Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Petch House Noir

These are the photos I submitted with the application to add my house to the National Register of Historic Places.

"Forget it, Petch. It's Eurekatown."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Photo Finish

I finally, officially, completely, and totally finished the application package for nominating my house to the National Register of Historic Places. It is quite the involved process. Baring a natural disaster, I should get the thing in the mail tomorrow.

The last part, which I did today, was making the pictures for the application. Mainly these are pictures of the house and some of the finer architectural details. As I said in an earlier post, they want archival quality, B&W photos. Also, because I’m sending digital photos, they require the original color images to be sent on a CD as well.

I ended buying in an Epson Picture Mate Dash photo printer for this. It’s a pretty cool little device, and it utilizes a new printing technology to render long term, fade resistant photos. I tried to buy one at Staples, but they were continually out of stock for 6 weeks and running. I ended up ordering it on-line from Epson and it was the same price as the one at Staples. I did need to pay shipping, but I didn’t pay sales tax, so it sort of balanced out. It ran a little more than $100.

It looks sort of like a lunch pail or a 1940s era bake-a-lite purse. It doesn’t use ink cartridges, in the traditional sense. Instead, there is a single cartridge that slides in to a slot in the back. The cartridge looks kind of like a VCR tape, only about a quarter the size. Because it only prints 4X6 photos, you buy a Print Pack for it that comes with a print cartridge and photo paper. One Print Pack will print 150 photos and costs about $45 with tax. That works out to be 30 cents a photo.

While 30 cents a photo is not the cheapest price for photos, the quality is superb. I have an Epson Stylus Photo R200 as well, and the Picture Mate photos are much better. With the R200, the photos look fine, but when you look at them at an angle you can faintly see where the print head moved across the page. You don’t see that at all with the Picture Mate.

Epson claims the Picture Mate photos will last 200 years. I’m not really sure how they determined that, but its good enough for the people at the National Parks Service, so its good enough for me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Write-up: Check

My computer crossed the last “T” and dotted the last “I”, and with that the write-up for the National Register Nomination is done. I want to formally thank Alicia – a Tenured Professor, no less – for helping with the editing and proofreading. I feel so much better about the whole thing after that.

Thank you, Alicia – if that is your real name.

The entire write-up has 4 parts to it. The first part is the basic application. This is the fundamental information about the location and ownership of the house, who prepared the nomination packet, and under what category it is being nominated. The hardest part about that was finding the houses Northing and Easting location. I’m not sure why they don’t just use longitude and latitude. I also must supply a USGS topographical map with the location of the property marked on it.

After that is the detailed description of the house. This is called the Descriptive Narrative and it is basically a detailed description of the property using excepted architectural terms. Then there is the Statement of Significance. This is where you plead your case about why the house deserves to be on the Register. I’m trying to add both my house and the 1926 Mission Revival garage structure to the Register. I’m basing my case on the high style of the architecture, and the significance of Thomas Petch to the early development of the city. The last section is the bibliography, which I finished today.

Next, I need to get the pictures squared away, and after that I can submit the application. If everything goes perfect, I can expect the process to take 6 months. If everything doesn’t go perfect, then who knows. I don’t expect things to go perfect.

In the mean time, here are a few more confirmed and suspected Mowry houses. Enjoy.

I feel good about this one. It is almost identical to a Mowry I street house. It is freshly painted. Very colorful. It is a little too wild for me, but some do like this type of paint job. At least it is being cared for.

This one has a lot of potential. The detail in the barge board, and other trim work is very similar to other confirmed Mowry houses.

This one has a front porch that is very similar to mine, and even closer to 739 K Street. It also has the sunbusts over the windows just like mine, and it has the gable decoration exactly like 739 K Street. I've always loved this house.

This one is next door to 739 K Street. They really don't have a lot in common, other than the general massing of the structures. This is another one of those that just smells like a Mowry house. Unfortunately this house has been horribly butchered. As with 739 K Street, the insides are gone, and they both have those hideous additions on the front.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

They're Stick

After I wrote yesterday that I sometimes refer to the little cottages that Mowry built as "Eastlake Cottages" I started thinking more and more about what the proper term is for the style. Well, actually, I started to think about this earlier than that. It started when I was working on the write-up for the National Register. So yesterday as I was writing, I started to call the first house an "Eastlake Cottage" and I thought to myself, I’m pretty sure that's not right.

I wanted to reference some of Mowry's earlier houses and how they lead up to his finest creation and the pinnacle of his career: The Petch House. My working theory is that he was so thrilled with how The Petch House came out that he died of joy on the front lawn as soon as the last nail was driven in. That is why I couldn't find any Mowry houses in the Green Book after 1896. Like I said, it’s a working theory, and it may not make it in to the National Register write-up.

Several days before this, I posted a picture of one of Mowry's houses on a site and asked the simple question: What style is it. The first thing that came back was Italianate. The Italianate style was wildly popular from like 1840 through the 1870s. It was not a bad guess, but the house just didn't seem to really have all of the necessary parts to make it an Italianate. Because it was so popular, for so many years, I think the term “Italianate” has become this catch-all phrase for any house that is built before 1890, doesn't epitomize a particular style, and can still be considered a Victorian House.

A small brief debate ensued and finally it was decided the proper name for the style was “Stick Town House”. That sounds right to me. The term comes out of the definitive work on architecture in America: Virginia and Lee McAlester's “A Field Guide to American Houses”. If the name of the style is in that book it might as well have come from the mouth of God. That’s just the way it is.

I did a quick search on-line for “Stick Town House” and found a good newspaper article from Alameda. It’s brief and very well written, and has some nice pictures. If you don’t read it, I thought this one paragraph sort of vindicated me a bit, so naturally I had to post it. For once, I wasn’t completely wrong when I’m making stuff up.

Some refer to the Stick style as the Eastlake style. But other than lending his spindles, sunbursts, flowers, comets and other fanciful designs to both the Stick and Queen Anne styles, Eastlake had little to do with these architectural styles, however.

Ok, so I guess all that really does is confirm that I wasn't the only one who was wrong. Still, its something...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mowry Spotting

Have you ever bought a new car, or at least a different car, and for the first month or so that you own it, you see “your car” being driven by other people all over town? That’s kind of what I’m going through with Mowry houses right now. It seems like ever since I searched out all of those other Mowry houses, new Mowry houses seem to be crawling out of the wood work.

I went out and snapped a few shots after work today. The light wasn’t the best, but the worst part is, the first house I went to shoot, the picture didn’t come out. It was a good one too. This was the first one I saw about a week ago when I had my first Mowry Moment. I walked by it and suddenly stopped, and said to myself, “Hey, look, its that Mowry house over on I street, but its here on Grant as well”. After that I started seeing them every where.

All of the houses that I reference here can bee see on Saturday’s post: Eugene Mowry: A Retrospective

As I said, the first house, which I didn’t get a picture of, is a nearly identical copy 1323 I Street – 1891. The Grant street version has been butchered a bit, but it is still a very cool house. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

The one above is definitely a Mowry house, no question. It is almost a carbon copy of 309 O Street - 1889. For some reason I started calling houses like this Eastlake Cottages. I think I may have made that term up, and have no idea how accurate it is. Probably not very.

This one is sort of a squished down version of 915 G Street – 1892. I’m fairly confident in calling this a Mowry House. This type of house, with the double front bays, is commonly referred to locally as a Bay Cottage. I know I didn't make that up. There must be more than 4 dozen of them in town. Some have square bays, like this, and others have the rounded bays. Who knows, maybe it was a Mowry Invention. Either way, it is Very nice.

This one I’m a little less certain of. It doesn’t really match any of his other houses, but it has some traits in common with The Vance House – 1892, along with other Mowry Houses. It just smells like a Mowry House.

None of the ones above are suspected Mowry houses, but it’s a cool shot. The one in the middle is an absolute Monster House, and one of my favorites in town. I tried desperately to buy the one at the far end. I made several offers to the owners and never heard a peep out of them. It was kind of irritating because if they had turned me down cold after the first offer I would have left them alone. As it was, I assumed their silence was an effort to get me to sweeten the deal. Maybe it was, and I just didn’t go high enough.

Alicia asked the other day, why I wanted to buy 915 G Street - 1892. I mentioned the other day that I tried to buy it as well. Before I bought The Petch House I had sold my last house and was living in a crappy apartment with most of my stuff in storage. After about 6 months of looking at dozens of hopelessly remuddled old homes that I didn’t want, I decided to get pro-active. I picked out houses I liked, and if they were rental units, I contacted the owners to see if they were interested in selling. Nothing ever came of it. Oh well, it worked out just fine in the end.

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.

Eugene Mowry: A Retrospective

These are all of the local houses I could find that are in some way credited to the local builder and architect Eugene Mowry. He is the man I suspect built my house. You can click on most of the photos to bring up large format image.

All of these are relatively recent photos, except for The Grand Hotel, and all of the buildings still stand, except for The Grand Hotel {sniff!}. For any locals reading, The Grand originally stood across from The Eagle House and Chapalla Café, where that butt-ugly, low-rise warehouse complex now stands. What a loss. It was torn down in the 40s.

You can really watch as his style changes from the Eastlake cottages with the square bays, to the more elaborate Queen Anne style in his later work . My personal favorite is the second to the last house. I mean, its just absolute perfection. Why, I could go on and on about it.

The Grand Hotel - 1887

1025 J Street - 1887 (Mowry’s own house)

1035 J St - 1888 (The first Petch House)

1006 2nd Street – 1888 (Moved from 6th street. Second story lost in fire)

309 O Street 1889 (Moved from 3rd street)

1731 & 1739 Third Street - 1889

1807-19 California - 1889 (A pair of rare, early duplexes. Both the purple and the green homes are each a duplex.)

942 G Street - 1890

1323 I Street - 1891

915 G Street - 1892 (I tried desperately to buy this house. The owners wouldn't budge)

The Bell – 2nd & E Streets - 1892

The Simpson-Vance House - 1892


220 Hillsdale - 1893

216 Hillsdale - 1893

The Petch House - 1895

738 K Street - 1896

PS: Al, I can’t seem to get your email address. Are you still interested in helping. If so, email me at petchhouse at windswetpsoftware dot com.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

At Some Point….

At some point I need to stop writing about the house and submit this damn thing to the State Office of Historic Preservation. Actually, its not so much writing anymore, as it is editing. I have a bad habit of scrutinizing every little detail and making endless edits. Or, I guess should say, re-writes. You know, making changes to something to clarify what is I want to say. Constantly refining it over and over until it sounds exactly like what I want. I re-read it over and over again and make minor, subtle little changes that I think better get my point across. Constant and repeated changes so there is no mistake about what I’m trying to describe. Does that make sense? Do you understand what it is I’m going through here? Because if you don’t, I’m happy to go over it again and again and again, until there is no mistake what so ever about the point I am trying to get across.

It just never seems to end.

The worst part, of coarse, is the fact that even with all of the edits I still make repeated mistakes in my righting. Stupid little mistakes that the spell checker doesn’t pick up and some how go unnoticed by me even after I read it dozens of time. Is there such a thing as myopic writing? I seem to concentrate so much on what I’m trying to say that my peripheral writing vision does not pick up everything. Unless I go over each letter of each word, I will never see all of my own mistakes. I don’t have time for that, though. I’m too busy editing.

This is why I’m going to take up the offer of a reader of The Petch House blog and have a professional pair of eyes go over it before I submit it. I should be finished with the editing in a week or two.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Little Mowry Detail Work

I guess he knew what he was doing.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Its Fun To Write

I really do enjoy it, but recently the things I’m writing about aren’t that enjoyable. Even writing about bad things, like losing a pet, while they aren’t really enjoyable, it can still be very helpful to write about them.

As I said yesterday, I had Sadie for about 8 years. I really wasn’t looking for a pet at the time. Sadie was a stray and my neighbor across the alley at my old house had started feeding her. He talked me in to taking her in and I was really reluctant. I just didn’t want the responsibility of owning a pet. She was a real people-cat from the start. Very trusting and had no problems approaching people so long as they didn’t make any sudden moves or noises.

When we moved in to The Petch House Sadie hung out on the front porch a lot. The first couple of years I lived here, there was an elderly woman who frequently walked by my house on her way to the store. She would always stop out front and Sadie would trot down the front walk to her. If I was inside I would her the woman call to Sadie as she came towards her. “There’s my girl! Aren’t you a pretty kitty. Oh, you’re so friendly”. I think the woman thought she had some special relationship with Sadie, but really, that is just the way Sadie was with anyone she thought would pet her for 2 seconds.

I’m not sure when her liver began to fail, but I noticed something on Monday. She just wasn’t herself. Both of my cats were strays and still spent a lot of times outdoors. Who knows what the hell they do all day, but you get the feeling that on rare occasions they eat a spider that doesn’t agree with them and there just not themselves for a few days. I will only take them to the vet for serious things, and in the all of the time I’ve owned both of them, Sadie’s been to the vet once and Mort twice.

On Tuesday after work I noticed Sadie seemed to have lost a little weight. Both cats eat out of the same dish, and Mort eats 75% of the food to start with, so it wasn’t immediately apparent that she wasn’t eating. I feed them dry food 95% of the time so canned food is a rare treat. When I do open a can they both act like crack addicts who’ve been jonesing for a few days. They just go crazy for it and pretty much inhale anything I put down for them.

On Wednesday I stopped at the store on the way home form work and bought some canned food. Sadie wouldn’t touch it and I had to practically put Mort in restraints to keep him from eating what I had put down for her. I left her in the kitchen with the food and the doors closed over night. Thursday morning, on my way to work, I noticed she had eaten a little bit of it, but not much.

Thursday at lunch I bought some locks. This is an even rarer teat than canned food. I don’t even buy it for myself that often, and when I do, I give a little to the cats. Honestly, I don’t think they even chew it. It goes that quickly. When I got home at lunchtime she had thrown up what little cat food she had managed to get down over-night. I opened the locks and she wouldn’t touch it. This is when I really started to get worried.

I tried to force a small piece in to her mouth and I noticed it looked like she had an infection on her lower lip. She had had her lower canines removed a few years back and I thought maybe she had gotten an infection, but there was no pain. I had checked her the day before for any abscesses, breaks, sprains, or just for any pain or discomfort. She seemed fine, except she seemed a little listless.

I checked her again and really noticed the weight loss this time. She was definitely not eating. For how long I couldn’t say. Sadie has a lot of hair to start with, and now she has on her winter coat, so she still looks plump. I called the vet to see if I could get her in later that day. This is till Thursday at lunch. My normal vet has surgery all day on Thursday, so they referred me to another vet. I called them and they said they could get me in at 4:00.

Throughout all of this Sadie never stopped purring. It was because of this, and my own naivete, that I still wasn’t thinking chronic illness. I can’t stress enough how much Sadie purrs and loves to be held. When I would be working around the house and I would happen to walk in a room and stop within 2-feet for her and look down at her, she would begin to purr because she thinks I’m going to pick her up. This rarely happened, but for eight years, even the mere hint of me picking her up was enough to get her motor running.

At the vets office that day she sat calmly in my lap and purred away as I stroked her. By this time, she is really not doing well at all, but still she purred. When we went in to see the vet, I think he knew the outcome within a few minutes of looking at her. What I thought was a yellow infection on her lip was actually jaundice. He forced open her mouth wide and the whole inside of her mouth was yellow. Sadie was a blonde cat and so she had gold eyes, but when he forced her eyes open wide it was apparent that her eyes were even more yellow than normal.

He gave her a thorough exam, with the exception of listening to her heart, because she wouldn’t stop purring long enough, and discovered what he thought was “fatty liver syndrome”. I’m not really sure what this is. He said it could also be a tumor on her liver. Even though he knew the prognosis was bad very early on, he let me come to my own conclusion.

At first it was decided that we could take a blood test to see exactly what the problem was. I later decided against this because I felt the outcome was going to be the same either way. No sense in poking her with needles for no reason. Sadie was too weak for surgery, and so even if I wanted to go that route, she would have needed days with a feeding tube down her throat, and even then, there was a slim chance the surgery would be successful. There was no way I would put her through that.

At this point, this was really getting tough. I wasn’t prepared to make the decision, but is was very clear I had to. I went down there thinking they would pump her stomach and give her some vitamins, and in a day or two she would be OK. I never thought I wouldn’t be going home with her.

They rehydrated her a bit and I made an appointment for her to be put to sleep the next day at 3:00. It was really, really tough. The staff at the vets office were extremely kind and very empathetic. I took Sadie home that night and tossed Mort outside. He is the king of the house and Sadie knows her place. They get along fine, but I didn’t want her to have to worry about getting out of his way.

By Friday, Sadie was really going down hill fast. It was amazing how fast her health was failing. When I left for work she was sitting on my bed wide awake, and when I got home at 2:30 she was in the exact same spot and still awake. I don’t think she slept much at all in the past 24 hours. We sat there for about 15 minutes before we left for the vet and I just pet her. She purred the whole time.

When we got down to the vets office the same woman who assisted me the day before saw me walk in and without saying anything I sat down while she looked for an open exam room. She was young and very nice, and it seemed that she was having a hard time with this as well. We went in the room and she had a folder with a release form for me to sign. She let out a let out a short, sharp sigh to compose herself and asked me few questions without ever looking up from the form. Did I want to be present: Yes. Did I want to take the remains: Yes. She looked up briefly and managed a smile and then turned and left quickly.

The vet came in almost immediately and asked if I had any questions. I was curious about the process and how long it would take. There are 3 shots. The first is saline, just to make sure the cathida is working. Then there is a anesthesia to put her asleep. Finally, the third shot stops her heart. The whole procedure takes less than 30 seconds.

They took Sadie out of the room to shave her forearm and put the cathida in. When they brought her back they asked if I wanted more time. I didn’t. The doctor came back in and I held Sadie’s head while I pushed her forearm out towards the doctor. The doctor grabbed her paw and I began to pet her, and with that Sadie began to purr again as the doctor started the injections.

Seconds after the anesthesia went in her head slumped in my hand and she stopped purring. Seconds later her heart stopped and she was gone. The doctor listened for a pulse with his stethoscope, and unlike yesterday, the reason he couldn’t hear it this time wasn’t because she was purring too loud.

Again they asked if I wanted more time with her. I didn’t. They took her out of the room to remove the cathida and put her in the box I had brought. When I got her home and took the top of the box off it looked like she was asleep in there. Her body was still warm and I as I went to pet her, I thought for a brief second that she might spring awake the way cats do when you wake them from a cat nap.

I took her out of the box and laid her on some newspaper on the dining room floor. Mort came in and looked at her briefly but didn’t go near her. I stood there for a minute looking at her. I had this creepy feeling that she might get up at any minute. It just looked like she was sleeping. Mort made his way over to the box and jumped inside to sniff around. When I went to the backdoor he jumped out and followed me.

I dug a hole in the back yard near the porch. Mort watched the whole thing, which is not unusual. He has always been oddly curious when ever I’m working around the house. I wrapped Sadie in newspaper and laid her in the hole while Mort stood next to the hole and looked on. A few minutes later the hole was refilled. I had two concrete piers sitting there from the old two story addition I removed a few years back. I put them on top of the hole, just incase any raccoons want to try anything funny.

If you would have asked me Monday how my week was going to turn out, I never would have guessed it would turn out like this.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Moment of Silence

I want to take a moment to recognize the passing of a dear friend. I first met Sadie about 8 years ago when she wandered into my backyard. She was 4 or 5 years old at the time. Even though I wasn’t looking for a pet, a neighbor talked me in to taking her in and I’ve never regretted it.

Sadie was an overly-affectionate cat and could have spent her entire life purring away in someone’s lap. She enjoyed people very much and felt at ease in large crowds. At times she felt a little too at ease and she tended to claw people if they weren’t paying enough attention to her.

She suffered from liver failure and was put to sleep this afternoon at 3:15 PM. She was able to spend her last night sitting in her favorite spot on the back porch. It was a surprisingly pleasant evening for this time of year.

She was purring with her last breath, and she will be missed.

Sadie 199? - 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Plot Thickens

Google Books has the 1890 Humboldt County business directory on-line. What are the odds of that, right? Anyway, I was poking around in it and I discovered another close connection between the builder and architect, Mr. Eugene Mowry, whom I’m convinced built my house, and the young hot-shot electrician, Thomas Petch.

A few weeks back there was an article in the paper about the house that the Petch Family first lived in prior to moving in to the real Petch House. It said that the house was built by Mr. Mowry, and in fact, he owned it and lived next door. So that establishes that Mr. Petch and Mr. Mowery were neighbors and Mr. Mowry was Mr. Petch’s landlord.

I’ve always assumed Mr. Mowry built The Petch House because there is an 1893 house, 2 years before The Petch House, built by Mr. Mowry on Hillsdale, that has an almost identical front window. Of course, everyone knows this, because I’ve been over it before.

Anyway, in the article a few weeks ago it said that in the 1880s Mr. Mowry’s mill was in Old Town at 3rd & B Streets (Sort of where the new Co-op is today, for any locals reading this). Well, either that was wrong, or it was right and he had offices at The Foot of H Street as well. That’s what it said in the 1890 Business Directory. The exact line is….

Mowry, E. C.; architect and builder, foot of H st.

This sounded a little too familiar. I knew that prior to running The Eureka Lighting Company in 1898, Thomas Petch was the Superintendent of The Gas Works in town. The gas works was as coal gas plant. Before electric lights came along most homes in the country were lit with coal gas. When you sort of cook coal and it gives of a flammable gas. Before coal gas it was mostly whale oil (Eeeeew!).

So where do you think the Coal Gas Plant was in town? That’s right, The Foot of H Street. In the 1890 Business Directory it lists…

Eureka Gas Co.; Foot of H st.

In the 1893 City Directory it lists…

Petch, Thos. D., superintendent Eureka Gas Works, 117 H St, res 1025 J St.

1025 J Street is the other Petch House. Mr. Mowry lived at 1035 J St, right next door. So as it turns out, not only were they neighbors, and Mr. Mowry was his landlord, but they worked right next door to each other at the foot of H st. Hell, they probably road the trolley together on the way to work.

So here is the conversation I imagine took place one day on the trolley ride home.

Mowry: You know, Thomas, this new electric thing is going to be big, Really Big. You know your stuff when it comes to gas, but the time has come for you to learn electrical. It is the wave of the future.

Petch: You know, you’re right. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In fact, I’ve doing a lot of reading about it. Its not that hard. I just need to get some practice with it.

Mowry: Well listen to this. I’m starting a new house next week over on California St and the gentleman has told me he wants those new gasoliers with the electric lights down stairs in the parlor. I know you can run the pipe for gas, and if you think you’re up to it, I’m willing to let you run the wiring for the electrical as well. You’ve done some nice work for me over the years and I know you can do it. Besides, if you screw up, I can always evict you!

{Hearty laugh from Mowery and a nervous chuckle from Petch}

Petch: Al right! I do it!

Mowry: Excellent! And in a few years, when you’re making a fortune on this new electric thing, I’ll build you a fine house for your family.

Petch: That’s sounds great! You know, this electrical thing is really going to take off. Its going to be bigger than the internet.

Mowry: The internet? Oh, you mean how the fisherman interconnect their nets to catch more fish in one haul.

Petch: Yea, the internet just really changed their whole world.

Mowry: Yes, the internet….

Both men grow quite as they gaze out the window of the trolley car and think about the future

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mowery Was A Busy Little Boy

I went and did a little more research tonight. Some of my dates were fuzzy, and I needed to find out if Mowery built the house over on K Street that I talked about the other day. Unfortunately that house is also unaccredited in The Green Book, at least I think it is. Now that I think about it, I know it didn’t say Mowery, but I don’t recall if it said anything else. I may need to go back. Oh, and I had the address wrong.

The Green Book (a.k.a. Eureka: An Architectural View) was compiled back in the 70s. It is basically an inventory of many of the cities historic homes and buildings. At best, you get one or two short lines describing the house, the year it was built, and in many cases, the first owner, builder, and architect.

The question I really came away with was, were did they get the information about builders and architects for the book. I know you can go through property tax records and get owner information, but where did they get the builders and architects. Not every house is listed with a builder and architect, but many are. It might be the building department. I’ve seen my file and it doesn’t list anything.

My house does not have a builder/architect listed, but as I said the other day, I am fairly sure it was Mr. Eugene Mowery. Mr. Mowery was a fairly prolific builder in the 1880s and 1890s. Aside from a few prominent commercial buildings he built, I found no less 14 houses he built between 1887 and 1893.

All of these homes are still standing, and some are quite nice. You can bet pictures will be following. He did not build The Vance House. I was really hoping for that, and I can’t directly credit him with my house or the K street house, although I didn’t see any homes with his name in 1895, the year my house was built. To be fair, I didn’t go through the whole book.

He did seem to build homes in clusters, though. He built 2 on J Street in 1887 right next door to each other. He built 2 on Hillsdale in 1893, right next door to each other. In two instances, in 1889, he built two sets of pairs on California Street. In 1890 he built 3 on Third Street, all on the same block. The one on K Street is only 3 blocks from me. If that one was built in 1895 like mine, that would be in keeping with his pattern.

The one on G Street is just 2 houses down from The Vance House and the owner was a Vance. I just about craped when I saw that. Because the addresses were almost the same, I thought I was reading that Mowery built The Vance House. No such luck.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pictures Every Where

I love digital cameras, but sometimes it can be a pain to decided which pictures to keep and which ones to get rid of. Its nice to be able to shoot 10 frames of something and then be able to pick the best one. The problem is, I never seem to get rid of the ones I don’t want. I mean, you just never know.

This may be one of the most photographically documented restorations of all time, but do I really need 84 pictures of my first plaster wall repair job done in the kitchen. I mean, I am absolutely swimming in photos. If this had been old time film photography there would be one or two, at best.

I use Picasa to manage my photos. It is a great utility except that it is a bit of a resource hog. I’ve been going through old photos trying to decided which ones I want to send along with the application to have The Petch House listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Naturally, I will be sending photos of my house. I will want at least one shot of every exterior elevation, along with shots that highlight some of the more important exterior elements. There will also be some interior shots of the stairs, fireplaces, burl dado, and a few other things. I need to show its High Artistic Qualities {Said in a snooty voice}.

I also want to include pictures of houses I reference in the write-up. Because I’m claiming Mr. Mowery, the builder, is a “regionally prominent master builder”, I want to be able to prove that. So below are a few shots I’m considering. I also need to find an old shot of The Grand Hotel. Mr. Mowery is credited with building it. It was a pretty spectacular 1880s Eastlake Hotel in Old Town Eureka that was torn down in the 40s. I’ve seen several photos, so it’s just a matter of getting one.

The is a house on Hillsdale built by Mr. Mowery just 2 years before mine. I showed a few shots of this one last week, but this shot really shows off the detail. You’ll notice this has my front window. My window is actually a little more detailed than that one. Mine has 41 pieces of stained glass, while this one has a paltry 25 pieces of glass. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for them. I mean, come on, 25 pieces of glass. Who are they trying to kid?

This is a house I suspect is a Mowery house, but I’ll need to confirm it. It is only 3 blocks from me. It has been horribly butchered, but it has a lot of very similar characteristics to my house. The floor-plan is just like my house, only reversed and stretched a bit. It has the sunburst over all of the windows, but again, these are less prominent than mine. These sunbursts have 9 rays each, while mine have 15. The frieze is identical to mine. The window over the porch is identical. The porch is nearly identical, with the exception of the brackets. On the inside, it has my exact stair case, only going the other way.

On the left side, you’ll notice it has the large bump-out with the window that faces the front of the house. On my house this bump-out is on the other side, because the floor-plans are flipped, but the bump-out on my house only goes out a foot. The stained glass window in the front is much simpler than mine. The bay brackets are almost identical, but again, a slightly less complex design. My house is missing the gable decorations – stripped off when the asbestos siding was put on – but the witness marks tell me they were very similar to those. The shingles on the second story are staggered squares instead of the octagons, like on my house. Again, it is very similar, but everything is just kind of dialed down a notch. The only thing that is dialed up a notch is that paint job. I’m not a fan of it.

The only reason this one makes the list is because this is where Thomas Petch ended up after the divorce in 1905. The poor bastard was really slumming it. I’ve never been in the house, but just from looking at that hideous plate glass window on the front, I’m willing to bet the inside has not faired well. No doubt there was once a pair of narrow windows, or maybe even a large stained glass window where that modern monstrosity now sits.

This is the Vance house, which is on the same street as my house. It is about 6 blocks down. Of course, this house is in another league than my house, but it does have a nearly identical frieze as mine, and this house is already on The National Register of Historic Places. I’m not sure who the builder was, although I’m sure it is well documented. I don’t think it is a Mowery House, but I need to check.

The 2 commercial buildings in the above photos may or may not make the list. The only connection they have is that these were where the eldest son had is offices at the turn of the century. Thomas Petch sent all 3 sons to Stanford University and the eldest became a doctor and had a long and successful practice in town.

I’ve been questioning how much I want to get in to Dr. Petch’s life. I’m concerned that the write-up will loose focus. The house is the primary focus, with Mr. Mowery being the Regionally Prominent Master Builder. The life and times of Thomas Petch Sr. should add to the provenance of the house. I don’t think the son really needs to be in there with little more than a passing comment about his success as a doctor.

I think I’m nearly finished with the write-up. I have a list of 4 or 5 things I need to double-check on at the library, but other than that I think I’m done. I’ll probably re-read it dozens of more times and tweak it over the next few weeks. Now I need to pick the photos, and I think I’m pretty much ready to go. The way things happen, it probably will be close to the end of this month before I’m really finished with the whole package of information. It is quite a process. Fortunately I started all of this 3 or 4 years ago, so most of the writing was already done.