The A. K. Small & Co. General Store
The general store was built in 1909 by Albert K. Small and his father-in-law, Henry Clay Thompson. Albert operated the store for thirteen years.
The Murrieta Valley Grain Elevator Company Office
In 1918, the Murrieta Valley Grain Elevator Company was formed. Albert K. Small was named the manager, and had the company office located at this store. He was in charge of the public scales, recording the farmers’ crops as they were brought to the elevator.
The Burnham Store
In 1922, Albert K. Small sold the store to George Burnham and his son Frank. The store was renamed the G. A. Burnham & Sons’ Store. The Burnham store operated in two-thirds of the building. In 1931, Frank bought out his father’s interests and renamed it the Frank Burnham General Store. Albert continued to own the small southern half of the building.
The Murrieta Post Office
A. K. Small was appointed postmaster in 1928. He moved the post office from the train depot to this location. He was succeeded by Mrs. Rose Tarwater in 1936. This was the Murrieta Post Office from 1928 to 1940.
The Murrieta Judicial Court
In the early 1950s, Judge Vernon Hilliard was elected for the Murrieta Judicial District. His home was located in French Valley, and he conducted court business within his home. The Highway Patrol complained to the county supervisors requesting for a more convenient location for the Murrieta court. Judge Hilliard agreed to open up a courtroom at this location.
Court was held every Thursday from the 1950s to 1975. Judge Hilliard operated alone, but on occasion his wife would act as court clerk. Judge Hilliard died in 1974. A year later, the Murrieta Judicial Court was moved to Temecula. Today, court is held in French Valley, a stone’s throw from Judge Hilliard’s home. He was ahead of his time.
Vista Donut Shop
The former A. K. Small & Co. General Store eventually became a small retail center. It has hosted numerous businesses for over forty years. Today, the Vista Donut Shop marks the historic location of the Murrieta Post Office, and Judge Hilliard’s courtroom.
In 2016, the A. K. Small & Co. General Store safe was donated to the Murrieta
Valley Historical Society and is on display at the museum.