Northwest corner of University Avenue and Main Street, B. D. Burt & Brother, General Merchandise Store

Belden D Burt

Belden Burt came to California from Orange County, New York, as a 49er. After one season, he left the prospector’s life and became a merchant, first in Sacramento, then adding operations in Placer, Nevada, and Napa Counties.

In 1875, Burt came south, choosing Riverside for his new home. He and his brother, Benjamin Franklin Burt, set up B. D. Burt & Brother, building the first brick building in the city at the corner of Main Street and University Avenue.

Burt was president of the group that convened on May 12, 1883, to begin the process of Riverside’s incorporation as a city. One of the issues of that led to the proposal to incorporate was the request to the board of supervisors for an increase in water rates by the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company, led by S. C. Evans. Evans insisted that the fees paid for water failed to support the costs of the water system, though the water system itself made it possible for his development company to pursue land sales. Landowners using irrigation water were determined to have control of the water supply and rates in the future and they saw incorporation as a city as their way to ensure it.

The election, held September 25, 1883, passed 228 to 147. B.D. Burt was elected city treasurer in the same election.