Revelations

As expected, we found more clues about the Farm House's history once we got a closer look at its inner structure. We found several pieces of ephemera behind one of the mantelpieces. One is a card for the Pasadena Blacksmith Shop (J. A. DeHay, Prop.) at No. 48 South Broadway (now Arroyo Parkway). It advertises "general blacksmithing and wood work", with "special attention given to HORSE-SHOEING and CARRIAGE WORK". There is another business card for one W. J. Covey, "salesman of high-grade pianos represented by Fitzgerald Music and Piano Co., 113 S. Spring St., Los Angeles." It gives his residence address as Wilson Ave. and Delmar St. in Pasadena. It further advertises "satisfactory piano tuning, regulating and repairing." Mr. Covey, you're too modest. Finally, there's a nice full-color die-cut advertisement for Crown Flour that is clearly of Victorian vintage.

These items are not particularly revealing, other than to suggest that the Wilsons or perhaps some previous tenant either owned a piano or considered buying one, but as with most ephemera they do give one a taste of the way things once were. Imagine someone advertising his services as merely "satisfactory" today!

FaffendoppMore pertinent is the discovery of evidence that indicates fairly conclusively that the upstairs bathroom was plumbed some time after the house was built, as I had suspected. The adjacent picture is of the family parlor, taken from the fireplace opening. Note the darker vertical band of lath next to the door; this is where the wall was cut open to install the drainpipe leading from above. More conclusive are the savage cuts made in the floor joists to create a pathway for the pipes. If the house had been plumbed when it was built, the pipes would have been installed properly, with the framing designed to accommodate them.

There was some question in our minds whether the part of the building that housed the kitchen was built at the same time as the main structure. Our architect felt it was not, because its trim details were different from the rest of the house, and the junction of the two parts was not executed seamlessly. He had a good point; the wing did have something of a tacked-on look. Moreover, it was clear that originally the first-floor room that was converted into a bedroom had an exit to the outside, and it was plausible to imagine that this was once the only rear exit. Still, it was hard to explain the two entrances into the kitchen from the dining room and the hallway without the kitchen having always been there. 

yepWhen the kitchen wing was demolished, what was revealed indicated farily unambiguously that some structure had always been there. No vestigial exterior cladding was exposed on the common wall, and the only modification to the framing was the opening that had been made for a closet serving the first-floor bedroom. It is possible that the kitchen wing was a replacement built early in the Farm House's life for an original structure occupying the same general space, but this seems highly unlikely. The most likely explanation is simply that less care was taken in the details of the kitchen wing because it was in the rear, and out of public view. We still have not figured out the originally-intended use for the first-floor bedroom that justified its having a separate rear exit.

The most amazing discovery so far has been that our supposition that the house was framed in redwood was incorrect. The house was framed in plain old fir. This makes the lack of rot or insect damage in a house with such extensive wood-to-ground contact very hard to explain rationally. Perhaps the best explanation is simply that they don't make fir like they used to.

We also learned a bit more on the historical front. Our friend Nik is always on the lookout for any historical information concerning the Farm House and environs, and a while back he hit pay dirt: a photograph in a 1912 book taken of Pasadena looking down from Mt. Wilson in which the Farm House appears. This is the first photograph of the house that we have found from before 1985. It is hard to see the house clearly because the picture is a halftone reproduction, but there is enough detail to discern that it is indeed the Farm House, and that the kitchen wing was there by 1912 in any event. Click on the photo for a much better view of the house.



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