Tapestri's Site History: Federick Cox, Cattleman

Many people have asked us, "What was here before?" You mean before this beautiful development was born? Why, we had to hit the books to answer that one.

Located in Midtown Sacramento's Poverty Ridge neighborhood, the property at 20th and T Street (where Tapestri Square is now located) has a rich local history. Its original owner, Frederick Cox, was a prominent businessman and politician, and his residence at 2020 T Street was one of Sacramento's early mansions. The story of how Cox came to own this property is a wonderful narrative of his ingenuity and savvy that made Sacramento a great city.

Cox was born in England in 1828. His family immigrated to New York in 1846, where they stayed a scant six months before moving on to Wisconsin. It wasn't until 1850, two years into the Gold Rush, that Frederick made his way west to California. It wasn't gold that Cox was pursuing, however; he recognized that the real opportunity was in supplying the needs of miners and took a position in a meat market. He was paid $250 a month, an incredibly high salary for a young man in the 1850s. 

Cox eventually bought and then sold the meat market and went into business in Nevada with a man named Frakes.  Never one to miss an opportunity, Cox and his partner made a hefty profit by buying the spent stock of pioneers arriving from the east, fattening the trail-worn animals, then re-selling them in California for top dollar.

In 1851, Cox returned to the meat market business, eventually operating multiple stores and taking on a partner, Crawford Clarke, who would remain a business partner and good friend until Cox's death.  In addition to their meat markets, Clarke and Cox entered the cattle trade and relocated to the Sacramento Valley, establishing the Spanish Ranch in Sutter County. 

The two partners, along with their wives and families, settled in Sacramento in 1860: Clarke at 10th and H Streets, and Cox on eight square blocks west of 21st Street, with a three-story (yep, Cox came up with it first!), 5400 square foot mansion located at 2020 T Street.  Cox and Clarke spent the next two decades acquiring large tracts of grazing land to support their expanding cattle business, including extensive holdings in Sutter, Yuba, Tulare, Kern and San Luis Obispo counties, as well as in Lake County in Oregon.

In the 1880s, the Democratic Party invited Cox to run for the office of State Senator.  He was elected and served two terms and two special sessions called by the Governor.  Eventually tiring of political life, Cox declined to run for a third term and instead joined a commission of "Freeholders" who were charged with drafting a new charter for the City of Sacramento.  In 1894, he became president of the California State Bank, a bank that he, Clarke, and a group of wealthy Sacramentans had established in 1881.  He served in that capacity until his death in 1906.

The Cox name was carried on by two daughters, Jennie and Freda, the only two of his five children to survive until adulthood.  Jennie married George Peltier, a prominent banker, and Freda married John Short, a native of England and something of an entrepreneur.  Freda and John eventually built a 6200 square-foot house at 2026 T Street, right next to her parents' mansion. 

After her mother's death in 1928, Freda was no longer able to maintain the 2020 T Street home and eventually had it torn down.  After the deaths of Freda (in 1947) and John (in 1954), their 2026 T Street house was demolished to make way for an office building, which eventually gave way to the development that is now Tapestri Square.

One piece of this historical imprint remains - on the corner of 21st and T there is a concrete wall, which is said to be a portion of the retaining wall built around Freda and John Short’s home, dating all the way back to 1911. As big history buffs (obviously), we left this intact, and celebrate the old and the new living together, much like our surrounding neighborhood.

Fed Cox Portrait

Federick Cox: Cattleman

Cox Ranch

The Cox Ranch

Cox House

The home of Frederick and Jennie Cox, 21st and T Streets

 

Our little piece of history located on the corner of 21st and T Streets