Hornitos, ‘little ovens,’ derived its name from the presence of many old Mexican stone graves or tombs built in the shape of little square bake ovens and set on top of the ground. The town seemed to have been settled by an undesirable element driven out of the adjoining town of Quartzburg, but as the placers at Quartzburg gave out, many of its other citizens came to Hornitos. It became the first and the only incorporated town in Mariposa County.
GHIRARDELLI & CO. RUINS
After selling his trading post on the Stanislaus River, Domenico Ghirardelli trekked to Hornitos in response to the wild tales of rich strikes. Ghirardelli planned to open a general supply store to serve the miners’ needs. After three years of successful operation, Ghirardelli sold his business and moved to San Francisco to devote his full attention to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company he had previously established.
HORNITOS MASONIC LODGE #98
• National Historic Site (05000775)
Built in 1855 by Italian stonemasons who worked in the gold mines of the Mother Lode of the California Gold Rush. It is classified as an unreinforced masonry building because its walls have no metal support. All rock, granite, and brick materials came from local sources. During the first twenty years of its existence, the building served many different purposes, operating as a photography studio, a jewelry and watch store, tailor shop and finally as the Fashion Saloon. It was purchased by Masons in August 1873 for $220, and they renovated it for a Masonic Hall. Sometime in early 1875, the Masonic Hornitos Lodge No. 98 began holding regular meetings in the building and have occupied it ever since.
ST. CATHERINE’S CATHOLIC CHURCH
“Ansel Adam’s White Church”
St. Catherine Church was built during the 1860’s probably in 1865. Before the church was built, priests came from Stockton to say Mass for the people of Hornitos. Priests from Sonora and Mariposa came for Mass after the church was built. In the 1930’s the church was repaired, adding a rock foundation and rock buttresses to make the church firm and solid again.
THE PLAZA ADOBE
This adobe building was built on the plaza, east of the pacific saloon. In 1855, S.G. Brownfield with several partners operated a store here and in 1860 J.A. Mallon becaame the proprietor. A fire in 1868 damaged the store and after another fire in 1873 Geroge Reeb moved his HOrnitos meat market here. Which he operated until his death in 1913. In 1940 the estate of George Reeb sold the building to the George Dillon family and they opened the Plaza Bar. In July 1948 Carlos and Manuela Ortiz moved into the building and opened the Plaza Cafe and Bar. They purchased the adobe from Zora Womack in 1972. Their son Richie Ortiz continues to operate the Plaza Bar. The existing back bar came around the horn to San Francisco in 1852 and was previously used in Virginia City and Merced.