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Taking You Back in History: the Garrote Pharmacy

By Kathy Brown

Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum/Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society

In our previous "Taking You Back" post, we put the spotlight on Salvatore Ferretti, rancher and butcher. He opened his second butcher shop in downtown Groveland, The Tuolumne Meat Market, in the building that currently houses Serendipity Gifts and Antiques and the Groveland Veterinary Clinic.

The Schroeder Hotel, which served miners and travelers, once occupied the approximate area where Serendipity, Groveland Veterinary Clinic and the adjacent parking lot now stand.

Past Tuolumne County historian, Carlo De Ferrari, told about Ferretti's new butcher shop in his family memoirs book, The De Ferrari Family. “Sal had a slaughterhouse [now under the waters of Pine Mountain Lake] at his ranch in which cattle, hogs or sheep were skinned, cleaned and quartered … following which they were trucked to Groveland. The carcasses would be lifted from the truck with a block and tackle and moved by an overhead track [on the buildings west side] into the cooling room for aging, further processing and sale. At the back of his new building Ferretti erected a water tower for ice manufacturing often sold in fifty pound slabs”. During the hunting season Ferretti also stored sides of venison in his meat locker for local hunters.

A two story addition to the rear of Ferretti's in-town house contained a water tank and an evaporative cooling system for ice making, and refrigeration equipment used for meat processing and storage at the butcher shop. In an era when homes had ice boxes instead of refrigerators, large blocks of ice placed inside the ice box were essential to preserve the food. Ice making was a lucrative side business.

Ferretti's second market originally had doors that fronted the main street where the windows of today's building can be found. The area next to the Tuolumne Meat Market, now a parking lot, was then an empty fenced area where dogs exercised.

After Ferretti closed his business, the building found use as a feed and general store for several years. In the 1940s Mel Lutts bought the building and remodeled it, extending the outside west wall twelve feet. He had the northwest corner of the building constructed at a 45% angle and relocated the doors in that diagonally cut front corner, which make the store so recognizable today. During his remodeling he left the original walk-in meat locker and rumor has it that the grappling hook for moving sides of beef was also left in the building. Are they still there?

The Garrote Pharmacy, owned by Lutts, was located in the building in the 1970s and 1980s. Over one hundred years ago, Sal had designed and constructed this building for the express purpose of aging, processing and selling his meat to area residents. In the years since, it has housed many different businesses within its walls including the feed store and pharmacy, and also a boutique store, a stationary store, a real estate office and the current occupants - Serendipity and the Veterinary Clinic.


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