The first Highland Livery building was erected in 1897 by Rufus Longmire, a native of Tennessee, who came to California about 1884. Rufus took advantage of the many opportunities to prosper, of which his brother had told him, investing in a nursery and citrus business, ownership of stores on the east side of Palm Avenue, which he rented and where his son Jimmy had a barber shop.
He built the Livery and Feed for his son Charles in 1897. Proprietors were “Longmire and Jones.” (I’m not sure which Jones.) The establishment was on the east side of Palm Avenue between Main Street and Pacific Avenue.
The Highland Livery was an important addition to the little village. Those who rode horses into town for the day could stable them at the livery where they could also have food and water. (Think parking garage.) For shorter stays, a horse could be tethered to the hitching rings we can still see in the sidewalks. Folks arriving on the train could hire a horse or horse and buggy. The town doctor kept his horse and buggy at the ready in the livery stable.
In 1904 there was a devastating fire which burned the year-old library, the Gleason Hotel and the Highland Domestic Water Company office. These buildings were on the south side of East Main Street across from the livery.
In light of this fire, Charles began construction on a brick building in November of 1904. This building was on Pacific Avenue between Palm Avenue and Center Street, just west of his “cottage.” The old livery was razed.
At that time, fire alarms were sounded by the ringing of the church bell. The church, however, was usually locked, making it difficult to ring the bell if needed. To resolved this issue, a bell was placed on top of the Highland Livery which was open night and day. The bell was moved to “a more advantageous location” in 1932 and replaced with a siren in 1934. The bell was stored away until it was scrapped in 1942 for the war effort.
Charles Longmire ran the stage line to Fredalba and in 1905 had the contract to carry the mail. The stage line was very successful, and in 1906 he purchased the Fredalba stage from Louis Salsedo which included “goodwill, the mail contract, six horses and a stage,” for $2,700. The stage, in addition to carrying passengers and mail, was on occasion used as an ambulance, bringing injured mill workers from Brookings to the doctor in Highland or the hospital in San Bernardino.
In 1906, Charles Longmire ran for Highland Constable and in 1907, sold the lots including his home and business to his father, Rufus Longmire, and the livery business to A.A. “Mack” Johnson, “an experienced liveryman.” Longmire also purchased a 10-acre orange grove at Palm Avenue and Base Line from J.H. Pattee, planning to devote his time to his new acquisition.
Next week: More about the Highland Livery