Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Just In....

On an earlier post today I showed all of the homes and buildings that I could find locally that are attributed to Eugene Mowry, the man that I think built my house. Someone posted a comment about The Gingerbread Mansion in Ferndale, asking if it was another Mowry house. It does have some Mowry traits to it, so who knows. I Googled the Gingerbread Mansion, trying to find out, and I came up with squat on the builder/architect. It is now a popular Bed & Breakfast, and so there were a zillion hits for the house, but none mentioned the builder.

Weeks back, before I did the research, I speculated on some houses in town that I thought might be, or that I hoped would be, Eugene Mowry Houses. One of these was The Vance House. My main source for information is The Green Book, (aka "Eureka: An Architectural View") and either I read it wrong, or this is another of the errors in the book, but it did not say the house was a Mowry house.

Well, tonight as I was hopelessly Googling for The Gingerbread Mansion, another Mowry house popped up, and guess what, its The Vance (Simpson) House! The house is on The National Register of Historic Places and the NRHP site lists Architect, builder, or engineer: Mowry,E.C.

Take that, Green Book!

The Vance House Listing

Years ago, when I first wrote the draft for the nomination to the National Register I wrote about some of the more subtle similarities between The Vance House and The Petch House. The similarities are subtle at best, and I thought the connection was tenuous at best, so deleted it all. I think its time to get out the keyboard and do some updating.

And I thought I was done editing.


Ron said...

I am not sure I would call that an "error", more like an omission. Maybe the researcher did not discover this. On the other hand if this fact is in the Green Book files, then it is an error.

In any case that is a great discovery, and another step along the way toward our book on Eureka's great builders.


HPH said...

Outstanding find!

And there are subtle similarities between the Vance house and the Mowry 220 Hillsdale house and the Mowry 'House of many colors' on 216 Hillsdale.

Greg said...


Spoken like the President of Eureka Heritage Society ;-)

Add it to your list.


I think you're right. You can see a line going from The Vance House (1892), through 220 Hillsdale (1893), and right in to The Petch House (1895).

It really begs the question, though. What was Mowry doing in 1894?

HPH said...

Taking a cruise? Building in Ferndale? Building a house that no longer exists (what a loss)?

Not disputing against your research but I feel that the 1006 2nd Street house is out of order. All of the year examples show Eastlake cottages until 1892. The 2nd Street house, if not a sister, is at least a first cousin to the Petch House. 1888 just doesn’t seem to be the appropriate year for it. Maybe it is what he was doing in 1894. I can definitely see it as part of the line, closest to the 220 Hillsdale house.

Greg said...

I couldn't agree more about the 2nd street house. In fact, I meant to comment on that at the beginning of yesterday's first post. Thanks for bring it up.

That would make sense if that house is really an 1894 house. It would make a nice line of succession from 220 Hillsdale, to 1006 Second Street, and then to The Petch House. You notice the even the front window on the 2nd street house is closer to mine than the Hillsdale house is.

The 2nd street house was originally on 6th street and was moved to 2nd street at some point. That could be where the confusion come from. Perhaps the original house on that lot on 2nd street was from 1888?

Another mistake in the Green Book? Ron, are you taking notes?

Ron said...


Spoken like the President of Eureka Heritage Society ;-)"

Oh oh. There goes my cover. I should have posted under some alias, like "Old House Fiend" or something.

And yes I am taking notes. I guess I am looking a little defensive of the Green Book, but as you know I have discussed at length its heritage, omissions, and how it was used to create the historic preservation list causing some great homes to not even be considered. It is far from perfect, and is best considered a coffee table books as opposed to an inventory.

But I believe it important to detect and correct errors. So at the last Heritage Society Board meeting we discussed how to track any errors discovered so that when the next printing happens we can correct any error found. We are also going to create an "errata" sheet to insert into the inventory of unsold books. So we are taking this very seriously.

To refer back to the issue being discussed here about year of origin you touch on one of the more difficult problems. Houses did commonly get moved back in the 1870-1900 time frame, and sometimes this causes a house to get incorrectly dated. With enough work looking at land records, assessors records, Sanborn maps, city directories, newspaper articles, and the like, sometimes these mysteries can be solved. It is simply not practical to repeat the research that was done to create the original green book inventory, but it is through the work of dedicated researchers like you that we can improve our knowledge and more accurately document the incredible historic heritage we have here.

So while my skin may have appeared thin, I welcome corrections. Keep up the great research. I am loving every bit of it.


Greg said...

I wouldn't have outed you Ron, but you did mention your title in a comment the other day.

As for The Green Book, I love it, worts and all. I think a lot of communities would give there eye teeth for a book like that, and all of the research that went in to it.

Alicia said...

So, WHY is there so much great architecture in Eureka, California?

Greg said...

That is a good question. I think part of it is that the town went through a huge building boom at the time this style of architecture was popular. Had it happened 4o years later this would be a town filled with Craftsman gems. Even with that, we do have some fine pre-war bungalow neighborhoods in town as well.

The reason so much of it remains is because of the redwood. It holds up remarkably well to the weather, and the bugs don't like to eat it. Also, redwood mills beautifully. It is easier to work with than a lot of other woods for making this sort of fine detail.

STAG said...

Hey, thats not so bad...a lot less of the cruddy gingerbread which is added on as an afterthought to good houses around here, and a lot more of that stunning carving and millwork. I LOVE the freize. And the window treatment....omg. No derivative bric a brack, rather,a perfect artistic expression in millwork and wood carvings.

Thanks for putting this picture up here.

Anonymous said...

saw your 1/16 post and had to comment.
i have a degree in historic preservation and have done my share of nr nominations. if i was you (and these are just my two cents..and how it's done in ga, so could be different in your state) send it in to your shpo. they will edit the beejeebies out of it--come out and took professional photos--get correct mapts--do proper data keys--AND have experts not only in architectural history and architects, but know about areas as well. once THEY submit it at the national level...well, that's when a house gets put on the nr. good luck!

Alicia said...

A propos of nothing,

I got tenure, I got tenure, I got tenure!

Yah! Yah! Yah!

Greg said...


Wow! Congratulations. So you're set for life now, uh? Screw off. Don't go in. What are they going to do?


Someone from Michigan said something similar. I'm not so sure it works that way here, but who knows. I guess it's too late now, because I already did all of the work.

Alicia said...

You have got that right. What I am most appreciating is that I no longer have to bow down to the professional dress nazis.

It's no longer anyone's business who I socialize with, where I live, what I do with my freetime, where I drink, with whom I drink, what I drink, how much I drink, what I publish on the internet, how big my house is, where my house is, whether or not I have cat shit in the basement (working on that), who I vote for, what I vote for, when I am too busy to vote for, what I do for the environment, what I don't do for the environment, what I think of the war in Iraq, what I don't bother to think about the war in Iraq, what my religion is, what my lack of religion is, what's in my car, what car I drive, what I like to eat, whether I wear makeup, and, most importantly, WHAT I WEAR:

I can wear GOTH!
I can wear BROCADE!
I can wear MY MINK COAT!
I can wear BCBG!
I can wear UNGARO!
I can wear ARMANI!
I can wear CORSETS!
I can wear VINTAGE!
I can wear ESCADA (though God knows why I would)!

Greg said...

Wait, that's been my attitude all along even with out tenure. You mean I wasn't supposed to be acting like that.