Monday, September 5, 2016

Money Money Money .....

How did you make money in the days when Astoria was just being settled?  You were a ship's Captain named George who sailed around the horn to San Francisco, continuing on to Astoria where he dabbled in coastal trading.  
From there, he went into the Bar Harbor Piloting business, even though the first ship he tried to save disappeared beneath the waves.  He was regaled as a hero anyway.  Between that, real estate and building businesses for trading goods on the side, he became Astoria's wealthiest man.  Over the years, he amassed a fortune estimated to be around $750,000 upon his death in 1893.  In 1854 at 30 years of age, he married 14 ... yes, 14 year old Mary Boelling.  Together they had three children.  

He built this retirement home for an estimated cost of $36,000 in 1886 when a normal upper crust house ran around $10,000.  With 11,600 square feet, he had plenty of room to wander.  Their daughters, Nellie and Katie never married.  Both lived in the house until Nellie passed away while on a trip to New York and Katie died in her bed at home, at which time she left everything to her brother's daughter Patricia.  
I can't imagine why she wouldn't want to keep the home, but Patricia cleaned it out and donated it to the City, who eventually had to give it back due to monetary concerns.  Eventually it was given to the Clatsop County Historical Society who maintains it today.  

The green lift on the left at the back of the house was being used by the painting crew to scape, sand and repaint the exterior.  Twenty years ago that was done at a cost of $127,000.  You can imagine what that might be costing today!
This is the Captain who only lived in the house for seven years before his death.  Truth be told, his family probably spent more time in San Francisco than they did in Astoria.  On one trip, the girls were not happy to have experienced the 1906 Earthquake while staying at the Occidental Hotel, one of the few that remained standing.  Katie wrote a long letter about the earthquake, which can be read in the Carriage House.
Quite the travelers, they went around the world collecting things for the home.  When Granddaughter Patricia finally donated the home to the historical society, she returned many of the items that belonged to the family.
Very modern for it's time, this home had running water, wall to wall carpet, gas lighting, indoor plumbing and a central heating system (a huge fireplace in the basement that burned four foot long logs) not to mention six fireplaces throughout the building.  Most of the carpet has been removed and replaced with rugs.
The girls were accomplished in piano and vocals, giving concerts to not only the local church members, but groups overseas in London.  The son George Conrad never lived in this house, as he was already married and had his own when this was built.
The fireplaces are fabulous, surrounded by beautiful tiles from around the world, this one actually costing a grand total of $115.   Each one has a highly decorated surround INSIDE the fireplace too, where the coal burner is placed.  Being a Bar Pilot Captain, George had access to all the coal used by the ships as ballast, which he bought for pennies on the dollar to heat his home.
This is Katie's room where she passed away.  Not a big bedchamber, she was happy to have her own room and closet with all three coat hooks to herself.  She had to share a washstand in between this and her sister's room.
This is a picture of her fireplace in 1900 ... the same one you see above, but with no mirror.  It was about here that I got in trouble.  I wasn't TRYING to be a problem, I just asked a couple of questions. The docent asked if I watched the video.  If not,  I SHOULD have watched the video in the Carriage House where you purchase tickets to enter for a self tour.  $6.00 adults ... $5.00 for seniors.
I wanted to get as many images as I could before people arrived, so I skipped the video.  I tried to explain my reasoning, but was highly chastised for my lack of knowledge, making the docent answer questions.  I thought that's what they were there for.  "Well then, you must NOT have read the cards in every room, explaining things".  Well yes, I did, but there were so MANY!!  Be quiet Nancy, just be quiet!!  Everyone that came in the door heard the same question ... did you watch the video?  She gushed loudly over everyone that did, I think for my benefit.

So whatever you do, when you visit this amazing, beautiful, spectacular home ... stay in the Carriage House for 20 minutes and WATCH THE VIDEO!!  Do take time to walk around the garden and check out the original Ginkgo tree, the original pear tree that now feeds the deer (watch where you step) and the Giant Sequoia at over 127 years of age.  If you look close in the first picture above, on the right hand side next to the house you will see Louis Schultz, the gardener who planted the entire yard.  They could use another Louis.

There were too many pictures to post them all at once.  Tomorrow I'll finish up the tour.  Today I'm off for a few more kite flying lessons.  So far the wind and weather has been spectacular!!


  1. would you please post the video before the blog narration

    You should have checked out the carriage house you probably would've found the Munsters car in there

  2. Isn't this house gorgeous!! Did you see in the carriage house, the cross stitch that was hanging on the was in the area where you're suppose to watch the Don't worry, we didn't watch the video either.

    Liz-Boise, ID

  3. I don't remember watching a video when we visited.

  4. HaHa I've been in that house so many times and never have watched the video.....