Drug stores, general merchandise establishments, "Gents' furnishings stores," cigar factories, barber shops, jewelers and milliners, stationers and taverns were all part of this five store block, built in three sections.
The comer, "one story fireproof brick drug store," was built for Dr. G.C. Bowen in the fall of 1871 and, although damaged by the July 1875 fire which destroyed the entire north side of the Plaza and other blocks, Bowen's brick store survived and, in fact, was credited with stopping the fire at that point.
The adjacent store, also of brick, was built in 1877 and first housed a jeweler and the stationery, music, and book store of noted Arcata photographer, A.W. Ericson. Arcata's Reading Room, Wells Fargo Express Office, Western Union Telegraph Office and the Post Office were also part of Ericson's store in the 1880's.
The "three commodious brick stores" on the remainder of the property were built for Dr. Bowen in the "same general style of architecture" as the other two stores in 1880. Bowen's Block, later known as the Zehndner Block, was a unique architecture style for Arcata. Built of brick, the facade consisted of five recessed and arched doorways, separated by arched, six pane windows, marked by a sign parapet above each store, and decorated with a row of brick dentils.
In 1897, owner Zehndner replaced the brick front with a Victorian style facade with highly decorative wood, which included a projecting cornice lined with brackets and a frieze of dentils and panels. Larger brackets and roof finials highlighted the building's comers and the individual store walls. Remodeling in the 1930's removed this beautiful facade, built by master carpenter Nelson Johansen, and replaced it with stucco and tile. All vestiges of the building's early architecture were erased in 1960 when the metal and brick facing was added.