Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Blast From The Past, Part 2

I got another old picture from the Great Granddaughter of Thomas and Phillias Petch. This is an earlier shot than the last. Sadly, it is a very low resolution scan, so there is only this one view. It becomes pixelated when I try to enlarge or zoom in. This was a post card created by a local photographer, so we get a back and front.


That is Phillias on the front porch. The back says, “This is Phil's home and his mother. She sent me this a few days ago with one of his love letters to her when he was 7 years old and it sure is a dear

The Phil they are writing about is Phillip H. Petch, the youngest son of Thomas and Phillias. Phillip was born in 1887 so straight math says he would have written the letter in 1894, which was a year before this house was built. Really though, he could have written the letter in the house because he was born in November of 1887.

Items of note:

The house on the right in the photo is still there and looks pretty much as it did. They added some modern windows in the downstairs and an addition on the right, but other than that it is not too bad. I made an offer on that house 6 months before I bought the Petch House, but someone made an offer a few hours earlier and it was accepted. This is amazing because that house was on the market for almost 2 years. I'm glad I didn't get it.

When you compare this photo to the first photo it looks like one of the out buildings is still under construction on the left. This leads me to believe this is a very early shot of the house. Most likely the year it was built.

The paint is white with black (?) trim. I always suspected this. One of the first projects I ever did on the exterior was to repair the window sills that were damaged when the asbestos siding was put on in the 50s. Each time I stripped the paint off a sill I found black paint as a base. It could have been a very dark green. I also found this same color on the screen door I stripped. I found white paint any where else I stripped, and I found white octagon shingles inside the house used as shims for a 1920s Murphy Beds that were added. Of course, I was assured by some knowledgeable locals that the house would never have been painted white. "White!?!? Oh please!" Well, here's proof.

The gable decorations really make the house. Compare this photo to the one below of the house pretty much as it looks today. I really need to put those back. I wish this photo was scanned at a higher resolution so I could see them better. The railing over the porch doesn't do much for me. The cresting on the top would be nice to put back, but I wouldn't do it without completely stripping off the roof and putting on a new one. This house still has the original redwood shingles under the one layer of asphalt shingles.

A white - or at least non-black - dress for Mrs. Petch? Not very Victorian of her. Perhaps Thomas and Phillias were radical iconoclasts shunning the social norms of the day. Maybe it was just Phillias, and that is what lead to the divorce. Inquiring minds what to know!

I came close to getting the porch restored to original. It is hard to believe that I did more railing and trim than was originally there. Queen Annes of the 1890s were known for excess trim and over-the-top detail. I would have expected to see rails and newel posts down the steps.

This is one more piece of evidence that leads me to believe that this house was an economic stretch for the Petch Family. There is no evidence that there was carpet installed in the house. No fine wood floors, either. No picture rail upstairs. No stained glass window in the stairwell. No fence around the front. Don't get me wrong, this was and is a beautiful house with many fine amenities, but it did not come with all of the bells and whistles.

2006 - 111 years later


Karen Anne said...

That's such an amazing house.

I am kind of liking the railing over the porch myself, maybe because the house I grew up in had that.

I'm not sure what you mean by the cresting on the top?

Greg said...

You can see the cresting a little better in the photo in the first "Blast from the past" post. Cresting is the decorative trim that runs along the crests of the roof ridges. Classic cresting would be tall cast iron. If you Google it you can find some images. The cresting on my house was not the classic cresting.

Lisa Martin said...

I have been reading your journey... of restoring The Petch House... it is a wonderful Journey that you are on. I enjoy reading about it.

Anonymous said...

I like the railing over the porch, too. That's something I like on most houses where I've seen it.

I'm jealous of the old pictures of the house that you have. Mine was only built in 1946 and I don't have any trace of what it looked like back then. I would love to see some pictures and know about the original owners.

Greg said...

I think my real dislike of the top porch railing is that this is something I coooould do myself but don't want to.

Lisa, It has been a wild ride.

St. Blogwen said...

So wonderful to get the old photos! I'd love to know what my house looked like before they put all the aluminum cladding on the eaves and gables. I know the wood underneath was painted Roycroft red-- you can see it dribbling down the brick-- lol.

Re: Mrs. Petch's dress, I don't know about northern California, but in the Midwest, white was standard for summer in the 1890s. Shows up in a lot of archival photos.

Kate H.

Karen Anne said...


Try asking your neighbors about photos. Sometimes photos taken in their yards will have neighboring houses in the background.

Greg said...

Maybe the summer white dresses were a mid-west/west thing. At there are dozens of old photos of the Jersey Shore and Coney Island with women in their head to toe black dresses.

kathy said...

You really need to put that top porch railing on, imho, but love the colors.

As someone who lives in a Victorian and works at a local historical society at the Jersey shore, the prevalence of black dresses may have something to do with the big religious communities that existed, and also (perhaps?) mourning Civil War dead.

Greg said...

I'm not sure they were mourning Civil War dead 30 and 40 years after the end of the war. Perhaps I have it wrong, but it is my understanding that black dresses, along with a lot of other trends of the time, were fashioned after Queen Victoria. She wore black because of the loss of her husband, Prince Albert.

Just because people were religious does not mean they didn't follow trends. Besides, that wouldn't explain all of the black dresses in NY, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, etc. Maybe they only dressed up like that when they went out in public. Maybe people just weren't as much slaves to fashion out side of the big cities and that is why you saw the white dresses in the 1890s in places like Eureka and other small towns in the west. I think that can be said about fashion even today.

Debbie said...

I would LOVE to see old photos of my 102 year old house! I did find quite a bit of information from census records and newspaper archives on ancestry(dot)com. The 1st owners of my house owned the livery stable, the motel and the mercantile store in 1908, plus had a LOT of land. It explains why my house was built with such good craftsmanship. They too were from Ireland.

I found several articles in this site as well. Maybe you can find something about the Petch Family. I did a quick search, came up with nothing.

Greg said...

The county library was treasure trove for me. Old city directories, newspapers, and the results of a architectural inventory.

Debbie said...

Unfortunately, the Lemoore Library had nothing. I need to go to the County Libray and check.

After reading your blog for several more days, I have come to conclusion that my house is boring compared to all the detailed trimwork/carvings/mouldings that your house has. Your house is absolutely amazing. It's wonderful that you are restoring it to its natural beauty after all these years.

Debbie said...

P.S. not that I don't LOVE my house...

slateberry said...

Skip the railing over the porch. But what about the decoration under the peaks of the gables? Looks like a fun project.

Greg said...

I'm going to officially consider the outside finished after I restore the warp around porch on the back, but I think the gable decorations will always remain on the list. They are such a classic element, that they really must be put back.

Eric Pellerin said...

It is wrong to think that the victorians were always dressed in black. B&W photography renders all colors as dark-ish gray black. In 1890s, like in any other 1800-decades, fashion brought all the colors to women.

Everywhere in USA, Canada and Europe, women were wearing these white dresses during the summer. They are called in some places "lingerie" frock, because they are very white, and very see threw. (and note that only the top layer is translucent fabric, there are MANY many other layers, so no skin showing here).

Black and usual color for a widow OR for an older lady.

Anyhow, this was my 2 cents about it.