Carson Block Building
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The Carson Block Building was one of Eureka's first commercial properties. This 50,000 square foot property was constructed from redwood, brick, and cast iron, with terra cotta detailing. In 2016, a major restoration was completed, which further revitalized Eureka's Old Town Historic District. The Carson Block Building received a California Preservation Foundation Design award, as well as a Governor's Award.
Backstory and Context
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Built in 1892 by the lumber magnate William Carson, the Carson Block Building was the first major commercial property in Eureka. As one of the first properties to provide professional office and retail space for rental to commercial tenants, the Carson Block Building greatly contributed to the economic vitality of Eureka's Old Town. In the 1920s a layer of white stucco was added to the exterior, obscuring the original appearance of the red brick facade. During the early twentieth century, the second and third floors of this unique property also contained the Ingomar Theater. This 837 seat theater was considered one of the most opulent theaters to be found anywhere on the West Coast. Later, the theater was removed and converted into storage space.
In 1986, the property was purchased by the Northern Californian Indian Development Council (NCIDC), as part of its broad goal to assist in the preservation of historic and archaeological sites in Eureka. In 2016, the building underwent major upgrades and a restoration of its original appearance circa 1910. To achieve this, plaster stucco and glass block were removed so that the property's original historical appearance would again be revealed. The west turret was also restored after having been removed in the 1950s in an attempt to modernize the building. The terra cotta exterior and pebbling above the third floor windows were restored on the facade, along with period-appropriate replacement windows and a new roof that was in keeping with the original look of the building circa 1910.
During this restoration, the property was also seismically upgraded with new steel framing throughout the building. A new mezzanine level was built to replace the old, while offices were renovated and the former theater area, which had previously been converted into storage rooms, was restored and newly converted into an event space once again. In addition, new heating and ventilation systems were installed, along with new electrical upgrades, new communications and data wiring systems, fire protection and sprinkler systems, as well as improvements for handicapped accessibility.
The restoration also included a return to the building's original red brick exterior. A layer of white stucco that had been added in the 1920s was removed, revealing the original red brick as well as decorative terra cotta tiling. When the historic Carson Block building had its grand reopening in 2016 following this major restoration, the North Coast Journal newspaper dubbed it "the grand ruby in Eureka's Old Town crown."
"227 F Street," Visit Eureka. Accessed March 30th 2020. https://eurekahistory.com/history_post/eurekahistory200/.
"Carson Block Building", Northern Californian Indian Development Council. Accessed March 19th 2020. https://www.ncidc.org/special-operations/carson-block-property-management.
"Carson Block Building", Page & Turnbull. Accessed March 19th 2020. https://www.page-turnbull.com/portfolio-items/carson-block-eureka/.
M., Lynette. "Old Town Eureka", Lynn's NorCal History Blog. January 6th 2016. Accessed March 19th 2020. https://lynette707.wordpress.com/tag/old-town-eureka/.
Stansberry, Linda. "The Carson Block Building: Open for Business", North Coast Journal. April 8th 2016. Accessed March 19th 2020. https://www.northcoastjournal.com/NewsBlog/archives/2016/04/08/the-carson-block-building-open-for-business.
Photographer: Ellin Beltz. Source: Public Domain
AEDC Small Business Lending
Carson Block Official Facebook Page
North Coast Journal newspaper