In 1889, James H. Bush, a farmer who homesteaded in West Fallbrook, built a livery stable with a blacksmith shop on Alvarado Street behind the hardware store that once stood next door at the corner of Main & Alvarado (where Vince Ross Square is now).

The Watkins family had been farming nearby.  The man on horseback in this painting is Ewell Watkins, their oldest son.  Ewell became engaged to James Bush’s daughter Daisy Bush and learned the livery stable was available for sale.  The Watkins family bought the place and put their name on it.  The Watkins Livery stable became a Fallbrook landmark.  It stood at this spot from 1894 until 1912.

This photo was taken soon after they opened, while all the brothers were still together.   The Watkins Brothers offered horse boarding, wagon rentals, and an on-site blacksmith.  They sent a wagon or surrey to meet the daily train at the station down in the Canyon to bring visitors and luggage to and from the nearby hotels.

Their father William Watkins passed away in 1899.  The brothers gradually moved away one by one.  Their brother James Cunningham (J.C) stayed, running the business and providing for their mother.  Automobiles were gradually replacing horse drawn wagons on West Fallbrook streets.  In 1911, J.C Watkins became an agent for Studebaker, selling automobiles out of the old livery stable.   The next year in 1912, J.C. Watkins sold the old barn to H.C. Russell, a nearby farmer.  Russell renamed it as Alvarado Livery.  The old barn was finally torn down sometime around 1920.

Acorn Building at Alvardo St. and Main Ave, in 2023, Site where the Watkins Livery once stood

Tom Frew,
FHS Historian