With the new Comstock House and Paxton House, Mendocino Avenue was becoming the architectural showcase of Santa Rosa before the 1906 earthquake, and the reputation was only improved by a house in the most modern style appearing just a couple of blocks away.

The home for the family of hop broker J. Edgar Clark was right on the cutting edge of Craftsman Style when it was built 1906-1907. Besides the usual Craftsman lower-pitched roof, exposed beams and wide porch, the house has unusually strong lines because many features are doubled-up, as if they were underlined for emphasis. There are two bargeboards under the eave separated by a false rafters, then further supported by offset false beams; the porch columns are open boxes, and the unusually wide, prominent foundation vents suggest windows. The Santa Rosa Republican called it “Swiss style” because of the second floor porch, but it was really more of a shallow Juliet balcony than a chalet’s upper veranda.

The newspaper article also mentioned that the exterior was finished in Cabot creosote stain, something of an obsession of mine over at the sister blog, Restora Obscura, which explores turn-of-the-century materials. Here, it’s a tip that the highest quality construction techniques were in use – many cheap knockoffs of Cabot’s were available at the time.

In the 1908 photograph below, Bessie Clark stands on her balcony. The house was at 547 Mendocino Avenue, currently the location of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s Glaser Center. Palm trees, by the way, were often planted between the sidewalk and curb during this era in Santa Rosa.

(Image courtesy Sonoma County Museum)


Work has been resumed on the residence of J. E. Clark on Mendocino avenue. The site is a choice lot purchased by the Mount Olivet hop grower of Dr. J. H. McLeod. The building is to be of the Swiss style of architecture, with huge rough beams and square columns, and boarded with select heavy inch siding, finished in Cabot creosote stain to bring out the natural grain of the wood and protect it from the weather. All foundations are to be of concrete. Three great brick chimneys with fireplaces will be surmounted by galvanized iron tops above the roof. There are to be seven rooms on the main floor, with halls, closets and bathroom conveniently arranged. The attic story will contain a billiard hall 25×37 feet, spacious storerooms and a balcony 8×12 fronting on the avenue. Dormer windows will furnish light for this story.

– Santa Rosa Republican, December 6, 1906

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