Bucket of Blood

The property at the northwest corner of Bridge and Center Streets has a long and colorful history. The existing structure is the second building to be built on the site.

The first business to occupy this site was a paint store established in 1868 by James Gooch. Sometime later, Dr. Russell Parkhurst, who lived in the “Blue House” next door, practiced medicine there until he relocated his practice in 1879. At this time, Oliver McFadden and Ritner Dodson returned the building to being a paint store along with other decorative materials. The store was destroyed in the great fire of 1889 when, early in the morning of October 1, virtually all of Cambria’s business section burned.

The "Bucket of Blood Saloon" building

After the fire, John McCain built the present structure around 1893 or 1894 and opened a saloon there. In 1902, the building was purchased by William Phillips who leased it to John Eubanks who conducted a blacksmith business there for at least 12 years. Phillips then leased the facility to Clyde Meacham who used the building to publish The Cambria Courier whose first edition appeared on June 6, 1916. Meacham’s son, Wilfred, was named after Wilfred Lyons. Although he had published several newspapers prior to this, the newspaper lasted less than two years and The Cambria Courier published its last edition on January 4, 1918 leaving Cambria without a newspaper until The Cambrian was founded by Marcus Waltz in 1931.

In 1918 the property was purchased by James and William Bianchini, sons of Eugenio Bianchini who bought it from his sons in 1922. At one point it was used to house the Bank of Cambria while the brick building on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets was being built. By the early 1930s a restaurant had been opened in the leased building by James Stewart and his wife, Alberta Dodson, daughter of Ritner Dodson.

Shortly after World War II, the restaurant got new owners, Rip Rohrberg and William Riley, who called it Rip and Riley’s. Every Saturday night they held a dance there complete with ladies of the evening, fist fights and other forms of entertainment. It was these events that caused Cambrians to start calling the place The Bucket of Blood Saloon, a name which persists to this day even though Rip and Riley’s lasted only a few years.

From the late 1940s until 1960, the building was leased by renowned water color artist Phil Paradise who used it for his studio. The next occupant was Mr. Tysinger who made furniture and cabinets there. Sometime in the mid 1980s, Wood Specialties Shop was opened in the building by Frank Broad who had a furniture refinishing business there until 1994.

The building is currently owned by Tom Gerst and Jim Evans, grandson of ranching pioneer Thomas Evans. They acquired a majority interest in the property through three purchases between 1965 and 1969 although the remaining interest was divided between many descendants of Eugenio Bianchini and others. In 1997 Gerst and Evans filed a “Complaint for Partition” suit against all of the other owners. The suit was settled in 1999 and Gerst and Evans became the sole owners of the property. It is leased to Steve Crimmel who has had his Painted Sky Recording Studio there for more than ten years.

7 Responses to “Bucket of Blood”

  1. B&J says:

    Hi Taylor:

    We don’t have Jim’s contact info but we run into him every week or two. He’s completely rebuilt the old Bucket of Blood building and is opening his antique store there. In fact, it may already be open. We go past there nearly every day so, next time we see him, we’ll ask for his phone number. We doubt if he has email.

    Anyway, we’ll let you know how to reach him in a few days (or possibly weeks!).


  2. How do I get hold of Jim Evans? He’s a friend of mine from a while back. Kathe Tanner gave me a link to him, but I’ve misplaced it.



  3. B&J says:


    We don’t recognize the name Oliver Perry McFadden so we can’t help you directly. If he were our g-g-grandfather, we would search the records at the San Luis Obispo County Recorder’s Office (http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/clerk.htm). They have deeds going back to 1851 and they can be accessed by grantor or grantee. If you can find McFadden’s deed, there will be some description of the property he bought or sold. This might help you but, in those days, property descriptions in deeds were a little vague so you might have to resort to range and section maps or some other source to clearly identify the location of the property.

    Since you’re in Watsonville, we don’t know if a visit to the recorder’s office is practical. If it’s not, you might try calling them. We have always found them to be very helpful and cooperative. Hope this helps.


  4. Paul Furlong says:

    p.s. OP McFadden is my g-g-grandfather. Through is son Yancey who was Sheriff in San Luis Obispo for a time…

  5. Paul Furlong says:

    I am trying to determine which house on Santa Rosa Creek Road was the OP (Oliver Perry) McFadden ranch from the late 1860’s through the 1880’s (according to my research) Any suggestions on how to further research this? The house currently owned by Oly Fiscalini is the house I believe but Oly insists it is not… any help would be appreciated.

    Paul Furlong

  6. B&J says:


    We hadn’t heard that rumor but the building doesn’t seem large enough to house a roller rink.


  7. Celeste goyer says:

    So much for the rumor that the building was once an indoor roller skating rink…

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