I have written before about how I am surrounded by Victorian architecture in Northern California, and this week we made it up to Humboldt County where you get it in spades. The capper is of course the Carson Mansion in Eureka, which has inhabited every architectural style book I have owned since 1983.
This over-the-top horror vacui of a composition dates from 1884 and in my first architectural style book it illustrated both Queen Anne and Eastlake styles (it also supposedly embodies Stick and Italianate) and is still the centerpiece of Eureka, which blossomed as a lumber town in the Gilded Age and saved just enough of it for a critical mass downtown, despite a godawful prison and too many parking lots.
The famed Pink Lady across from the Carson Mansion. It’s for sale!
A row of Shingley Queen Annes on 2nd Street
Eureka trades on this history and did save a reasonable chunk of the old downtown with some very fine big Italianate and Queen Anne blocks from the late 19th century. This one has an excellent new tourist center (beer on draft – how can you have a tourist center without beer on draft??)
Now that’s my kind of McDonald’s
Shingle Style influence here, with a nice rounded glass oriel
The plaque on this one even says “Eclectic,” which is Architectural Historian for “I give up.”
They trade on the Victorian so much in Eureka that 25 years ago they rebuilt a long-gone San Francisco house from what is now the Financial District. Thankfully the sign and guides note that it is a recreation.
We were walking past the Carson Block and noticed they were exposing some of its original skin…
That’s terra cotta!
and pressed metal bays…
So I went back Monday and ran into my old friend Bill Hole, who was helping with what appears to be a great restoration.
A few more shots of historic Eureka
Carter House Inn Hotel – amazing place
old-timey clocks, brick sidewalks, the whole shebang
Horse carriage. Forgot that part of the whole shebang
fine lookin’ cottage
This one needs work
But wait, there’s more! A few miles down the road there is Ferndale, which I seem to recall was the subject of a coloring book and which featured this building that I also used incessantly in architectural history slide shows:
Bed and breakfasts expand into inns and tourism adds to the “cream” economy – you certainly pass a lot of cows on the road into town.
The Victorian Inn. Says it right there in the name!
This house near the downtown reminds me that there is a strong current of Victorian Gothic in the houses of the North and Lost Coasts of California. As one would expect, you get a slight lag from the East Coast, so Victorian Gothic which peaked in the East in the 1840s is still making itself felt here in the 1850s. After all, it took three months to get here. But get here they did, mostly by boat and they brought so much of their architecture with them that the famed historic town of Mendocino has been used as the set of an East Coast town in multiple movies and TV shows.
Mendocino, She Wrote. Why doesn’t the sun rise over the ocean?
Emare-gency, Emare-gency Everybody to get from street!
Plenty of 1850s Gothicky houses
And a few saltboxes
The most distinctive feature of the townscape are the ubiquitous water tower- originally headed by windmills that powered the wells below and filled the storage tanks. Almost every house has one, and it adds an interesting atmosphere to the town. The Main drag has plenty of false fronts and of course the hotel, while there are two major house museums in town and plenty of B & Bs.
Verging on the Gothic again. At least in the vergeboards
Kelley changed the spelling of her last name to make it classier
This is where we stayed. Could be East Coast if not for the obvious drought
Now I could go into the details of historic tourism and the economics of house museums and the decline of the logging industry and so forth, but this was a vacation so I am just going to show a few more pictures of Fort Bragg, a few miles up the Coast from Mendocino.
This is the Guest House. No, really, the name was Guest
So, for those of you who wondered if I missed Victorian architecture in California…