The History of the George P. McKay Building

George Parker McKay, a native of Oakland, California, and born in 1860, came to Oceanside in 1892 with his wife Mary Catherine. She was born in Germany, and was the daughter of Bernard Mebach, another early pioneer of Oceanside. The McKay, Mebach and Pieper families of Oceanside were intertwined in marriage and their German heritage kept them a tight-knit family.

In 1893 the George and Mary McKay opened a store on the corner of Cleveland and Second Street (Mission Avenue) which they operated for nearly 15 years. Along with selling a variety of goods and sporting equipment, they offered cigars, tobacco and ice cream.

Mary and George McKay (center) stand at their original store located on the northeast corner of
Cleveland and Second Streets (Mission Avenue) in 1904

George was an avid hunter and sportsman and was appointed “Official Weigher for the Southern California Rod and Reel Club.”

George P. McKay, third from left, with others in a local shooting competition.

Active in the community, George McKay was a charter member of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce which formed in 1896. Both he and his wife helped to promote and raise funds for Oceanside’s second pier. Mary McKay sold tickets to charity events at the Oceanside Opera House, the proceeds of which were donated to the pier fund.

The couple purchased a lot on the northeast corner of Cleveland and Third Streets (renamed Pier View Way) in 1907. Frederick W. Rieke, a local contractor, was hired to begin construction of a two-story new building.

The September 7, 1907  OCEANSIDE BLADE reported: The foundation was laid this week for a store building which is to be built for Geo. P. McKay, on his property on the corner of Third and Cleveland streets.  The building will be of two stories with a frontage of 60 feet on Third and 34 on Cleveland.  The lower floor will consist of a large storeroom and a smaller room for a soda and ice cream parlor.  Above will be living apartments comprising four rooms and a bath.  The building will be a combination of frame and brick of solid construction and with an attractive front.  F. W. Rieke has the contract for the construction.

The George P. McKay building, opened in 1908, northeast corner of Cleveland and Third Streets (Pier View Way)

The following year George and Catherine McKay moved into their new building which they occupied for the next eleven years. They sold everything from firearms to cameras, candies, phonographs, dry goods and souvenirs. George P. McKay was also a photographer and took several images of Oceanside and the San Luis Rey Valley which were published as popular postcards.

Interior of the McKay Store, George and Mary to the right.

In 1919, the McKays sold their building and its stock to Grove S. and Catherine DeLine of Los Angeles.  The couple planned to vacation in the mountains “for the benefit of Mrs. McKay’s health” but she died just a few months later and was buried at the Mission San Luis Rey cemetery. George McKay died in 1937 and was buried in Oceanview Cemetery and his gravemarker denotes that he was a “Native Son of the Golden West.”

The McKay building was renamed DeLine’s Variety Store which sold household items including dishes, stationery, notions and small appliances and a portion of the building rented out as a shoe repair.

Ad for Deline’s Variety Store in 1923, Oceanside Blade

In 1925 Thomas M. Johnson of Pasadena purchased the Deline’s business, stock and fixtures and entered into “a long lease on the building.” Johnson announced that he would specialize in “fishing tackle, sporting goods and stationery lines.”

Grove DeLine and his family returned to Los Angeles in 1928 and sold the building in to Ernest J. Van Vleet. Van Vleet (sometimes misspelled as Van Fleet) had settled in Fresno, California where he made a living as a farmer. He and his wife Ione had four children.

The Van Vleet family moved to Oceanside and for a brief time lived on the second floor. While the VanVleet’s maintained ownership of the building, they rented it out and in 1932 and the building became the new location for the Oceanside Radio Service. In the mid 1930’s the building occupied a restaurant and later a dress shop.

Madame Marie, a fortune teller, rented a room or suite in the building and did readings every day, advertising in the local paper that she answered “all questions.” 

The building was used as a café in the 1930s.

In 1945 the Van Vleet’s transferred title to their daughter Georgia B. Recek. Recek maintained ownership of the building for five decades. Georgia was a member of the First Christian Church of Oceanside and lived on Mission Avenue. She was known for her generosity and opened her home to several people over the 35 years she lived in Oceanside.

By 1948 the building was occupied by City Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business, operated by Alonzo Adams. This long-running business continued through the 1980s. But by then the beauty and of George McKay’s building had long faded and along with many buildings in downtown Oceanside had become an eyesore.

The McKay building in about 1991.

However, the McKay building was purchased by a new owner and in 1994 underwent a renovation and restoration. For about a year it was occupied by the Waterman Surf Art Gallery co-owned by Tom Glenn and Marcie Hintz.

In about 1999 the building was used as a beauty shop called “Talk of the Town” which leased the building in the early 2000’s.

Pier View Coffee in 2019

For the past several years it has been a favorite spot for coffee lovers known as Pier View Coffee. The George P. McKay building has weathered a lot of change over its 114+ year history. Its in the heart of downtown Oceanside, surround by both old and new architecture, and has kept its historic look and feel.

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