Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Carson Mansion, Eureka California

"The Ingomar Club, Carson Mansion, Eureka, California"

The Ingomar Club has owned the Carson Mansion since about 1950, and maintains one of the better online collections of information about that magnificent pile.

Carson Mansion / Ingomar Club

"...William Carson was born in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. He joined the gold rush to California in 1849 to 1850. He purchased a pack of horses and proceeded to the gold fields in Trinity County, along the Trinity River. However, the endeavor proved unsuccessful and by 1854 Mr. Carson was operating a mill in Humboldt County...."

There's more:They've also got the best tour I've seen, of the Carson Mansion interior, including this photo:

(from Ingomar Club, used w/o permission)
"Arguably the most stunning space in the house, the second floor hall is a convergence of materials. Both redwood and primavera are used in harmony. Moorish arches create a dramatic layering pattern that is characteristic of 'Victorian' architecture and dominate the rectangular space. The cast plaster archways...."

Bottom line? This is one ornate, fancy old house.

A local historical/heritage society has a decent writeup on the Carson Mansion, too:

"The Carson Mansion"
The Eureka Heritage Society

"One of the most written about, and photographed Victorian houses in California, and perhaps in the United States, the William Carson Mansion epitomizes the range of possibilities for eclectic design expression that created a peculiarly American style of architecture. Derived from many sources, but unique enough to represent none predominately, this much discussed and debated property stands today in virtually the same condition as when first constructed. The designers, Samuel and Joseph Newsom, were well respected San Francisco architects who heartily embraced the concept of the "picturesque", a quality that continues to fascinate all who see the Carson Mansion's intricately composed interiors and exteriors...."

No question about it: this is one impressive house. There's even a sort of animated slide show displaying the Carson Mansion's exterior, on YouTube:

"Carson Mansion Eureka California - Home of a Lumber Baron"

ViewHome, YouTube (September 18, 2009)
video/slideshow, 10:00

"If there is only one photo of an American Victorian building in an architecture history book, it will usually be of this house. Carson owned a sawmill on brow of a hill next to the ocean bay in Eureka, California. There was a recession, so lumber sales were very low. To keep paying his millworkers, he had them build a new home 1884-1885. It kept his workers paid for until the economy returned to purchasing lumber. In the 1800s they did not use the terms 'Recession' or 'Depression'. Back then a term for similar conditions was called a 'Panic'...."

ViewHome's 'video' is more of a glorified slideshow, zooming in and panning across still photos. Technically excellent, but you might find it a bit slow-paced. Or, be frustrated when you wanted a longer look at one feature. Not the worst way to spend 10 minutes, though, by far.

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