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John Andreson, prominent among the men whose business sagacity and enterprise have made San Bernardino an important railroad center, and one of the prettiest and most flourishing interior cities of California, was born in Schleswig-Holstein, near the border of Denmark, in 1834. He came to America, sailing around Cape Horn to the Peruvian Guano Islands, in 1850, and returned with the loaded vessel to London, England. While there he taw the grand pageant on the anniversary of the Queen’s birthday, and saw the Queen near Buckingham Palace.
In 1852 he returned around Cape Horn to the Pacific coast, and, after spending six months in the Argentine Republic, came to California. He continued his seafaring life for a number of years along this coast; during the latter years he sailed a schooner along the coast, and on the Bay of San Francisco, being a vessel owner. In 1861, disposing of his property, he, in partnership with another gentleman, carried on the grocery business in San Francisco until 1863, when, finding it too confining for his tastes and health, he sold out and went to Arizona. He spent several years there in prospecting and mining; was employed as clerk in a store for a while at La Paz, a mining town about 100 miles above Fort Yuma. Subsequently he fitted up a small, crude brewery, and, employing a man who understood brewing, started in business. The trade increased rapidly, and with beer at twenty-five cents a glass was very profitable, so that in three years he had accumulated the snug sum of $12,000. The prosperity of the place began to wane and he disposed of his business, and in 1870 visited the home of his birth after an absence of twenty years. On his return in 1871, Mr. Andreson settled in San Bernardino, having been favorably impressed with the town and valley when passing through to Arizona ten years before.
He bought an acre of land on the northwest corner of Third and E streets, on which was a small brewery established and owned by M. Suverkrup, an old forty-niner, who afterward represented San Bernardino County in the State General Assembly. Starting into the manufacturing of beer, Mr. Andreson enlarged the capacity of the brewery from time to time until he made thirty barrels per day. Previous to selling the business and fixtures in 1884, he had erected a large two-story brick block on the corner, the upper floor of which was devoted to offices. The building he still owns.
In 1887 he commenced the erection of the Andreson block, a three-story brick structure 100 x 95 feet in size, one of the largest and best business blocks in the city. A part of the first and all of the upper floors comprise the New St. Charles Hotel, with eighty guest rooms, beautifully furnished and finished, and next to the Stewart the finest and most commodious hostelry in the city. The ample and cheerful office and the large dining room and kitchen are on the ground floor, the rest of which is occupied as stores. Having sold the west end of the corner to Mr. L. Harris, of Los Angeles, that gentleman erected a block the same size and style, the whole constituting the largest and most imposing business building in San Bernardino County. In 1888, a proposition being made by the United States Government for a building for a post office, Mr. Andreson and H. L. Drew built the Post office block, on the corner of E and Court streets, a three-story brick building, 100x 120 feet in area, and fitted up the post office with elegant modern fixtures at an expense of some $5,000, making the building and improvements cost nearly $60,000. The owners lease the post-office to the Government for the nominal rental of $1 a year. Mr. Andreson is one of the stockholders in the Stewart Hotel, and president of the company. He was one of the organizers of the Farmers’ Exchange Bank, and one of its directors. He was also one of the projectors of the Third and D Street horse-car line, in which lie is part owner. Among his individual in-vestments is a valuable tract of land consisting of 251 acres on the ” bench” north of Colton, eighty acres of which is in bearing vineyard; also real estate in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
The family dwelling on the corner of F and Fourth streets is one of the finest in the city. In addition to his numerous interests of a personal character, Mr. Andreson has been actively identified with matters of public import. He was one of the four far-seeing, public-spirited gentlemen to whose personal efforts is due the securing of the depot and work shops of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, thus making San Bernardino the center of the Santa Fe system on the Pacific Coast. In an official capacity Mr. Andreson has served several terms as a member of the County Board of Supervisors, two terms as chairman of that body. He has also been elected several times on the Board of City Trustees, and was largely instrumental in securing to the city its complete sewer system and the fine sidewalks on the principal business streets.
Mr. Andreson is a domestic man as well as a businessman. He married Miss Knapp, a native of Pennsylvania, by whom he has three sons and two daughters, ranging from eighteen to ten years of age.