Dward J. Davis, born in Devizes, Wiltshire County, England, in 1844, son of Robert and Sarah (MacVittie) Davis, natives of that country. The subject of this sketch was reared and given the advantages of a common-school education in his native place, and when fifteen years of age was apprenticed to the trade of a carpenter and builder. He served a seven years apprenticeship and entered life as a journeyman, a thorough master of his calling in all its details, and established himself in London. He was also employed on the Government work at Woolwich, and later on the Paris Exposition building in 1868. In the same year he came to the United States, and after a short stay in New York located in St. Louis and was there engaged in contracting and building until 1872. In the same year he came to California and located in Riverside, was one of the pioneer carpenters and builders of the colony. In 1873 he purchased the block bounded by Main, Orange, Ninth and Tenth streets, and established his residence there and entered into an active career as a carpenter and builder. Many of the pioneer business blocks were erected by Mr. Davis, among which was the building of the first brick block in the city, occupied by merchants, B. D. Burt & Brothers. For many years he conducted his business as a builder, and also engaged in horticultural pursuits upon his block and in the nursery business.
He was successful in his pursuits, and invested quite largely in business property and is now the owner of valuable property on Main Street. In 1887 lie erected the well-known Powell block on the cast side of Main Street, between Ninth and Tenth streets, one of the finest buildings in Riverside. The Rowell hotel occupies nearly the whole of the block, being an imposing three-story brick structure with a frontage of 123 feet on Main street and 100 feet on Ninth street: the lower story is occupied by spacious stores, four in number, and the large office of the hotel, dining room, kitchens, etc. The upper floor, besides the parlors, contain eighty-four rooms, with ample accommodations for 200 guests. It is one of the best appointed hotels in the city, and a credit to Riverside. Mr. Davis is owner of the block and is also the proprietor of the hotel, which he is conducting with G. V. Frazier as manager. Among his business property is 145 feet frontage oil the east side of Main, between Eighth and Ninth streets, upon which he has several well-ordered stores. He has also real-estate interests in West Riverside and other locations. Mr. Davis is a pioneer of this place, coming to the colony in less than two years an from its being founded. He has grown up with the city and has been one of the most active and successful business men, prompt to conceive and quick to act. The various public enterprises that have built up the city and developed the resources of the colony have always received a hearty support from him.
He has been an active worker in the ranks of the Democratic party, never aspiring to political honors, but seeking to secure the best men for office. He is a member and senior warden of the Episcopal Church of Riverside and was prominent in establishing that church in the city. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and affiliated with the lodge, chapter and commandery, and also member of Riverside Lodge, No. 282, I. O. O. F., and Sunnyside Lodge, No. 112, Knights of Pythias. In 1876 Mr. Davis married Miss Grace Cunningham, a native of Nova Scotia. From this marriage there are two sons, George Robert and Edward Percy.