Keeping up my tradition of periodic mini house histories, which until now I’ve written and posted directly to Facebook, I present 240 Liberty Street, Petaluma which is for sale. The listing agent is Peg King of Coldwell Banker. The current photo shown here is courtesy of Peg’s website.
A did a little sleuthing using a combination of the Sonoma County Heritage Collection http://heritage.sonomalibrary.org/digital/ (source for this 1977 photo taken by architect Dan Peterson which is included in his Petaluma Historic Resource Survey) and the Sonoma County Library’s editions of Newspapers.com and Ancestry.com, I was able to find out some information on this property’s history. I do this periodically, with varied results.
Here is what I discovered. As early as 1903, Richard and Helen Skinner were living at 240 Liberty Street. Also in residence was Helen’s mother, up until her death in 1906. Richard M. Skinner was a real estate broker.
According to an April 17, 1912, Petaluma Argus, the Skinners awarded a contract to G. H. Noble of Alameda to remodel their home on Liberty Street. Mr. Noble was a relative of Helen Skinner’s. The plan was to transform the house into a modern bungalow which would be entirely different. It would be “an ornament to the splendid locality in the hill section.” The exterior of the residence was to be finished in cement and to exemplify a “bungalow effect” which would be “rich and attractive.” The home would contain “every modern device and every sanitary provision.” The remodel might partly explain why the Sonoma County Assessor provides a construction date of 1915. An estimate based on the architectural style perhaps? I suspect if one were to deconstruct the house they would find evidence of the original Skinner residence.
In December of 1919, the completely modernized house was purchased by Lucia (aka Lulu) Chapman West. Lucia West was a widow, her husband Fred C. West having died on January 21, 1919. Side note, Chapman Lane in Petaluma is named after Lucia’s parents. For more on this see Katie Watt’s article in the Petaluma Argus-Courier, April 5, 1996 page B1. You can do this by going to the Petaluma Regional Library at 100 Fairgrounds Drive where you’ll have access to the Petaluma Argus-Courier through Newspapers.com as well as on microfilm. For digital access, you’ll need to have a library card.
As a young single woman, Lucia Chapman was a telephone operator in Vallejo and San Luis Obispo. In 1898, at the age of 29, she married W. R. Williams, a librarian for the Mercantile Library Association in San Francisco. Following the death of or divorce from W. R. Williams, I’m not sure which, Lucia married Fred C. West, an accountant for Camm & Hedges Lumber in 1909. In 1912, Mr. and Mrs. West hired Brainerd Jones to design a home for them at 627 B Street, Petaluma. But I digress, as is my habit. Back to 240 Liberty Street.
After owning 240 Liberty Street for just 10 months, Lucia West, who was living in San Francisco at the time, sold the house to J.A. Jarvis, superintendent of the Sartori Farm Company. On October 30, 1920, a reporter for the Petaluma Argus described the interior of the home as “among the most artistic in this city” and “unusually attractive and beautiful.”
Jarvis sold the house to J Roy and Nellie Butin in 1922. The Butins appear to have retained ownership of the house until 1957 when it sold by Nellie’s estate to Rebecca and Walter Wilson. That’s as far as I’ve taken the history.
At present, this 958 square foot bungalow can be yours for $699,000.
By the way, Katherine’s Local History blog was created in 2012 as a homework assignment when I was enrolled in San Jose State University’s Master in Library and Information Science program. I didn’t continue with my degree, but six years later I hope to revive the blog which needs some updating for sure. Exploring the categories and tagging feature is crucial and I could definitely benefit from an editor. Historic research is my passion, writing I do because I want to share. I like to tell people I’m a queen of the caption – that’s my comfort zone. So be kind and stay tuned!
I am perpetually impressed by the amount of good research you provide in your posts. Katherine, you are a Sonoma County jewel!