Carson Mansion

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Coordinates: 40°48′20″N 124°09′31″W / 40.80562°N 124.15848°W / 40.80562; -124.15848

Carson Mansion
Carson Mansion Eureka California.jpg
A rarefied and exquisite West Coast
example of the Gilded Age in America
General information
Architectural style American Style Queen Anne (Victorian)
Town or city

143 M Street

Eureka, California
Country United States
Construction started 1884
Completed 1886
Cost $80,000
Client

William Carson (Co-founder and Co-owner of

Dolbeer & Carson Lumber Company)
Technical details
Structural system concrete foundation; Douglas Fir frame; Redwood exterior
Size In excess of 16,200 sq ft (1,510 m2). on 3 floors (excluding basement) plus 103 feet (31 m) tower; 18 rooms[1]
Design and construction
Architect

Samuel Newsom and

Joseph Cather Newsom
Engineer W.H. Mills (construction supervisor)
Menu, The Ingomar Club, when the mansion hosted a restaurant,

The Carson Mansion is a large Victorian house located in Old Town, Eureka, California. Regarded as one of the highest executions of American Queen Anne Style architecture,[2]:33 the home is "considered the most grand Victorian home in America."[3] It is one of the most written about and photographed Victorian houses in California, and perhaps, in the United States.[3] Originally the home of one of Northern California's first major lumber barons, since 1950 it has been a private club,[3] The home and grounds are not open to the public.[4]

William Carson[edit]

William Carson (July 15, 1825 New Brunswick – February 20, 1912 Eureka), for whom the mansion was built, arrived in San Francisco from New Brunswick, Canada with a group of other woodsmen in 1849.[5] After rolling out gold slugs in San Francisco, they joined in the northern gold rush, arriving in the Trinity Mountains via the Eel River and Humboldt Bay.[5] They left the Trinity Mountains to over winter at Humboldt Bay and contracted to provide logs for a small sawmill.[5] In November 1850 Carson and Jerry Whitmore felled a tree, the first for commercial purposes on Humboldt Bay.[5] All winter, Carson and his team hauled logs from the Freshwater slough to the Pioneer Mill on the shores of Humboldt Bay.[5] In spring, the party went back to the mines where they had previously staked claim on Big Bar by the Trinity. They built a dam and continued mining until they heard that a large sawmill was being built at Humboldt Bay.[5] They went south through the Sacramento Valley, bought oxen and returned to Humboldt Bay by August of 1852 where Carson, alone went into the lumber business permanently.[5] In 1854, he shipped the first loads of redwood timber to San Francisco, previously only fir and spruce had been logged.

In 1863 Carson and John Dolbeer formed the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company. Eighteen years later in 1881, as the company advanced into harder to log areas Dolbeer invented the Steam Donkey Engine which revolutionized log removal especially in hard to reach areas. At about the same time, Carson was involved in the founding of the Eel River and Eureka Railroad with John Vance.[6] In 1884, on the eve of construction of the great home, the company was producing 15,000,000 board feet (35,000 m3) of lumber annually. The milling operations combined with additional investments as far away as Southern California and at least partial ownerships in schooners used to move the lumber to booming markets on the west coast and all over the globe,[2] set the stage for the unlimited budget and access to resources the builders would have. Pacific Lumber Company purchased the company in 1950[7] and maintained milling operations at the original Humboldt Bay site, located bay-side below the Mansion, well into the 1970s. Following the Carson family divestiture of remaining family holdings (including the home) in 1950, the family left the area. The building was purchased for $35,000 in 1950 by local community business leaders,[3] and currently houses the Ingomar Club, a private club.[8]

Architectural style[edit]

The mansion is a mix of every major style of Victorian Architecture, including but not limited to: Eastlake, Italianate, Queen Anne (primary), and Stick.[2] One nationally known architectural historian described the home as "a baronial castle in Redwood..." and stated further that "The illusion of grandeur in the house is heightened by the play on scale, the use of fanciful detail and the handling of mass as separate volumes, topped by a lively roofscape."[9]:266 The style of the mansion has been described as "eclectic" and "peculiarily American."[10]:65 Unlike most other homes dating from the period, this property has always been maintained, and is in nearly the same condition as when it was built.[10]

In May 1964, the Carson Mansion was included in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) as Catalog number CA-1911.[3] This is the only official historical building listing of the Carson Mansion. Though it does merit National Register of Historic Places status, the private club has chosen not to apply for it.

Architects[edit]

Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom of San Francisco (and later Los Angeles), were 19th century builder-architects contracted by Carson to create the house by 1883.[10] The Newsoms produced many styles and types of buildings from homes to churches to public buildings including: the Oakland City Hall, the Alameda County Courthouse, and the Napa County Courthouse.[2]:35 Of their many commissions in California, a few original buildings remain in addition to the Carson Mansion, including the Napa Valley Opera House and the San Dimas Hotel.[11] Another of their designs was built in Eureka in 1982 by the Carter House Inn.[12] It is a replica of the 1885 Murphy House in San Francisco, designed by Newsom and Newsom, which was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.[12]

Popular culture[edit]

The design of the house is prevalent in website design, video animations, posters, paintings, book covers and includes renditions in amusement parks, including the clock tower on the train station at Disneyland.[13] The home also serves as a model for haunted house art work and design.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Graves, Wally (October 1995). "Carson Mansion, the inside story". North Coast Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sacks, Benjamin (1979). Carson Mansion and Ingomar Theatre: Cultural adventures in California. Valley Publishers. ISBN 978-0-913548-64-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Carson House, Eureka, Humboldt, CA". Historic American Building Surveys, Engineering Records, Landscape Surveys Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Library of Congress. 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Sanderson, Helen; Keith Easthouse (August 7, 2003). "The Eureka icon that's off limits: Tourists feel misled by promotion of Carson mansion". North Coast Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Leigh Hadley Irvine (1915). History of Humboldt County, California: With Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the County who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present. Historic Record Company. 
  6. ^ Lynwood Carranco; John T. Labbe (1 January 1975). Logging the Redwoods. Caxton Press. pp. 112–. ISBN 978-0-87004-536-3. 
  7. ^ "Colorful past, uncertain future for Engine No. 9". The Scotia Independent 1 (1): 1. March 28, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Welcome". Ingomar Club. 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ David G. De Long (1986). American Architecture: Innovation and Tradition. Rizzoli. 
  10. ^ a b c Overholt, Ken (1987). Eureka, an Architectural View. Eureka Heritage Society. ISBN 978-0-9615004-0-5. 
  11. ^ Samuel Newsom; Joseph C. Newsom; David Gebhard; Harriette Von Breton, Robert Winter, UCSB Art Museum, Oakland Museum (1979). Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom: Victorian architectural imagery in California, 1878-1908 : UCSB Art Museum, Santa Barbara, April 4 through May 6, 1979, the Oakland Museum, Oakland, May 22 through August 12, 1979. The CSB Museum and The Oakland Museum. 
  12. ^ a b Naverson, Kenneth (1998). Beautiful America's California Victorians. Beautiful America Publishing Co. pp. 1858–. ISBN 978-0-89802-701-3. 
  13. ^ a b Stenger, Richard (October 28, 2010). "The Creepy Carson". North Coast Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 

Additional reading[edit]