The Levy Brothers Built a Small Empire of General Stores on the Coastside (1)

I wrote this in 1977.

Before help arrived to extinguish the blaze, a mass of flames engulfed Kelly and Mattingly’s General Store in Half Moon Bay. As the fire spread to include M.E. Joyce’s nearby saloon, eyewitnesses predicted certain doom for the town’s leading mercantile.

Volunteers formed bucket brigades and when the fire finally burned itself out, the owners faced the charred remains of a once thriving enterprise.

That day, Charles E. Kelly [described by some as a ‘power’ in local politics] and Richard L. Matingly chose to rebuild an even more impressive structure. But within a year the pair revealed plans to sell out.

Through friends, Ferdinand and Joseph Levy, two young brothers who recently sailed to California from France, learned that the store was for sale. The Levy brothers, anxious to start business in a small town, traveled to Half Moon Bay in 1872. After thoroughly inspecting the premises, they bought Kelly and Mattingly’s business, including their stock of merchandise and a lease on the lower level of the 25-foot-wide building. The newly rebuilt store also housed Wells Fargo Express, the post office and telegraph services [lately installed from San Mateo to Half Moon Bay to Pescadero.]

At the corner of Purissima and Kelly, the popular Levy brothers launched the first of many business ventures on the Coastside.

(Next: Part 2)

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