Lulu Carpenter’s: The Sign of the Seamstress

Compass Rose/Lulu Carpenters, 1545 Pacific Avenue, 1866, Italianate: Architect: Unknown; remodelled 1977. Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Historical Commission.

Compass Rose and Lulu Carpenter’s, 1545 Pacific Avenue, 1866, Italianate: Architect: Unknown. Remodeled 1977. Photo: Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Historical Commission

Named for a local business owner and seamstress from the early 20th century, Lulu Carpenter’s, is the oldest building on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. Built in 1866, it has also been known as the Compass Rose Building because of the rose-shaped compass that used to be embedded in the adjacent sidewalk.

The building that houses today's Lulu Carpenter’s as it was circa 1892. Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

The building that houses today’s Lulu Carpenter’s as it was circa 1892. Photo: Courtesy of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

In the 1920s and 1930s, Mrs. Lulu Carpenter, a local dress designer, operated “Lulu Carpenter’s Dress Shoppe” in the building. Her shop featured dresses, sweaters, suits, and hats made from patterns that she designed.

The building burned in 1936, and it seemed that all traces of her shop were consumed in the fire. It wasn’t until 1977, during renovation for a new bar, that one relic of the dress shop came to light. Beneath the stucco and plywood face of the building, Lulu Carpenter’s storefront sign was found, preserved. The new bar, also called Lulu Carpenter’s, displayed the original sign behind the bar until the business was sold in 1986. The sign was given to the last remaining descendant of Lulu Carpenter.

After the bar closed, the building served as a stockbroker’s office and an art house until the structure was seriously damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake .

Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, California. The aftermath of the Loma Prieta Earthquake,1989. Photo: C. E. Meyer, U.S. Geological Survey

Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, California. The aftermath of the Loma Prieta Earthquake,1989. Photo: C. E. Meyer, U.S. Geological Survey

Read the rest of the story to learn how Lulu Carpenter’s arose from the rubble and find out what happened to the compass rose, at mobileranger.com.

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Julia Gaudinski


One comment on “Lulu Carpenter’s: The Sign of the Seamstress


  1. Some of the facts are incorrect-to many to mention-if you are going to write a story check the facts- Lu-Aunt Lu’s nice


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