Carson Mansion

Carson Mansion

Infobox Historic building
name= Carson Mansion

caption= A rarefied and exquisite example of the Gilded Age in America
location_town= Second and "M" Streets,
Eureka, California
location_country= United States
architect= Samuel Newsom andJoseph Cather Newsom
client= William Carson (Co-owner,
Dolbeer & Carson Lumber Company)
engineer= W.H. Mills (construction supervisor)
construction_start_date= 1884
completion_date= 1886
cost= $80,000
structural_system= concrete foundation; Douglas Fir frame; Redwood exterior
style= Queen Anne (Victorian)
size= In excess of convert|16200|sqft|m2|abbr=on. on 3 floors (excluding basement) plus tower; 18 rooms [ [ North Coast Journal: Carson Mansion, the inside story] ]

The Carson Mansion is a large Victorian house located in Old Town, Eureka, California. Considered one of the highest executions of Queen Anne Style architecture, [Carson Mansion & Ingomar Theatre, p. 33] the home is the most recognizable landmark on the California North Coast. It is one of the most written about, and photographed Victorian houses in California, and perhaps in the United States.

William Carson

William Carson (July 15, 1825 – February 20, 1912), for whom the mansion was built, arrived in San Francisco from New Brunswick, Canada in 1849. His first attempts at financial security in the minor gold rush in the Trinity Mountains region failed. During one of the winters between forays into mining, Carson hauled logs from the Freshwater slough to the Pioneer Mill on the shores of Humboldt Bay. He claimed to be the first to fell a tree for commercial purposes on Humboldt Bay. By 1853 he was selling shiploads of Redwood lumber, bound for San Francisco. In 1863 Carson formed the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company, in partnership with John Dolbeer, who would invent the Steam Donkey Engine in 1881 and revolutionize logging. In 1884, on the eve of construction of the great home, the successful operation was producing 15,000,000 board feet 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, [Carson Mansion & Ingomar Theatre] set the stage for the unlimited budget and access to resources the builders would have.

Architectural style

The mansion is a mix of every major style of Victorian Architecture, including but not limited to the following styles: Eastlake, Italianate, Queen Anne (primary), and Stick, depending on which expert one consults. [Carson Mansion & Ingomar Theatre] The home "epitomizes the range of possibilities for eclectic design expression" in the use of Victorian architectural styles in a manner that is "peculiarily American." Unlike most other homes dating from the period, this property has always been meticulously maintained, therefore standing today in virtually the same condition as when it was built. [Eureka: An Architectural View, p. 65]

The Carson Mansion is included in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) as Catalog number CA-1911. Completed in May 1964, this is the only official historical building listing of this State of California and nationally architecturally significant structure. [ [ Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record: Carson House, HABS No. 1911, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 1964] ] Though it merits National Register of Historic Places status, the Ingomar - the private club that owns the home - guards the privacy of their club, and thus the mansion, allowing no possibility of outside influence. Consequently and purposefully, the home and grounds are never open to the public.

Newsom Brothers, builder-architects

Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom of San Francisco, premier 19th century builder-architects (as they were called during the period), were placed under contract by Carson to create the house by 1883. They produced many styles and types of buildings from homes to churches to public buildings in their careers spanning many decades. Among their many accomplishments were the Oakland City Hall (1869) and the Alameda County Courthouse (1875). [Carson Mansion & Ingomar Theatre, p. 35] The Napa Valley Opera House (1879), which was completely restored and reopened by 2003, is another showcase of their detail work as builders.



*A Castle in Fairyland, Evelyn Shuster Worthen, 1984.
*Carson House (CA-1911), Photograph-Data Book Report, Historical American Buildings Survey, Joseph Baird, Jr., 1964
*Carson Mansion & Ingomar Theatre: Cultural Adventures in California, Benjamin Sacks, 1979.
*Eureka: An Architectural View, Eureka Heritage Society (Ken Overholt, Editor), 1987.
*The Carson Mansion: America's Finest Victorian Home, Scoop Beal, 1973.

*Picturesque California Homes, No. 1, Samuel Newsom and J Cather Newsom, 1884–1885 (Reproduced in 1978 with introduction by David Gebhard).
*Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom: Victorian Architectural Imagery in California, 1878–1908, David Gebhard, 1979.

*California Architecture: Historic American Buildings Survey, Sally Woodbridge, 1988.

External links

* [ Ingomar Club] - official website of the private club that owns the Carson Mansion; includes history and extensive interior photos

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