Love all things history? Want to know more about each building you see? You're in luck! The City of Eureka just launched a fabulous new website - www.eurekahistory.com. Check it out!
Eureka has her ‘greatest hits’ to be sure. This one is at the top of the list. The vastly ornate, over-the-top Carson Mansion is not just a visual jaw-dropper, but is arguably the most photographed Victorian home in the nation. But don’t just take a selfie with the mansion as backdrop. Really check it out. Study the columns; the balusters, balustrades, cornices and the filagree. Nothing from floor to balcony repeats itself. It’s a stunning mish-mash of Victorian design. Imagine the restless mind of it’s owner, William Carson, Eureka’s most prominent timber baron, who commissioned the work in 1866. "If I build it poorly, they would say that I am 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.
And that he did.. Four stories and all those rooms with their nooks and crannies. Good on ‘ya Mr. Carson.
Want to learn more? Click here.
Just off the bay, with wonderfully restored Victorian buildings dating from the late 1800’s housing shops, restaurants, museums and artist’s lofts, Old Town is the spiritual heart of Eureka. It wasn’t always so. With the decline of thetimber and fishing industries in the 60’s this part of Eureka fell on hard times, like a once vibrant woman now aged, sickly and alone. Down on her luck it was a neighborhood for nice people to avoid. In fact, things got so bad Eureka’s city fathers proposed the area be leveled for the re-routing of Highway 101 around downtown. “That’s it! We’ll just flatten the eye-sore all together and put in a freeway! Problem solved!” Thank goodness they all died!
At about the same time as is wont to happen when rents get real cheap, certain brave, independent, new-age types started moving in to Old Town, re-painting facades, shoring up walls, and hanging signs that read, ‘Open for Business.’ A new generation of Eureka entrepreneur and city fathers and mothers recognized the faded beauty and charm of the old girl, propped her up and fed her vitamins. The result of their vision is now proudly listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places. And lovely she is.
Located in Eureka’s historic Old Town district, the Clarke Museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and culture of Humboldt County.
Humboldt County's exciting history includes vibrant Native American cultures, Gold Rush settlement, the “Red Gold” of lumber, prosperous ranching/farming and livelihoods wrung from the sea. Through period rooms and changing exhibits, visitors can glimpse Victorian elegance, remarkable craftsmanship, and everyday work, home life and play from Humboldt’s past.
The Clarke’s Native American collection, from Northwest California tribes, is considered among the country’s largest and best. One spacious gallery is devoted to the basketry, ceremonial regalia and stone implements of the Wiyot, Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, and other area tribes.
The Clarke Museum’s home, the former Bank of Eureka building with its unusual glazed terre cotta façade, was designed by San Francisco architect Albert Pissis and built in 1912. In 1960, Eureka High School teacher Cecile Clarke purchased the building and moved in her extensive local history collection. Nealis Hall, the Native American annex, was added in 1979. The museum’s gift shop offers a unique selection of historical souvenirs, area crafts, and books on regional history
The museum is located in Old Town Eureka on the corner of 3rd and E Streets. Visit there website for more information. Fun fact! The Eureka Visitor Center is located in the front entrance of the Clarke Museum.
Architecture Walking Tour
Stroll down most streets in Eureka and you will be impressed by its various architectural styles.
Suggested walking/driving tour of the nearby neighborhoods. This walk or driving tour will give you a glimpse of houses and commercial buildings that span 1880s to 1920s. Begin by heading south on H St.,(one way street). Hillsdale Street and the surrounding neighborhoods capture some of Eureka's best preserved Victorian homes. Boasting styles of Queen Anne and Eastlake, Hillsdale Street is truly a historical site you don't want to miss. Hillsdale Street is located between 12 & 13th Streets and E & C Streets.
Can't get enough? Here's a walking tour of the historic Old Town commercial district Eureka. Established during the mid to late 1800s. Start at the Carson Mansion, then head on down 3rd Street past the white houses between K & J Sts. See article in right sidebar (Old Town Victorians - Eureka Historical Society) for history and descriptions.
See how gingerbread architecture is made.
Eric Hollenbeck, his family and staff welcome you to the Blue Ox Millworks, where Victorian craftsmanship techniques of the 1800s are utilized to produce authentic custom quality products for homes around the world. Their customers include two governors' mansions, national parks, historic cathedrals and even the President of the United States Bill Clinton.
Visitors to the Blue Ox can watch antique woodworking machinery in operation, visit a skid camp, learn about traditional boat-building, and meet the blue oxen, Babe and Blue. You can take a self-guided tour or call in advance and have one of the crew show you around.
Here's some of what you will see:
Antique woodworking machinery from the late 1800s and the early 1900s, used in the production of custom millwork in the main woodworking building, sawmill building and moulder building.
The world's largest functioning collection of human powered equipment from Barnes Manufacturing.
A blacksmith & machine shop where ornamental iron work and hardware is made.
A printshop where the Blue Ox's School's annual yearbook is run on antique letterpress machines.
A cermaic studio where local clays are used and a studio where plaster casts are made for ornamentaion.
A boat building shop - The Corrina Bella, a forty foot traditional sailing vessel, is being built as a project of the Blue Ox Community School.
Baby the famous Belgain Blue oxen.
From Fourth Street (Hwy 101South) turn right onto X Street and follow to the end. From Fifth Street (Hwy 101 North), turn left on V Street, follow down to Third or Second Street, then turn right and drive two blocks to X; turn left and follow to end.
On a bluff overlooking Humboldt Bay
Established in 1853, Fort Humboldt was only occupied by the Army for 13 years. Among the fort's early garrison was Captain Ulysses S. Grant --- later to become Civil War general and president of the United States.
At its heyday, the fort had 14 buildings all of crude plank construction, though most were plastered inside. Most original buildings are gone, but the hospital and surgeon’s quarters have been reconstructed. The fort was abandoned in 1870.
Visit the hospital building with exhibits that explain fort operation & history. Allow additional time to walk through outdoor exhibits & historic logging equipment including steam donkeys, locomotives etc. and logging museum.
Facilities and Activities:
Historic reconstruction of buildings,
Grassy bluff with picnic tables
Outdoor logging machinery displays
Logging & fort museum
Bookstore and restrooms.
On the 3rd Saturday of each month from May - September
Free "Steam UP" rides on the Bear Harbor Lumber Co., Gypsy Locomotive No. 1.
During the month of April the Fort holds Dolbeer Donkey Days -- A two day event featuring logging equipment in operation and logging skills competition.
Find out more about Humboldt County's history in the "Redwood Coast Heritage Trails" brochure. Download or contact the H.C.C.V.B. office for a copy.
South side of Eureka, CA - just off Hwy 101 on a grassy bluff overlooking Humboldt Bay & the Bayshore Mall. East on Highland Ave. 1 block.
Heading north on Hwy 101 turn right two lights past Kmart onto Highland Ave. Follow sign to the park.