In the mid to late 19th century, a variety of Victorian house styles emerged: Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Stick Style, and many others. There were no single set of features which specifically defined the Victorian house. Pictures of Victorian houses, such as the Carson Mansion, illustrate the endless combinations of structural characteristics of Victorian architecture in American residences. Labels such as Queen Anne, Italianate or Eastlake are terms which refer to the use of certain decorative elements, but not necessarily an indication of a specific Victorian architectural style. You will find that many Victorian houses are a combination of several style traits.
The Carson Mansion is a grand Victorian home located in Old Town, Eureka, California. Regarded as one of the highest executions of American Victorian architecture, the home is considered one of grandest Victorian homes in America. The structure features several architetural styles including Queen Anne, Eastlake, Italianate, and Stick attributes.
The 18 room mansion was designed by the Newsom Brothers of San Francisco for lumber barron William Carson and built from 1884-1886. Carson reportedly described his mansion: “…if I build it poorly, they would say that I was a damned miser; if I build it expensively, they will say I'm a show off; guess I'll just build it to suit myself.” The structure boasts a riot of architecture styles and features, including a 100-foot-high tower, which rules the landscape on the east side of the Eureka waterfront. It is one of the most written about and photographed Victorian houses in California.
The Carson Mansion was home to three generations of Carsons until the Victorian mansion sold for $35,000 in 1950 to a private group of businessmen for a club. It has been home to the Ingomar Club, which recently allowed women as members, since that time. The club is private, and there are no private tours.
[Photo CreditS:The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division]
[DRAWING CREDIT: Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)]