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Livermore History - Joesville (Rock House)

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Joesville, also known as the Rock House is located on Portola by the new Alberston's shopping center
Castle Rock Restaurant Web Site

The Rock House Story


The original Rock House building, 1917.  The sign in front says "Arrow Highway Inn." It was located in front of the current building, on what is now Portola (the street, Highway 50, or the Lincoln Highway, was then in the grassy area south of the current location). The building was moved in about 1924 to the current location.


The original building, now named Joesville.  The building has now been moved back to the current location.  Note that there are now steps in front.  This is due to the contour of the land with a low spot in the front.
Signs in windows read (L-R): "Groceries and tobaccos", Delicatessen and Ice Cream", "French and Italian Dinners", "Ladies", "Gents" (on 2 doors), "Bakery and Cafe".  Sign on upper right: "Cigars & Tobacco.  Ice Cream.  Delicatessen"


Same building at a later date.  Note the house on the far right, also seen in the next picture.  Joe and his children are in front (L-R): Richard, Joe, Anita, Albert.  Anita is the proprietor of the Rock House and Castle Rock Steak House.   "Golden Glow Beer" can be faintly seen in big letters at the top center, between Lunches and Dinners.


Joe Caratti built the arches in front of the building.  This picture was taken in 1977 when the old building was removed.  It was in bad shape, with structural problems.  It was replaced with the current building.  Three of Joe's rock creations were retained:  The 7 arches in front.  The fireplace, which can be seen in the 2nd and 3rd arch from the left. The back of the bar which can be seen in the right two arches (rock work cannot be seen as it faces to the left).  The house later burned down from a kitchen grease fire.  It is at the location of the current gift shop.


Similar view today (February 2003).  The gift shop is the round portion at the right.  The original building was on what is now Portola Ave. before it was moved.  The road was then at the grass area shown at the bottom of the picture.

 

The following is from taken from the current Castle Rock Menu.  The first portion was from the Rock House menu from 1961.  Since that time the original building was replaced by the current building in 1977.  The tunnels are no longer there.  The second portion was written recently for the Castle Rock Steak House, which is located in the "house".

The Rock House Story.

The "Rock House" was originally part of Joesville named after a man whose name isn't Joe.

The  "Rock House as it stands today is made up partly of the old building called "Old Mexico" which goes back to about 1870 when banditry and red light districts flourished in the rugged west.  This particular building and area being one of the most prominent, was finally closed by the Federal Government in 1912.  It has been said that Joaquin Murrieta used this place as one of his headquarters of operations.

The building was bought by Mr. Joe Caratti in 1917 and operated as the "Highway Inn", on Highway 50, until the name was changed to "Joesville" in 1929.  The rock and brick masonry, including the unusual fireplace in the dining room and back bar, took nine years to complete.  The rock and brick collection are rocks that were collected from all over the U.S. and some from foreign countries.

There is a troy of a treasure being buried under the building by the Mexican Government and also by bandits, which accounts for the tunnels under the building at the present time.

The "Rock House" was operated by the Caratti family as a Tavern and Western Dance Hall, and during the war years was very popular with service personnel from all over the world.

In 1961, the business was purchased by Darrell Smith, who closed the place for remodeling and redecorating.  It was reopened July 1, 1961 as Livermore's newest dinner house.  Today the reputation of good food and good drinks, together with the surroundings of the famous rock collection and masonry, make it one of the most unique dinner houses in Alameda County.

(The above excerpt was taken from the original "Rock House" menu)

 

Dear Friends and Patrons-

Id like to take this moment to thank you for your support through the opening of our restaurant and to also give a brief history about this house that you are dining in.

My Father, Aquilino Paul "Joe" Caratti, started the construction of this house in 1950.  It was originally intended to highlight his 200 tons of rocks and stones that he had gathered over several years, collecting stones was his hobby.  Eventually the stone house was to become the family home.  The rocks were collected from all over the country, anywhere he knew he could find some good ones.  In a News article from December 1955 he declared, "Rocks. No fishing or hunting.  You eat all the fish, I still got all the rocks."

My father wsa born near Lugano, Switzerland on September 12th, 1887.  He came to America in 1906 after spending four years in France, where he worked for a stone mason.  This is where he perked his interest for masonry.  One of my father's first jobs, when arrived in San Francisco, was to help clean the brick for the Palace Hotel after the 1906 Earthquake and fires that ran through San Francisco.

My father came to Livermore in 1914, with his partner, Daro.  They opened a delicatessen and bakery where you could buy three donuts and a cup of coffee for 10 cents.  In 1917, my father and uncle bought what was once the "Old Mexico" and e-named it "Club Joesville".  Today, you now the building as "The Rock House".  In the same news article as quoted above, my father spoke of prohibition, "We did a little bootlegging, but you don't have to put that in; everybody knows it."  In 1918, my father and uncle were both drafted into the Army and had to shut down the deli & bakery and "Club Joesville", until returning from nine months of military service.  Throughout the 1920's my father purchased a great deal of land throughout Livermore.  He even gave land back to the state so they could widen old Highway 50 or Old Lincoln Highway (which is now Portola Avenue).  Even when my father had "retired", he still opened the grocery store every morning, (called Joesville Hotel, a twelve room hotel and grocery store across from the Rock House) managed his cabins and then went on to his rock collection.  My brother, Richard, and I ran the grocery store for him.  It was more of a general store where anyone could buy groceries, ammunition, liquor, magazines, etc.  We even had a bar where we sold beer and the Santa Fe Continental Bus Line had a stop in front of the store.

When my father started to build the house here, he wanted it in a cross shape.  Unfortunately he had passed away before completing the house.  It sat for several years before it was completed in 2001.

If you look at the shape of the house, it is now in a cross shape.  When we were finishing up the rock work on the "house", we brought most of the rocks from his home, where he had stashed them for several years.

His picture, with his Army uniform on, is mounted above the mantle of the original fireplace in our fireside room.  Most of the stone work in that area of the restaurant is the original.  This is his dream house, finally completed for your enjoyment.

Again, I'd like to thank every friend & patron that walks through the doors and into my house.  As it was intended, this is a family restaurant.  From every employee here - Thank You for your continued support!

God Bless,
Anita Gandolfo

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