From the moment we decided to buy this house, Steve and I felt compelled to learn more about it. The design was so different from the others in the neighborhood, that we wanted to know everything we could about the builder, architect and people who lived here. An abstract was left in a drawer so we learned that the original owner and architect was a man named Harry Rowe. He and his wife bought the land in the late 60s and construction was supposedly completed in 1973. That was about as much as we knew, however I knew not to underestimate the power of six degrees of separation.
As we were going through the moving process we talked to people about the house, its location, the unique architecture and our desire to research its history. One person thought she knew the brother of the second owner and we connected with him. Sure enough, his brother had owned the house from about 1982 to 1999. Unfortunately, shortly after moving, the brother passed away so couldn’t talk directly with him. Ted, the brother we connected with, remembered a few things, but not much as he was busy raising a family when his brother lived here. Fast forward to Monday when a friend of mine, Jeff, told me that he knew who had built the house. I told him that I knew also, but Jeff said he was in contact with the original owner’s daughter on Facebook. Of course, I got all excited and asked Jeff to have her contact me. Before I heard back from him, I got curious and looked her up on Facebook. Weird. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t figure out how I knew her. A quick email to Jeff uncovered the mystery: Susan Rowe had worked with my sister in HS, worked with Steve many years ago and had owned a pottery studio here several years ago.I actually knew her. All along the connection to the original owner of this house was just a few people away.
Steve emailed Susan who called us right away. She was so excited to know we lived in her beloved childhood home. We chatted with her and her brother, Brad, and they told us stories of how the house used to look when they lived here. Apparently, not much has changed. We still have the parquet floors, the open floor plan, the cool rocker light switches, many of the light fixtures and all the built-ins. One sad thing was that the outside of the house used to be stained redwood with orange front doors and everything has now been painted. Steve mentioned that he wanted to see the siding stripped of paint and stained so I’m willing to bet we’ll be taking it back to it’s original look sometime in the future.
Last night, Steve contacted Susan’s dad, Harry, to talk about the house with him. He not only designed it, but built it himself using only two other guys to help. All the ceilings are redwood and the floor joists are fir. He said he has some photos of the house shortly after it was completed and will gather all the information for us. I’m hoping he also has some pictures of the inside as well. He lives in Stockton and we’ve invited him to come by and see the house whenever he’s in town. Once we get some pictures, I’ll be sure to post them here.
So the history of the house is now complete and it easier to uncover than we thought. Isn’t it amazing how small the world is?