The Grand Auction

As printed in the San Luis Obispo Daily Republic Newspaper on April 22, 1889

“The new town of Santa Margarita was introduced to the world on Saturday last under the most flattering prospects. Santa Margarita is one of the prettiest of our pretty Spanish names, and certainly is a lucky one, for all the good fortune falls upon that locality. Everybody knows that Santa Margarita is a lovely valley and it become very popular to say so, therefore when the opportunity was offered under liberal advertising it was lauded to the skies and everybody wanted to see the famous spots..…..

Ostensibly, the day was to be devoted to the sale of the lots in the town of Santa Margarita. Although that was a small affair compared with the enjoyment of the day and the pleasures of the barbecue and picnic, it was a historical and important affair."

"The property, it is known, was given by Gen. P.W. Murphy and his brothers to the Pacific Improvement Co., for the purposes of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The site was surveyed into streets, alleys, blocks and lots, the lots being 25 feet wide and 150 feet in length, and thirty-two lots to a block. The principal (sic) streets running parallel with the railroad are 100 feet in width and cross streets 75 feet
The town plat is bisected by the railroad with a wide space for depot grounds embracing two tiers of blocks reserved. On these are the depot building, round house, tank house, warehouse, lumberyard, and several sidetracks. The other buildings of the town are the Southern Pacific Hotel, a handsome two story structure, a saloon, the Times printing office and the post office. The site is in a fertile meadow chiefly as level as a floor, but on the south the land slightly rises, making very pleasant building lots. On all sides are very large white oak trees and through the tract flows the Santa Margarita creek.

The sale of these lots was placed in the hands of the real estate firm of Briggs, Fergusson & Co., of San Francisco, and on this occasion Mr. Fergusson acted as auctioneer.

Mr. Fergusson made a pleasant speech at the opening, saying that General Murphy proposed soon to divide and sell some ten thousand acres of the upper part of the ranch, and that probably this new town would be the end of a division with machine shops, etc., of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The sales would be for one quarter cash, and the balances in six, twelve and eighteen moths at 10 percent per annum interest, or a deduction of 5 percent upon cash payments. The first lot put up was a corner opposite the depot and opposite the hotel lots, which had been selected and built upon.

This lot after some bidding was sold to P.F. Ready, of San Luis for $525. The adjoining lot was sold for $300. Nearly four blocks were sold during the day, bringing an aggregate of about $21,000 as we were told by Mr. Fergusson.

Quite a number of the purchasers paid in full for their lots, showing their earnestness of purpose. The sale closed shortly after 4 p.m. The prices obtained were satisfactory to the sellers, but it was expected to dispose of more lots. The price however, is fixed from $100 to $500 and the Pacific Improvement Co declare they will stand by their customers and maintain the rates at which they purchased. The remainder of the lots will be sold at private sale as people apply.

Before the sale was concluded many were leaving, and the road from Santa Margarita to San Luis was almost a continual line of teams of all classes of conveyances and rigs, the four-in-hand and the family carriage, the omnibus, buggy and cart, carrying in all fully one thousand people.

Perhaps a thousand others had gathered from the surrounding country and along the Salinas valley, and four or five hundred had come from San Francisco. Good order prevailed and no accidents happened.

We had the honor of an invitation to join Mr. Dallidet and family, who under a broad oak spread an elaborate lunch of great variety assisted by a long stick of barbecue from the great roast where the mass was assembled.

Under trees over a large area were many other parties, all making a day long to be remembered”.


This article was printed in the San Luis Obispo Daily Republic Newspaper on April 22, 1889 and reprinted in the Telegram-Tribune April 22, 1989 (compiled by Wilmar Tognazzini)