Monday, September 29, 2008

Cummins ~ Forrest House abt. 1854

Photo copyright Claudia East, 2008

Pictured above is one of the first homes built on Third Street, according to information provided in the book Houses That Talk by Fred J. Meamber and R. Bernice Soule Meamber published in 1986. In this home lived one of Yreka's civic leaders who helped to organize our city's first government. Dr. J. Lytle Cummins lived here with his wife, Olive and their daughter Mary. They first moved to Yreka in 1852 hailing from Ohio. Dr. Cummins was one of the first physicians in town to serve the needs of Yrekans. According to the Meambers, in their book, Dr. Cummins was involved in quite a "scandal" in 1861 ~ apparently while his wife and daughter were in Ohio visiting sick relatives the doctor left town suddenly. . .with a young lady! There is a newspaper account in the Yreka Journal of the whereabouts of Dr. Cummins in 1889, some 28 years later, and apparently Dr. Cummins was discovered homeless and friendless in San Francisco.

In 1893 the home was sold to Joseph Forrest, a local shoemaker. It was Mr. Forrest who had the roof line of the house rebuilt to a steeper pitch than it was originally seen to accommodate a stronger snow load ~ this is the roof line we view in the photo above. Mr. Forrest owned and operated a shop where he made boots and shoes for families in Yreka for 45 years. His shop is reported to have been located at 108 West Miner Street.

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frank Grisez Home ~ 1904

This lovely victorian sits proudly within a wonderfully treed neighborhood at 511 Butte Street in Yreka. It stands amidst many other fine homes in this historic quarter. It was originally built in 1904 by Ferninand Grisez, a local "capitalist" as a wedding gift to his son, Frank. Ferninand's stately brick home sits directly next door and to the west.

It was mentioned in a broadcast once shown by the Yreka Community Television, that when this home was built the local newspaper made an amusing comment about Butte Street ~ apparently there were so many newlyweds that lived on Butte Street at the time the editor thought they should rename the street to "Honeymoon Avenue".

Frank Grisez and his bride, Mary lived in this house for only 3 years or so and then they moved to Ashland, Oregon. Frank earned his living as a surveyor and as a Civil Engineer. Frank Grisez was born in 1864 and died at 47 years in October of 1912 while living in Ashland, Oregon.

At a "Home Tour" (viewed on Yreka Community Television) in 2002 the owners of this home reported that in 1905 the assessed value for this home was $1,100 and the property tax bill for the year was $17.60. The home is in lovely condition today and the owners, among other things, have completely refurbished the floors in the home to the original tongue and groove pine.

If the opportunity presents itself to drive down Butte Street, just back of the Siskiyou County Courthouse Square, be sure and take this short "tour" and enjoy the lovely homes on this street!
Copyright 2008, Claudia East.

Friday, September 12, 2008

To Be Demolished.... Siskiyou County Courthouse from 1800's

Top: Siskiyou County Court House and Hall of Records, circa 1915.
Bottom: The "old" Siskiyou County Court House, as viewed today from the back side.

Sitting behind the large rectangular front of the Court House today is both our 1856 "original" and 1897 wing additions to the building. The larger building one sees when going to the Court House today at the front entrance was built in 1953-54 and actually "swallowed" the original Hall of Records viewed in the image at the top left. Our historic building that sits behind the bigger box-like structure has served the County of Siskiyou in a long and distinguished career. A majority of major happenings throughout our county either happened within or near these walls or were discussed here by many of the well known historical figures from Siskiyou County.

According to the Siskiyou Daily News on Friday, September 5, 2008 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved an application to the State Court Administrator to use funds to demolish the old courthouse and build a 8,000 square foot addition to the newer portion of the Court House (The 1953-54 addition). Along with the "old" Court House, the Sheriff's Office along with the old jail (seen at the right in the photo above) and the cement construction "annex" building that sits along Butte Street will also be demolished. You can read the complete news account from the Siskiyou Daily News Here:

Another note of historical interest will happen by the end of September 2008, the management responsibility and title to the County Court House will be transferred to the California State Judicial Council to meet the mandate requirements of the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002.

The "newer" (big box like structure) section of the Court House built in 1953-54 will be remodeled. The buildings are older and reported to be in need of updating for security and growth. However, it is a very sad day for historians, preservationists and the citizens of Siskiyou to realize that our beautiful Court House and once lovely "public square" will be no more. Our original Court House is one of the oldest in the State of California and is nearly alone in its status because unlike many others near to this age, it has never suffered a fire. It is too bad the county can't agree to an alternative for the new addition needed to be placed on a dirt parking lot or something else near or next to the existing Court House to help save this structure. If you have never walked around the block of our "public square" it is time to walk that walk and gaze at part of the history that formed our county before it is gone!

You can find additional information and pictures of the Court House in our book, Yreka, Images of America on pages 82, 83, 84, 85, and 86. You can also revisit a earlier post from May 6, 2008 in this blog that shows an image of the original 1856 section of the Court House.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yreka ~ a view from 1897

Photo from the Overland Monthly 1897 showing south side of West Miner Street in Yreka. (The Weekly Journal was on the corner of Miner and Oregon Streets.)

It was 1897 and Robert J. Nixon publisher and editor of the Yreka Journal wrote a long article on the history of Siskiyou County and its wealth in gold for the February issue of the Overland Monthly magazine. Nixon included a number of wonderful photos of Yreka in his article as well as photos of neighboring towns in Siskiyou.

Below is an excerpt from this article and in the words of Robert J. Nixon:

Yreka 1897

"The new mining camp grew in population until in a few years it contained more than five thousand inhabitants. The buildings, as in the greater number of mining camps, were irregularly constructed, with narrow streets, the main street, leading to the Yreka flats and familiarly known as Miner street, still bearing traces of this irregularity. With many characteristics of a mining camp, this little town nestling among the hills of Siskiyou possesses a natural beauty that endears it to its inhabitants until they feel that there is no place like Yreka. The flats where the gold was first discovered have now been worked out and are covered with shafts, tunnels, and prospect holes. The town itself has settled down to a place of some two thousand inhabitants, with numerous substantial business houses and beautiful residences, becoming the principal town of a county larger than some States. Once only, in 1871, was the place visited by a disastrous fire, and at that time was all but destroyed. It was soon rebuilt in a more substantial manner.

When the Southern Pacific railroad extended its line northward from Redding, Yreka was left to one side about six miles. With commendable pluck the citizens set about forming a joint stock company for the purpose of building a railroad of their own to connect with the main line, and the little engine can now be seen making its daily trips over the hill east of town to connect with the Southern Pacific line at Montague. Nearly every property owner in the town owns stock in this little road and takes pride in the fact that each year since it has been built it has more than paid running expenses.

Yreka has three churches, Episcopal, Catholic, and Methodist, a free public library, a cozy theater, three hotels, and other attractions that testify to the soundness of the place. The court house in course of construction is acknowledged by all who have seen it to be unsurpassed in its architectural beauty by any public building in the State. For years this town was the home station of the California and Oregon and Idaho stage line."

For other views through the years of Miner Street in Yreka one may find them in our book, Yreka, Images of America on pages 35, 33, 30, 38, 45, 52, 116, and 124.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Smith & Rosenburg / Morrison & Lash Building

Photos Copyright Claudia East, 2008

Located on West Miner Street at 219, 221, and 223 resides this wonderful building that has been a landmark since the second story was added in 1896. Orignally there were other buildings in this location and the first were damaged in a 1862 fire, and later rebuilt only to be almost totalled in the big fire of 1871. Once again they were rebuilt in 1875. The buildings hosted a number of businesses during this time serving as a dry goods store, a commercial hotel, as well as a fruit, nut, vegetable and candy store. Looking at old fire maps one can determine that from 1885 up through 1890 one of the sections of these buildings was home to a General Store, the store on the west side of the building had a variety of businesses during that time with a tailor, a "lunch" store, and a real estate office.

It was in 1896 that Morrison and Lash purchased this building (which was actually two seperate buildings with a shared wall) and added the upper story to both sections. In Archie Noonan's book (thesis) self-published in 1976 titled, Yreka's West Miner Street he explains that in October 1896 the newspaper, the Yreka Journal described this new addition as having "two sets of offices built especially for lawyers and doctors." The building was reported to have "two handsome bay windows extending three feet over the sidewalk."

A local billiard parlor, "Con Brown's" resided on the lower floor in this building for many years, sometimes one can still hear local folks refer to Con Brown's Place. Currently "The Book Store" (Trans Book Company) has been in this location since 1974 and Lalo's Restaurant has been in this location for almost as long.
Copyright Claudia East, 2008.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Baptist Church ~ 1948

Photo copyright Claudia East 2008

Sitting at the corner of Yama and North Oregon Streets in Yreka nestled among mostly beautiful victorian and historical houses one will find the First Baptist Church, a simple but strong appearing cement block building. At first one might wonder ~ why this architecture, why not something more complementary to the surroundings? A peek into the timeline may answer some of the questions!

It was on July 27, 1947 that the founding of this church began with the first meeting of this congregation. Ground breaking ceremonies for the church above were held on October 17, 1948 and the church was dedicated on December 4, 1949. The first regular minister was a Rev. E. Halcrow. In September of 1972 the church held 25th anniversary ceremonies and the Siskiyou Daily News ran a short article and photo on September 6, 1972 regarding this event.

Concrete block construction had been around since since early 1900s, but it was in the 1940s that concrete block construction took a "leap"... technology in producing these concrete blocks was improved by new patents and builders and architects were looking for more efficient ways to build inexpensively and a the same time improve fireproofing and insulation. Concrete slab floors were also becoming more accepted and the concrete block construction lent itself well to this technique. It was "post war" (WWII) and having things new and modern was absolutely high on many lists! At this time one must remember that victorian architecture was 50 years old and definitely out of style. (Today it would be early 1960 construction that would hit that mark.) Many towns, cities, and people were eager to embrace the newer more youthful look of new construction. Whether or not these were some of the reasons the First Baptist Church took on this appearance is not known to this author, but it is an "educated" guess.

Copyright Claudia East, 2008