Designed by Samuel and Joseph Newsom, architects from San Francisco, the Carson Museum in Eureka, CA, showcases a peculiar American style. The unique structure—made primarily of redwood and 97,000 feet of white mahogany from Central America, and onyx from East India, Mexico and the Philippines—has continued to draw gawkers from all over the country. Today, the site is widely understood to be the most photographed and written about Victorian house in the United States.
Built for William Carson (1825–1912), one of Northern California’s first major lumber barons, the intricately detailed mansion took more than 100 men over two years to construct.
After failing to make a fortune in the mid-19th century California Gold Rush, Carson took to the forests of Northern California himself, felling shiploads of Redwood lumber bound for San Francisco. After a decade of working in the woods—and mining, when the seasons allowed—Carson formed the Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company with John Dolbeer, who later invented the steam donkey engine that revolutionized the industry. By the 1880s, Carson’s company was producing 15,000,000 board feet of lumber every year.
The Carson family sold the mansion in 1950 to the private Ingomar Club, which still uses the house and does not allow tours of the residence. If visitors were allowed inside the front doors, they would be treated to beautiful stained glass designs, plasterwork, and carved ornaments in various exotic woods.
Meticulously maintained, the property today is in virtually the same condition as when it was built. While it could easily join the National Register of Historic Places, the Ingomar Club carefully guards its privacy, refusing to allow any outside influence.
Know Before You Go
The mansion is owned by a private club which does not allow tours of the residence.