Historic Structures

Carson House - Ingomar Club, Eureka California

Date added: February 15, 2019 Categories: California House Mansion

Technically, this house is the second Carson House, built for William McKendrie Carson in 1885. The first Carson House was a less ambitious residence, across the street from the second great mansion. Carson came to California in 1849. He was part owner of a flour mill in the 1860's and went into lumber. Finally making a more concerted program of mill development, Carson formed a partnership with Dolbeer; their first mill was at the site of the present Carson House. The firm prospered and Carson became one of the leading citizens of Northern California, (Dolbeer and Carson were the third largest exporters of lumber in Eureka throughout the later 1860's and 1870's).

It is usually related that the lumber business was at a low ebb in 1885, and William Carson determined on a massive personal project to employ his temporarily inactive employees. Most of the craftsmen employed on the mansion were practitioners of related trades at the mill - carpenters, carvers, plumbers, etc.

The great house was begun in 1885 and completed in the early fall of 1886, The Carson family occupied their new redwood mansion in October of 1886. Mr. Carson continued to live in the house until his death in 1912; after that, his eldest son, Milton, lived here until his death.

Mr. and Mrs. Clarence La Boyteaux purchased the property in 1944 and lived in the house until 1950, when they sold to the Ingomar Club. The Club had been organized in 1949 by J. H. Crothers and Carl Gustafson* It was suggested that the Carson House would be an ideal center for the new organization, and verbal agreement was reached with the owners in October of 1949. Seventy men subscribed for the purchase price. After a manager and staff was recruited, the Club opened on April 1, 1950. The name Ingomar derives from the Ingomar Theater on the third floor of the Buhne Building in Eureka, built by William Carson. The Club is a corporation, with by-laws adopted by the Board of Directors on May 18, 1950.

Samuel Newsom, the architect, was Canadian born and died of a heart attack on a Key Route ferry, crossing San Francisco Bay, September 1, 1908. He was active in the San Francisco area from 1870 to 1907. His early business accociate was his brother, Joseph Cather Newsom. Following Joseph Cather Newsom1 s withdrawal from the firm, Samuel's two sons became his associates and successors. Although known for some public buildings, such as the old City Hall and Court House of Oakland, Samuel Newsom was especially renowned locally for his residential architecture. With his brother, J. Cather Newsom, he published two volumes of plates entitled Picturesque California Homes.

This presented the firm's style of design quite clearly. As with many later 19th century American architects, the Newsoms were so caught up in the flurry of various fashion changes in ornament and materials that they were incapable of joining the great mainstream of local carpentry and anonymous design which eventually led to a form of modern architecture in the 1890's. Nor were they, like Wright and the Brothers Greene, as well as Maybeck, especially concerned with linking integrity of craftsmanship with exotic oriental overtones. As a result, most of the Newsom houses were awesome indeed. Like those enormous white elephants which careen out of the pages of Picturesque Homes, the Newsom residences were curious mixtures of tortured carpentry and Stick-Shingle. The Carson House is undoubtedly the masterpiece of this manner in the United States - with its gaunt late Villa shape covered in a bizarre pot-pourri of "personalized" forms. The end result is a Stick-Villa, with early Shingle hints, and an authority in expression so aggressively frightful as to be enchanting.