Abbe Company Mercantile

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San Juan’s first brick building was constructed as a general merchandise store by Felipe Gardella about 1860, and survived the 1867 fire that burned much of the block.¬†There was a small house on Polk Street behind the building where the Gardella family lived. In the 1920s that house was moved to its current location at the corner of Franklin and Second Streets.

Frank, George, and Fred Abbe owned and operated a general merchandise store in this building that was founded in 1887 and was run for nearly half a century. Recognized as the oldest general merchandise store in San Benito County, the Abbe Company was first founded by Frank B. Abbe and Antoine Taix, Sr., and was operated under the firm name of the Taix and Abbe Store. In 1890, Fred Abbe bought Mr. Taix’s share and the firm was run under the name of the Abbe Bros. until 1893 when George E. Abbe bought into the firm.

Reno and Rose Cornaggia moved the San Juan Bakery here in 1938 from the building across the street at 322 Third and conducted substantial rehabilitation to the building. The old iron doors that had adorned the front of the store were removed, the front facade was changed, new hardwood flooring and a new gas oven were installed.

The Cornaggia family sold the business to John Paradis, and for a number of years the bakery was known as the Paradis San Juan Bakery. The building is still owned by the Cornaggia family and the San Juan Bakery continues to be operated here.