the Underground Tours of Old Sacramento. One thing you learn is there aren't maze-like catacombs running under the streets. The spaces created by elevating the old buildings are more like basements. That's because the structures were raised individually by each owner.
Now the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation has added a new site to the archaeological tour. It's the Hall, Luhrs & Co. building, which operated as a grocery store from 1885-1908, and was known to be one of two bordellos in the district. Unlike other buildings that were raised, its owner simply converted the first floor into a basement.
The Underground Tours offer participants a chance to walk on original foundations and examine 19th century construction and artifacts up close.
What: Old Sacramento Underground Tours
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Continuing thru November 27, 2011 (advance online tickets available now). Departing every half hour 10:30-3 p.m. Thursdays thru Sundays (thru August). Check website for updated tour times September thru November
Cost: $15 for adults; $12 for HOSF members; $10 for children
For more info: 916-808-7059 or www.historicoldsac.org
PHOTO CREDIT: Hall Luhrs & Co. Wholesale Grocers. Photo by Rojer.
UPDATE (July 18):
Heather Downey, a writer/researcher who has worked on the Underground Tour, kindly emailed with some clarifications regarding the Hall, Luhrs building:
There were more than two bordellos in Sacramento during the Gold Rush...many more! There just happened to be two on the site of the Hall-Luhrs Building, but not in that particular building. That 1880s structure was erected atop 4 separate lots at the original level of the city which existed between 1850 and 1884, two of which were at one time brothels.
Since Hall-Luhrs wasn't constructed until 1884, well after the street-raising was complete, there was no way its owners could have opted out of raising it to the new street level. Instead, we suspect that those buildings that used to be there were left at their original level instead of being raised. What guests see when they go under the Hall-Luhrs Building is the evidence of these long-gone structures that date from the Gold Rush.