I’ve been diving into looking for historical information on what will be our bookstore. One of the things that struck me most was that, from the outside, the space looks small. But, once you get inside, you see how long and narrow it is. And there are three floors: first, second, and scary basement. We’re talking horror movie scary. The first time we went down there, my husband accidentally turned what few lights we turned on at the top of the stairs off — as I was mid-stairway. There’s literally like only two functioning lights in the whole basement. We found an abandoned Barbie doll next to this room that had cage wire around it.


When one of our employees yelled, “Hey, there’s a catacomb underneath the Crest over here!” that was all I needed to hear to say “I’m outta here!”

I eventually channeled my brave and went back down to the scary basement with a flashlight (and a contractor). That’s when we discovered what looks to have been the original main entrance to the building. We do know that Sacramento waterfront buildings were raised in 1864. What we also know is that there is an elevator lift that went down to what used to be the (original) basement. It’s been mostly filled in with concrete under the lift. I took this photo of the original bricks to the left of the building (on the Sharif Jewelers side).


I’ll have to take a photo of the elevator lift when we have more light down there. We also found an old boiler and thermostat.

A couple people sent me really neat historical photos, like this one from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of 1895. Our building (1011) would be in part of the space between the building on the left and the stables (the Crest is where the stables were) on the right.

And this photo that was taken in 1949. (Photo from Portuguese Historical & Cultural Society collection.)

What was interesting for me to find out is that Levinson’s books was actually next door to the Crest. They must have moved their entire building over to where it is now on 10th Street, which created the courtyard that is next to the Crest now (entrance to Crest Cafe and Empress). What’s interesting is that the Crest will now have been flanked by two bookstores on either side of it.

The folks in the Sacramento History Facebook page were kind enough to send me links and advice on where to go to research more. I absolutely love stuff like this and plan to frame many of the maps and photos I dig up to display in the store.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to save the mosaic file flooring. We do not know, nor assume, that it is the original flooring — it’s old and beautiful, though. We would have loved to save it, but it’s simply too damaged. We will, however, save a large square of it and put plexiglass on top of it for people to see.

So, that’s our history lesson for the day. I’m looking forward to uncovering more facts and bringing back the Art Deco era into our space again. I’ll write more about what we’re doing in another blog post. Lots of fun stuff!

Tomorrow is demo day!