The first commercial building constructed in the new Fullerton townsite was the small wooden Amerige Brothers' Realty Office (1887), a Fullerton Local Landmark, now located in Amerige Park. It is the only commercial building to survive from this founding era.
From 1900 to 1917, modest brick commercial buildings gradually replaced the initial wood-framed structures in the center of town. Most of the brick buildings had recessed entrances and plain exteriors, although there often was decorative work on cornices and parapets. A good representative example of "brick commercial" or "brick vernacular" style architecture is the Dean Block (1899-1901) at 111-113 N. Harbor Boulevard, the city's oldest commercial building block. Another notable brick commercial building of this period is the Crystal Ice House (1910), now used as a church, at 112 E. Walnut Avenue.
In 1911, newspaper editor Hugh Edgar Johnson constructed a small, single-story brick building at 107 South Harbor Boulevard for his newspaper, the Fullerton News Tribune. From 1944 to 1951, guitar legend Leo Fender leased the building, establishing Fender's Radio Service, where he manufactured his first guitars. For its association with Leo Fender, a long-time resident of Fullerton, the building (now known as the Ellingson Building) has been designated a Fullerton Local Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
From 1918 to 1925, Fullerton experienced new commercial construction with major buildings that largely defined the Central Business District. As the main street, Spadra Road (now Harbor Boulevard) was the focus of much of this construction, but less important industrial and service structures filled the side streets, particularly, W. Santa Fe Avenue. The major commercial buildings constructed during this period include the Spanish Colonial Revival California Hotel (1922), now Villa del Sol, at 305 North Harbor Boulevard; the Beaux Arts inspired Farmers' and Merchants' Bank (1904, redesigned in 1922), now the Landmark Plaza Building, at 122 N. Harbor Boulevard; the Sullivanesque Chapman Building (1923) at 110 E. Wilshire Avenue; and the Italian Renaissance Alician Court Theatre (1925), now the Fox Fullerton Theatre, at 508 N. Harbor Boulevard. As Fullerton prospered in the 1920s, commercial construction began to move further down Harbor Boulevard and outside the city's central core.
Also, during this period less important industrial and service structures filled in the town's side streets. With a less prominent location, these building's façades were kept simple and unpretentious. Among those that still stand today with adaptive reuse include the Ellingson Building (1920) at 119 W. Santa Fe Avenue; the Fullerton Dye Works Building (1922) at 227 W. Santa Fe Avenue; the De Luxe Hotel (1923) at 410-412 S. Harbor Boulevard; the Amerige Block (1925) at 109-123 E. Commonwealth Avenue; the John Reeder Gardiner Building at 125 W. Santa Fe Avenue (ca 1926), now the home of Heroes Bar and Grill; the two-story brick building at 213-215 W. Commonwealth Avenue (1926); the Williams Building (1927) at 112 E. Commonwealth Avenue, listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and the Sanitary Laundry Building (1928) at 221-225 W. Santa Fe Avenue.
Read More about Early 20th Century Commercial Architecture:
Amerige Brothers' Realty Office (1887)
336 W. Commonwealth Avenue
Dean Block (1899-1901)
111-113 N. Harbor Boulevard
Ellingson Building (1920)
119 W. Santa Fe Avenue
Sanitary Laundry Building (1928)
221-225 W. Santa Fe Avenue