Normandin - San Jose, CA


Originated as The Pacific Carriage Factory, Original location at 411 2nd St., San Jose, CA. 1875-1890. A similar artist rendering of building can be seen in the "Historical atlas map of Santa Clara County, California" from 1876. The "History of Santa Clara County, California" by J. P. Munro-Fraser has establishment founded in 1874 by D. Hatman and A. Normandin, under the firm name of Hatman & Normandin, on Santa Clara, between San Pedro and Vine Streets, where is was described that "a general carraige manufacturing business, to the amount of from eight to 10 thousand dollars per annum" was carried on with "nine men employed on the premises".

Then named as Normandin-Hatman Carriage Factory, Second location at 208 Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA. 1890-1911.

Normandin-Campen Co., San Jose, CA. Date and specific address unknown.

Normandin-Campen Co., 328 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA. Photo dates between 1924 and 1934? I believe this is a branch of the business, not the main establishment as shown in all other photos and ads.

Normandin-Campen Co., 220-230 W. Santa Clara, San Jose, CA visible on right side of photo. Circa 1929. Photo courtesy A.J.

San Jose Mercury Herald, June 27, 1929, Thursday:

Terminating an outstanding career associated with early industrial development in Santa Clara valley, Amable (“Amos) Normandin, founder of the automobile firm of Normandin-Campen, died at 1 o’clock yesterday morning after a lingering illness of five years. He was 80 years of age.

Normandin’s passing was peaceful. He died in his sleep at the home of his son, Louis O. Normandin, at 1225 Hanchett avenue where he made his home for several years since the death of his wife.

Born [of French parentage in 1852] in Montreal, Canada, Normandin [attended school and] began his career as a blacksmith’s apprentice [in his native country]. Earning one dollar a month and his room and board in those days, he was always on the alert to advance himself, and after saving sufficient “extra money” by building sleighs, he came to San Francisco in 1870 [at the age of eighteen years]. [Normandin worked three years at his trade in San Francisco, learning to speak the English language after his arrival.]

There he opened a blacksmith shop of his own, then came to San Jose in 1875 where he organized a carriage manufacturing concern in partnership with the late F.D. Hatman. San Jose, then populated with a thick settlement of Canadians and Englishmen, proved to be a successful background for the Normandin-Hatman company. The former worked as the blacksmith, the latter as the woodworker, and their business flourished promisingly for many years on West Santa Clara street, not more than a half block away from the present site of Normandin-Campen company.

Manufacturing carriages [as well as buggies and wagons] and buying them for distribution from factories in the east, Normandin and Hatman were prominently identified with the expansion of manufacturing interests in San Jose, maintaining the largest “carriage repository” in the county. [The firm’s business ranked among the first in the Santa Clara Valley in its line, both in the amount and quality of stock carried and in the magnitude of trade handled.]

Following Normandin’s marriage in 1878 to Celina Pinard, [who came to California in early childhood and was the] daughter of French-Canadian settlers in the valley, the partnership sold out to H. Messing and Son. Later, upon the death of Messing, Hatman rebought a share in the company and the firm name became Messing, Hatman and company, dealers in carriages and manufacturers of harness and saddles.

Existing for 25 years, the Messing-Hatman company was succeeded by the Normandin-Campen partnership, organized by Louis Normandin and F.B. Campen in 1903, and now maintaining offices at 320 West Santa Clara street.

Known to hundreds of pioneers in the valley and admired by all who knew him, Normandin’s death will be mourned by many. [Mr. Normandin was a member of the ancient Order of United Workmen.] Funeral services will be held Friday. Thomas Monahan parlors have charge of the funeral. Requiem mass will be said at 9:30 at St. Joseph’s church.

Besides his son [Louis O. Normandin, born approx. 1882]; Normandin is survived by Mrs. Louis Normandin and three grandchildren, Irving, Louis and Claire Normandin.


Looking west towards Hotel de Anza at 233 W. Santa Clara St. Circa 1930s. Buiding in center of photo with tower is the Bank of Italy. Looking slightly below and to the right, the Hudson sign is barely legible from this distance. Photo compliments of Sandy Ragsdale courtesy Buena Vista Neighborhood Association.

The historic Hotel De Anza opened its doors to the public 60 years ago, during the heart of the Depression, on February 26, 1931. The original concept of the hotel began in 1929 after the West Santa Clara Development Association planned to build one of the only "first class hotels" in San Jose. The original architect of the De Anza, H.H. Weeks, designed the 144-room hotel to be built at a cost of $505,000 - 1/20 of what it cost to restore the Hotel De Anza in the late 80's and early 90's. Together with builder Carl Swenson, the construction of the 10-story building was completed in just one year.

The Hotel De Anza became a renowned addition to a city once recognized for its productive agriculture. Built amongst the cherry and plum orchards, the hotel brought a certain fashionable decor and level of lifestyle. Luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, The DuPonts, Henry Kaiser, Jack Dempsey, Susan Hayward, Paulett Goddard and Fred MacMurray, were just some of the legendary guests of that era to visit the De Anza.

Some of the nostalgia that makes the Hotel De Anza such a unique historical, architectural and social landmark still exists today. The beloved 25-foot "diving lady" was originally painted on the west side of the building in 1951 to promote the hotel's heated pool. Her body type was conceptualized from the infamous frames of "Barbie" and Ester Williams and remains a local attraction today. The rooftop neon sign carries as much notoriety as the famed diver. Originally, the hotel was to be called "The San Jose Hotel" but was later changed to "Hotel De Anza" after the explorer who first discovered the Santa Clara Valley in 1776, Juan Bautista de Anza. The ceilings in the Hedley Club Lounge and De Anza room were renovated for the reopening and are exact duplications of what the polychrome overheads were in their origin.

The hotel's terracotta, earth tone and peach exterior has also been restored to a likeness of what is was in its beginning. In the early 70's, the hotel lost its luster and faded into the background and was almost torn down. Luckily cooler heads and fonder hearts prevailed. The San Jose Redevelopment Agency decided to save the historical and architectural value of the Hotel De Anza. Saratoga Capital was then chosen as the new re-development company. With the ingenious architectural and contracting capabilities of Ken Rodrigues and Barry Swenson (son of original contractor), the preservation of the hotel's historical elements began. The results, a new-age modern look and feel. On October 31, 1990 the signature "Hotel De Anza" neon sign was relighted for the grand re-opening of the hotel and the promise of a new history for us all.

Circa 2011, close inspection of the lower levels of the building show construction desgin true to the 1920's as seen on neighboring building in 1929 photo.

Louis O. Normandin
Ad from 07/31/31.

Louis O. Normandin
Ad from 04/15/34 Mercury-Herald

Louis O. Normandin
Ad from 09/19/34 Mercury-Herald

Louis O. Normandin, 405 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA. Photo circa 1942.

Normandin's, 405 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA. Photo circa 1958.

Normandin's, 405 W. Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA. Photo circa 1965.

Normandin Chrysler Plymouth,900 West Capital Expressway, San Jose, CA. Photo circa 1970.

Normandin Chrysler Plymouth,900 West Capital Expressway, San Jose, CA. Photo current.

Suggested Links:

Normandin family history
KEEN Radio - Hotel de Anza Broadcasting Studio
USO Dance - Hotel de Anza

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