George Henley and Sespe Brownstone
In the late 19th century and early 20th century brownstone was prized for buildings and monuments. The only commercial brownstone quarry west of the Mississippi was in the Sespe. George Henley’s father, Philip, owned a brownstone quarry in Patterson, New Jersey. George headed west looking for potential quarry sites. He heard of a possible brownstone site on the Little Sespe, but it was not of the quality needed for building materials.
In 1887, he came to Fillmore and took out a 150 acre mineral claim in Sespe Canyon and began quarrying. The large stone slabs were hauled by horse and wagon down what is now Grand Avenue to a railroad landing known as “Brownstone”. From there the stone was shipped throughout the western United States. Mr. Henley might have eventually made a fortune from the quarry but for the growing use of Portland cement which supplanted stone in construction. Even his dream home which was begun in 1919 was never completed, primarily because Mrs. Henley felt its location far up the Sespe was too remote.
In 1914, the Fillmore State Bank, which had been founded in 1905, built what was considered the finest building in Fillmore on the southeast corner of Central and Santa Clara. The bank building’s first floor was faced with Sespe brownstone and two large columns of the same stone flanked the front doors. In 1935, the building was sold and it’s façade “modernized” with the stone and columns removed. The stones became a wall in Bardsdale, but the columns can still be seen at the Fillmore Historical Museum.