A century before the Ridgway Historic District was recognized, there was a burst of construction between 1905-1908 that defined the neighborhood.
Mendocino Avenue was shaping up to be a boulevard of grand homes, even mansions, that could rival the best offerings on McDonald Ave. There were already two houses designed by Brainerd Jones: The Lumsden House (currently the Belvedere), and the spectacular, lost Paxton House. In 1905 another Jones design was added with the construction of Comstock House, and in 1908, the Saturday Afternoon Club, on the Josiah Davis street extension of Mendocino. The same year the James R. Edwards family, good friends of the Oates’, built the fine brown shingle Craftsman style house that still stands at 930 Mendocino. And although not new, across the street from the Edwards family was a stately three story Queen Anne that was a jewel in its own right.
(RIGHT: Frank Todd home at 1101 Mendocino Avenue, as seen in 1915. A few years later it was demolished to make way for the new high school. CLICK on images to enlarge. Photograph courtesy Sonoma County Library)
The real activity, however, was taking place in the streets west of Mendocino Ave. Bungalows and cottages were popping up on once-vacant lots, and older properties were being remodeled. Some of the new cottages were being built specifically for the tourist trade: “It is expected that there will be a good demand for first-class, modern-built homes…to accommodate the rush of California-bound Eastern tourists this Spring,” the Press Democrat reported.
Only a few houses built in this period survive, including the trio at 1217, 1219, and 1221 Glenn St. described in an article below. The builder was W. E. Nichols, a contractor whose name can still be found pressed into sidewalks throughout older parts of Santa Rosa. Nichols, who lived at 414 Carrillo Street, has appeared before in this journal, including a 1907 pitch to the City Council that they should strongarm homeowners into laying sidewalks (and presumably, hire him to do it). He also placed an unusual ad in the paper after the Great Earthquake, announcing that he was “open to any kind of legitimate business proposition.”
The oddball in this neighborhood is the circa-1880 Greek Revival two story house at 1290 Glenn St. The block between Benton and Berry Lane (now Ridgway) was once part of a small farm, and this was the farmhouse. Originally it faced the other direction, with an address on Healdsburg Ave. (which became Mendocino Ave. in 1906). At some point, probably around WWI, they moved it nearly a block west – typically with mules pulling a platform over rolling logs – while spinning it completely around. Quite a trick, that.
The James R. Edwards are now comfortably installed in their handsome new residence on Mendocino avenue. They have certainly good reason to be proud of their new home and the friends who have been privileged with an inspection of the interior furnishing and arrangement cannot say too much in compliment of the taste displayed.– “Society Gossip”, Press Democrat, November 22, 1908
IMPROVEMENTS IN SECTION OF CITY
Many Changes Noted Which, When Completed, Will Add Much to the Looks of Things
Henry C. Colwell, of 1109 Morgan street, is dividing his property into lots for sale, and will move his residence forward, placing it on cement foundations and will make a number of other improvements.
Burton H. Gilkey, of 1009 Morgan street, is completely remodeling his home and making a modern cottage home with all the latest improvements for comfort and health.
H. O. Malott, of Morgan and Tenth streets, has gravel on the ground will have cement walks laid on both streets along his property at once. Considerable new cement walk is being laid in that vicinity.
The concrete foundation has been laid for an eight-room, two-story home for Mrs. M. L. Waters-Thorne at Morgan and Berry lane. The concrete blocks for the basement will be laid next week.
Several of the old cottages on Davis street, near Ninth, are being remodeled, and made into attractive homes, while one new one [sic] has been built adjoining them. The improvements add to the appearance of the street greatly.
Cement walks are being laid on Carrillo, College and Tenth streets, where not already laid, from Healdsburg avenue to the railroad. Property-owners on cross streets are preparing to do likewise as soon as the work is completed. This will make that portion of the town very attractive for residence.– Press Democrat, August 9, 1908
NEW RESIDENCES ON GLENN STREET
Glenn Street, between Carrillo and Howard streets, which has recently been put in order and macadamized, is to be built up and improved. W. E. Nichols has already erected three large and commodious cottages of six rooms each and basement story containing all modern and up-to-date improvements and accessories for comfort and convenience. He will continue to erect more houses on the adjoining property. The present cottages are good and strongly built in the Mission Renaissance style of architecture and consist of three distinct and separate styles. The inside finish will be of natural woods polished. H. O. Tiffany and Co., Santa Rosa painters, have the contract for this work and it will be finished first-class.
It is expected that there will be a good demand for first-class, modern-built homes of this description and Mr. Nichols is ready to fulfill the demand by erecting cottages to accommodate the rush of California-bound Eastern tourists this Spring.– Press Democrat, December 20, 1908