The growing of wheat for the domestic and foreign export market was a major occupation in California in the late 1850s and 1860s. Along with the growth of wheat in the Central Valley, flour milling was just as important to the economic vitality of Sacramento. Flour was a basic commodity needed by the miners who rushed to the Sierra in search of gold, and Sacramento rapidly moved to meet the demand. By 1854, only four years after the gold rush began, six flourmills were operating in Sacramento, producing nearly 585 barrels per day.
The Phoenix Milling Company operated at 13th and J Street from 1853-1913. By 1912, Sacramento was growing quickly, with a steady eastward push in residential expansion. In 1913, the Phoenix Milling Company purchased the property at 12th and C Street where they constructed a new mill, which according to the Sacramento Bee, would be the most modern mill on the Pacific Coast. The milling company hired P.J. Herold, a well-known Sacramento architect, to design the building, and by 1914, Phoenix had constructed a new, five-story mill building.
The mill continued to be operated as an independent company until 1919 when it, along with all the Phoenix holdings, was sold to the Globe Milling Company of San Francisco for $1,000,000. Globe was a large company that operated a number of flourmills stretching from El Paso, Texas to Portland, Oregon. The mill remained highly productive and was cited by the Bee in 1931 as one of the key companies that made Sacramento a center of agricultural shipping and contributed to the city’s ‘astounding’ industrial payroll.
In 1940, the Globe Mills was purchased by Pillsbury, who continued to manufacture flour under the Globe’s trademarks. In 1941, Pillsbury, as a part of the war mobilization effort, undertook a major modernization of the plant, adding significantly to the bulk grain storage capacity of the Mills. In addition to flour, Pillsbury introduced feed production, particularly poultry mashes.
The complex of buildings – including the flour mill, barley mill, paste house, and broiler – remained the basic components of the Mills until 1942, when another large updating of the production facilities was undertaken, this time as part of the war-time effort to increase the storage of grain and flour products throughout the country. Pillsbury invested $250,000 in order to triple the storage capacity of the Mills and constructed forty-two circular poured concrete silos, as well as thirty square silos. These improvements made the plant one of the largest feed and flour mills in California.
The Mills continued production of feed and flour until 1968 when Pillsbury closed their entire operation.
After 40 years of dormancy, the Globe Mills has finally been reborn thanks to a visionary team lead by local developers Cyrus Youssefi and Skip Rosenbloom along with invaluable support from the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.
The Globe Mills is a City of Sacramento Landmark and is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historical Places.