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LeBARON: Mead Clark joins Santa Rosa's century club

  • The original Mead Clark Lumber Company location at Third Street and the railroad tracks, circa 1920.

It's good practice for a town to take stock of its past every so often. Maybe even offer, in the vernacular of the day, “high-fives” to the pillars of the community.

In a time when old established — yea, venerated — businesses are too often lost (think of sorely-missed Traverso's and dear, departed Rosenberg's); a time when the business of business has become a political issue, it is comforting to know that there still are pillars out there, holding up their ends of the business community.

This is the year we tip our hat — a hard hat, I would think — to Mead Clark Lumber Company, which has joined a select group of Santa Rosa businesses that have lasted for 100 years or more.

There are four others in this group — Daniels' Chapel of the Roses (1875 — the name has changed twice but the business lives on); E.R. Sawyer Jewelers (1879), Imwalle Gardens (1886) and Pedersen's Furniture (1892).

Both Imwalle's and Pedersen's have been in the same family all those generations. Corrick's will join that elite “same family” group when the business turns 100 in 2015.

(If you know of others who are in this group, don't hesitate to let me know I missed them. Journalism is nothing if not a learning experience.)

Meanwhile, back to the business at hand. When Mead Clark transplanted his lumber business from Iowa to Santa Rosa in 1912, having tested the California prospects first in Dinuba, near Fresno, he found himself in a lumber dealer's wonderland of redwood and fir. He built a Mission-style building at Third Street and the railroad tracks, a design he once described as “the Taj Mahal of lumber yards.”

Clark was an old-school businessman. He had two rules that were not to be broken. The “inside” staff was to turn out in three-piece suits and ties with “no garlic on your breath.”

Clark and his wife, Dora, built themselves a fine home on Melita Road just east of the intersection we still call Lawson's Corners. An Iowa cousin, Duane Bennett, came to join the company. By the 1930s, Clark had shown considerable business acumen and achieved success. But he and Dora had no children.

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