Fireplaces and Phonographs in Historical San Mateo
Wisnom's Hardware, downtown San Mateo, circa 1905

Wisnom’s Hardware early 1900s

The Wisnom Block

Before Larry, Richard and Eric Hassett purchased our San Mateo location in 2009, it was called Wisnom’s Hardware, named after the prominent San Mateo family who owned it. The store, now located at the corner of First and Delaware streets in downtown San Mateo, wasn’t always there – that land used to be the lumberyard for the Wisnom family business back in the 1880s.

One of the first families to establish themselves in San Mateo in the early 1900s, the Wisnoms owned the square block of property, known as The Wisnom Block, outlined by B Street, Ellsworth Street, Second Street and First Street in downtown San Mateo. 

Fireplaces and phonographs

In 1905, the Wisnom brothers, Robert J. and William, partnered with Robert Bonner and opened Wisnom-Bonner Hardware at the corner of Second Avenue and Ellsworth. They were the only game in town and San Mateo was home to just 500 people. Redwoods covered the nearby land and stretched up and over the foothills – and were a main source for local logging companies. Customers arrived in cards, but also in horses and buggies. Wisnom’s sold horseshoe nails and barbed wire, moved into servicing Dodge vehicles in the 1920s and as the decades went on, added large household appliances like stoves, fireplaces and refrigerators along with phonographs, records and a listening booth. 

Wisnom's hardware after the 1906 earthquake

Wisnom’s hardware after the 1906 earthquake.


Interior of Wisnom's Hardware early 1900s

Interior of Wisnom-Bonner store, early 1900s.

Interior Hassett ACE Hardware 2022.

Interior Hassett ACE Hardware 2022.

The History Lives On

The fireplace department lasted at Hassett Hardware until 2012, just a decade before fireplaces would be outlawed in new builds in Santa Clara County in 2021, and in San Mateo County in 2023. 

The Wisnom family loved its history, and saved an entire section of antique post office boxes into the upstairs of the building, replete with tiny brass doors set with glass windows and big dials.

Antique post office boxes

When we renovated the upstairs of the building in 2022, we removed the post office wall of boxes and donated them locally, creating space for training. One of the things we believe in most is training our team, so they can help our customers, but also so they can have the knowledge for themselves and be able to do things for their families or around their own homes. The art of repair is something we want to help keep it alive as long as possible.

Hassett training room

Hassett training room upstairs at our San Mateo store.

We are proud to carry on our own family’s hardware history that began in 1957 in Campbell, and to be carrying on the even longer history of the Wisnom family, and hardware in San Mateo.