The Cayucos Veterans Memorial Hall is about to undergo a major renovation.
For decades, the iconic structure at the base of the Cayucos Pier was the center of community celebrations, from weddings, festivals, barbecues
The building was deemed structurally unsound in 2016 and then red-tagged by the state fire marshal in 2021. Repairing it will cost an estimated $9.5 million.
What we now know as the vets hall used to be a commercial warehouse.
When most people traveled by ship and most goods were literally shipped to market, the wharfs at Cayucos or Port Harford were a lifeline for San Luis Obispo County farmers to the larger world. The Southern Pacific railroad began to make tracks into the county in 1886.
It is doubtful that any of the original boards from the original 1876 warehouse structure remain. An ocean environment is harsh on nails, even square ones, and termites devour boards.
This unbylined Telegram-Tribune story, published on July 22, 1967, examined an old photo of Cayucos.
Oldest photo recalls old Cayucos Landing
It was plain to James Cass when he started farming in 1867 near the present site of Cayucos, that one of the prime needs of the coast there was transportation. The coastal valleys were filling up with settlers who had butter, grain, potatoes, hogs, wool and other produce that must get to market.
Cass approached Capt. J.M. Ingalls of the Schooner Joseph Woolley, which was carrying passengers and freight between San Francisco and Port Harford, now Port San Luis. Ingalls and his partner, Frederic Metcalf, agreed to go along with Cass in attempting to establish an anchorage in Estero Bay.
So Cayucos was born.
Sam Borradori, himself a native of Cayucos, believes that the accompanying picture from his files, is the oldest photograph in existence of Cayucos Landing, as it was first called.
One of the small buildings was moved to the site in 1869 and the other two were built as shipping operations grew. During the first few years, cargo was taken to and from the schooners in surf boats. The hoist at the end of the pier can be seen above the first building.
As the harbor prospered however, the wharf was extended out 940 feet in 1875 and surf boats were no longer needed as the little coastwise ships could tie up alongside the pier.
In 1876 another warehouse was added, a structure which has now been converted into the Veterans Memorial Building.
Lumber was a principal import, as the picture indicates.
Just behind the lumber in the center of the picture there also appears to be a large consignment of beer kegs.
Cayucos Chamber of Commerce decided that the arrival of Capt. James Cass was really the birthday of the community, so the Cayucos Centennial is being observed this year. The shipping which once nurtured the harbor has long since disappeared in the wake of history, but it has been replaced manyfold by the fishermen, tourists, sunbathers and summer residents from Fresno.