Old Glory in Grass Valley
Some houses have it all – romance, history, character and charm. A visit to Keith and Pam Jackman’s pink Victorian home takes you back to Grass Valley’s early days when gold fever still ran high – and ladies shared a pot of tea in the parlor, while chatting about their rose gardens.
Built in 1897 by Benjamin Taylor, one of Grass Valley’s first five settlers, the stately three-bedroom, three-bathroom home was a wedding gift to his daughter, Mary Jane and her husband, Herbert Barker. Situated on a third of an acre, this home is so rich in local nostalgia, it received a brass plaque for its historic value. It’s also included in the Music in the Mountains home tours.
Originally, the property featured a pear orchard and a dairy. Over the years, the home became derelict. “Before Pam and I purchased the property in 2000, it had been painstakingly restored to its glory days,” Keith explains, “however, we’ve certainly added plenty of ourselves to the mix, and it remains a work in progress. We treasure the artifacts we still find near the century-old pear trees.” Mementoes such as an 1890’s Edison light bulb, old bottles and a gold rock are displayed in the pear-themed large kitchen that also features a reproduction Elmira Stoveworks cooking unit, old-fashioned, country-style wall paper and a pantry off the kitchen. “See the wooden wall phone,” Pam points out. “It’s a turn-of-the-century original that Keith restored.” The downstairs bathroom features an original toilet a high tank and pull chain.
“We fell in love with the home the moment we saw it,” Pam says. “In fact, we bought it the next day. Living in a pink Victorian like this,” she admits, “has been a lifetime dream.” The floor plan includes a formal dining room with sliding pocket doors as well as two parlors for entertaining. The foyer is gracious and spacious, and features pictures of the home’s original residents, the Barkers, as well as traditionally framed, vintage photos of the Jackmans’ families. “Living here gives us a real sense of connection to our community and its flamboyant past,” Pam adds.
A visit back in time.
But it’s more than an old-fashioned floor plan that makes you feel as if you’re back in Victorian times. The furniture, the decorating and accessories add to its authenticity. For example, the front parlor features a refurbished Hobart Cable player piano as well as a Superphone record player. (Keith, a retired mechanical engineer, restored these too!) Hearing the scratchy 78 record play just the way it did at the turn of the century was a real treat.
The carpets, the Belgian oak China cabinets and buffet, the brocade-covered sofas and wingback chairs all recreate the splendor of “proper” Victorian decor. The doors and window frames are original wood. To achieve the fine-grain look, I am told they were painted with feathers. (Imagine finding craftsmanship with that kind of detail today!)
Climb the staircase with its original wooden banister, and you’re ready to view the upstairs bedrooms. Once again, the Jackmans’ passion for antiques and attention to detail is evident. The front bedroom, for example, features Louis XV walnut furniture. Its rich color and intricate carvings, combined with the floral fabrics and lace accessories, convince you you’re visiting another era. The upstairs bath is romantic and feminine as well Ð a style that’s always captured Pam’s imagination. A retired deputy sheriff and deputy coroner, she readily admits, “Now I can live my dream just the way I like it!”
However, this perfect pink-and-pretty home pays tribute to another aspect of our west coast American history Ð the steam strain. “Now we’re talking about MY passion,” Keith laughs. Suddenly, I was in a room that looks just like an old Southern Pacific passenger waiting room. The walls are painted Southern Pacific’s traditional golden yellow and feature paintings of vintage trains. “That wood burning stove in the corner is from a Southern Pacific caboose,” Keith tells me. Frankly, I could almost hear an approaching train blow its whistle.
Keith has built a 1 ?” scale, 6 ?” gauge ride-on model train with a Southern Pacific diesel locomotive, a riding car and a caboose.
Keith and Pam share a love of local history. In fact, they are regulars in the annual Secession Days play, ‘The Saga of Rough and Ready,’ playing colorful characters from our heady gold rush days.
Just like their home, their lives reflect the romance, history, character and charm of Victorian America. Frankly, I intend to drive by next 4th of July. I’m told the house looks an absolute picture when it’s all “gussied up” in its Independence Day splendor!
Courtney Ferguson has an insatiable curiosity about all kinds of homes – Victorian modern, classic, innovative, green and practical homes. Since she’s always on the lookout for interesting Nevada County homes, don’t be surprised if she asks you if she can write an article about your home.
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