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Lompoc Land Company

The Lompoc Land Company office in 1875.

The Lompoc Theatre Project has been hard at work on restoration of the “Heart of the City” that will change the very center of our lovely town.

The full restoration requires a continual effort, and what sometimes gets overlooked is the fact that we are reviving not just one important building, but two.

The second building, next to the theater, could be considered more historically important and is certainly older. The Lompoc Land Office building was built in 1875 and currently rests at the back of the theater in the parking lot. Typically referred to as “The Why? Building,” it’s hard to miss with the original 1905 MJB Coffee Co. advertisement painted on the side in 1910.

Not only is it the oldest commercial building still standing in Lompoc, it was in that very structure that all the first Lompoc plots were laid out, the first streets were named, and where the first parcels were sold.

Originally referred to as “The Office,” it was constructed with redwood and is lined on the inside with lath redwood, probably increasing the reason the building still stands today.

Not only was The Land Office building the groundwork of the creation of Lompoc, but they also donated land to El Camino Elementary School, Artesia School, Maple School, many churches, fraternal organizations, Miguelito Park and Evergreen Cemetery. The Office also funded the Lompoc Record in 1875 and their circulation across California resulted in the onslaught of people moving and purchasing land in the almost-deserted Lompoc Valley, with over 120 new buildings being built within the first year.

Eventually the Land Company went bankrupt due to many disasters and was sold to the Hollister-Debblee Land Co. and later became the harness shop.

When the theater was first opened in 1927, it quickly became apparent there was inadequate space backstage for live performances. The problem was solved by moving the Land office off H Street and attaching it to the rear of the theater, where it became the dressing rooms and storage area for stage equipment.

Ironically, that serious design flaw in the theater wound up saving the most important building to the founding of Lompoc. There are plans to fully fund the $250,000 needed to restore it and move it back up to the front of H Street, creating a lovely brick alleyway with benches and a fountain between it and the theater for everyone to enjoy the heart of the city once again.

Photos: Lompoc Theatre restoration and reopening project continues through challenges

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Lompoc native Justin Ruhge has done extensive work chronicling the history of this treasured building, and we thank him for the information and photos.

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