Another piece of Cambria history is for sale: The Old Camozzi’s Saloon building, a circa 1922 downtown structure that has for decades housed the town’s last remaining “cowboy bar” and six small upstairs apartments.
The listing price is $1.55 million for the distinctive stone-trimmed wood building at 2262 Main St.
At one point in its history, Cambria had five such bars, all within a two-block area of what is now called East Village, which is where the Camozzi’s building and Mozzi’s bar still are.
The building is renowned for its unique front features, including arched windows and entry, stained glass, the intricately rugged masonry, the large CAMOZZI 1922 legend embedded near the roofline and the arched plaque between the bar’s front door and the entrance to the upstairs apartments, a Cambria Historical Society commemorative that proclaims “Camozzi’s Bar and Hotel, 1922, Adriano & Rosalia Filipponi Camozzi.”
LLC partners William Newman of Michigan and Kellie Williams of Cambria decided to sell, she said Jan. 4, because “he has a lot of different eggs in different baskets, and he’s moving on …. He’ll even carry a note” on the sale.
Williams owns Kellie & Associates Real Estate, Cambria’s Coldwell Banker brokerage. She co-owned the Mozzi’s bar business in the Camozzi building for a time, but sold in 2013 to current owner and former partner Mitchell Gregory.
Williams’ real estate business and her two young children — Sonny, 3, and Krew, 6 — keep the single mom busy enough, she said. She knows well how 24/7 her current commitments are. In fact, Williams said with a chuckle that she sold her portion of the bar ownership “on the day I was giving birth to Krew.”
According to public records, the Newman-Williams LLC bought the closed-down bar business and the building for $500,000 in 2007. It took a year-plus of extensive remodeling before the bar reopened, and other building upgrades continued after that.
Why was it closed?
The building had been in foreclosure several times in 2006 and early 2007, and various structural deficiencies had come to the attention of county and fire officials.
After a prolonged debate between previous building owner Phil Gammon and his bar-owner tenants Dalton and Becky Holladay, the latter closed up shop and left the business and Cambria in 2006. They took the Camozzi’s Saloon business name they had under copyright, plus nearly all the historic mementos that had been on display in the bar for years and decades. (Dalton Holladay opened another bar with the same name in Atascadero; that business is apparently closed now, too.)
The way-back story
Somehow, that stormy parting fits in with some of the previous colorful history of the bar, according to a 1997 report written by historian Dawn Dunlap for the Cambria Historical Society.
She wrote that a general merchandise store was built on the site in the late 1870s, but it burned in the 1889 fire that destroyed much of Cambria’s downtown. It was rebuilt to house the Cambria Meat Market, but sometime between 1905 and 1915, the entrepreneur figured out the best use of the building would be as a saloon with tables where people could play cards.
In 1922, owner Adriano Camozzi had that building demolished and paid $15,000 for a contractor to build a two-story stucco hotel/card parlor/pool hall/barbershop complex. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Camozzis removed four of the six pool tables, put in a long bar and a small kitchen. It remained under Camozzi-family ownership until 1965, when Rosie Camozzi sold it to Thomas Murray, the first of several people who would own the building and/or the bar from then to now, including Roger Easterday, Bill Larson, Cindy Kennedy, Dammon, Holladay, Williams, Newman and Gregory.
As Dunlap wrote, ““… today, on a Saturday night, if the right band is playing, an observer could almost squint and imagine that the scene is right out of the early 1900s” with a former owner of the saloon “leaning against the bar building, watching the people stride by on Main Street.”