Historic Residents in Campbell You Need to Know: Benjamin O. Curry
Benjamin O. Curry was born in Norway in 1952. He immigrated to the United States in 1872 and settled in California in 1874. During this time, Curry worked as a miner in the quartz mines and cut timber in the Sierra-Nevada Mountain Range.
In 1891, Benjamin O. Curry married Carrie Hakemoller (b. 1869). Hakemoller lived in El Dorado County with her mother, father, four siblings, and cousin. In the late 19th century, many families in El Dorado County were gold miners, but the Hakemollers made a living farming. Around this time, Curry purchased land on East Parr Avenue (now Dell Avenue in Campbell) and moved. On this land, Curry and his family planted and grew fruit trees. 1891 is also the year in which Curry started his real estate business in Campbell.
Benjamin O. Curry’s real estate business is what makes him a central figure in Campbell’s history. Curry's real estate business had humble beginnings, as evidenced in the photograph above. However, as the business grew, so did Curry’s ownership of several important Campbell buildings. From 1891 to 1912, Curry’s real estate firm primarily dealt in farm and city properties but with the influx of new residents to Campbell and the surrounding areas, Curry's business began to grow quickly. We don’t know a lot about Curry’s first real estate building but it is possible that Curry began his business in this building that might have been located on East Parr Avenue, now Dell Avenue.
In 1912, Benjamin O. Curry’s real estate business had outgrown its original building and Curry was able to built a two-story Mission-Revival Style building on the corner of Harrison Avenue at Campbell Avenue (now Blue Line Pizza). Curry and his team moved their offices here. The building was so large that it was also able to accommodate several other budding Campbell businesses in the early twentieth century including: the Campbell Post Office, Clark’s Drug Store and a dentist’s office.
In January of 1920, Benjamin O. Curry, along with several other Campbell residents including John Colpitts Ainsley, George E. Hyde, Ralph H. Hyde, and James Turner, became part of the Campbell Building and Investment Company. These five men served as the company’s first directors. A few years later, several of these men would own much of the business and land on Campbell Avenue, near what is now Downtown Campbell and the railroad tracks that runs perpendicular to Campbell Avenue.
That same year, Benjamin O. Curry secured funds to build another section of businesses across the street from his second real estate office. One of these buildings was the Grower’s National Bank (later the Gaslighter Theater and now LVL Up) where Curry served as president. This building would remain a bank until 1929.
Benjamin O. Curry was also president of the Grower’s National Bank, served on Campbell Grammar School's Board of Trustees and was the president of the Campbell Improvement Club. Curry and his wife, Carrie had three daughters: Myrtle, Olga, and Ethel. Curry died in Santa Clara in 1941.
All photographs for this article are part of the Campbell Historical Museum's photography collection.