In 1919, thirty-five years after the city of Lancaster was first founded, Charles and Ethel Wakefield would arrive to Lancaster. They would open the Jazz Café, a brick building located on the west side of Sierra Highway, south of Lancaster Blvd (See Figure 1). Local historians have stated that for a time, the cafe served as the town’s main meeting spot and was great place to eat (Gurba et al).
Figure 1: Charles and Ethel Wakefield’s Jazz Café circa 1920s located on the west side of Sierra Highway, south of Lancaster Blvd (Image featured in Lancaster, California Through Time by Gurba, Peterson, Debry, and Rawlings).
The Jazz Café would later turn into the Jazz Candy shop. A 1920s issue of the Antelope Valley Ledger Gazette described Charles Wakefield as “the only Candy Maker in his neck of the woods” (MOAH). Mr. Wakefield can be seen in Figure 2 standing in front of his candy store. Figure 3 depicts the interior of the candy store with Ethel standing behind the counter. These photographs were provided in the Lancaster Centennial by Glen and Dorene Settle, who describe the store as a “popular hangout for the teenagers and local businessmen of Lancaster”. At some point, the name of the candy shop changed into the Wakefield Candy Shop.
Figure 2: Charles Wakefield standing outside his Jazz Candy Shop (Lancaster Centennial, photo from Glen and Dorene Settle).
Figure 3: Interior of the Jazz Candy Shop (Lancaster Centennial, photo from Glen and Dorene Settle).
Recently found within MOAH collections is a business card for the candy store (Object ID# 1988.176.1) which was donated in 1988 by Lois Wirta (See Figure 4). Lois Wirta also donated a candy cutter and roller that was used in the Wakefield candy shop (See Figure 5). The candy cutter is currently on display at the Western Hotel Museum.
Figure 4: Business card for Wakefield’s Candies (Object ID #1988.176.1) from MOAH Collections.
Figure 5: Wakefield Candies’s Candy Cutter and Roller currently on display at the Western Hotel Museum from MOAH Collections.
With limited records available to document the store’s full history, it is unclear when Wakefield’s Candies closed. Today, Lancaster Blvd still caters to local small-owned businesses. We encourage you to have a look at the Wakefield candy shop artifact and learn more about Lancaster’s history at the Western Hotel Museum located on Lancaster Blvd. The museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 AM – 4 PM. Admission to the museum is always free, but we accept and appreciate all donations. We hope that you will enjoy your visit and reminisce on the Wakefield’s and their sweet treats.
City of Lancaster and Centennial Committee, Images of the Jazz Candy Shop provided by Mr. And Mrs. Glen Settle, published in Lancaster Celebrates a Century 1884- 1984 A Pictorial History of Lancaster, CA, 1983.
MOAH Collections, Image of Object ID #1988.176.1 and the Wakefield’s candy cutter and roller.
Norma Gurba, Karl Peterson, Dayle Debry, and Bill Rawlings, Lancaster, California Through Time, 2017.