“Elegant,” “graceful,” “beautiful.” Like a bride or debutante, the fine home that would be called Comstock House was announced to the world, March 28, 1905.
I certainly expected to find some sort of notice in the newspapers when the house was finished or when the Oates family moved in, but a long spread like this — complete with a 3-column sketch of the house, and that being a previously unknown architectural drawing by Brainerd Jones, no less — was a jaw-dropping surprise. No other article remotely like this had appeared in either Santa Rosa paper; it was as if the home was being welcomed into the community in its own right.
Another remarkable aspect is that the article describes the interior in such great detail; the style and appearance of the house is given only passing notice in a single sentence. Particular care was given to describing its layout and finishing details, such as the Spanish cedar, the curly redwood, the arches on the landing, and the chiffoniers (built-in drawers and cabinets).
Also interesting here is that Wyatt Oates wanted to finish off the attic and make it a billiards room. As with his earlier comment, “there will not be a room in which I can’t smoke,” it’s unknown what wife Mattie or his mother-in-law thought of his aim to turn their home into a gentlemen’s clubhouse.
Two days later, the March 30 Press Democrat also published a three-paragraph item that compressed the details below, sans artwork. That article is not included here, and notable only in that the newspaper named Brainerd Jones as the architect — in reporting new construction, contractors are identified, but rarely the architect.
A larger version of the drawing along with comments can be found in the photo gallery.
The Handsome New Residence of Judge James W. Oates
Judge and Mrs. James W. Oates are anticipating moving into their elegant new home on Healdsburg avenue in the near future. The contractor will be finished within about ten days, and immediately thereafter the residence will be ready for occupancy.
The expression “elegant” home, does not convey an adequate idea of the beauties with which Judge and Mrs. Oates and the latter’s mother, Mrs. M. S. Solomon, will be surrounded in their new home. The house is spacious, from the front porch with its dimensions of eleven by forty-three feet, through every room of ample proportions. Every convenience and comfort which can be provided has been arranged.
There is a handsome reception hall, with beautiful steps leading up to a landing, which has an approach of three arches, supported by wooden columns. The balustrade and hand carved posts of the stairs are in Spansh cedar, while the steps are of polished oak. Three stained glass windows are at the landing.
To the left of the reception hall is the spacious drawing room about about [sic] twenty-two feet square and in a bay window recess a large fire place. This is surrounded by a large curly redwood panel reaching to the ceiling. This drawing room and the dining room are finished with beamed ceiling. Separating the reception hall from the drawing room are sliding doors, which come together between four handsome round posts. To the right of the reception halls, and with an entrance off the front forch, is one of the finest dining rooms in the City of Roses. This apartment is seventeen by twenty-two, with polished pine floor, the room being done in curly redwood. A large fire place for a gas log is in this apartment. There is also a fireplace in the reception hall, where besides there is a plant window, and a good-sized sideboard is build in the wall. The ceiling of the dining room is to be tinted.
Special attention has been given to light and ventilation and clothes closet room, with other conveniences in the way of linen closets in the halls and bath rooms. Chiffoniers are built in many of the closets and two bathrooms are provided. One of the bed chambers is 16×18 feet, while another is 15×18, the latter containing four clothes closets, one of which is 8×10 feet, and containing a large chiffonier with drawers and linen closet.
The comfortable library is just to the rear of the parlor.
In all there are thirteen rooms and their arrangement is the best that modern architecture can devise. For comfort and elegance combined, the new home is one of the finest in this city.
Practically one hundred electric lights will be place in the building, and there will be sixteen lights each in the reception hall, the drawing room and dining room.
The architecture is a modified colonial, of a shingle finish, with graceful curvatures. A pretty stone fence, in keeping with the style of the house, has been constructed and workmen are employed laying out the front walks and lawns. The entire structure is to be heated by steam and radiators are placed in every room. The upper portion of the building is not finished and probably Judge Oates may conclude to make an elegant billiard room of it.
The house is being constructed by Williamson & McKenzie from plans by Brainerd Jones of Petaluma.– Santa Rosa Republican, March 28, 1905