The Original Zanone House at 1646 G Street

In February of 1999 Betty Kuhnel decided to purchase the property and house at 1646 G Street with the intent of making this her home.  The adjacent vacant lands were then combined with the property at 1604 G Street, and 1534 G Street for landscaping purposes.  The details of this project are covered in a separate section on this website under the subject heading The Zanone Park and Gardens Project

Research into this house showed that this was owned by Domingo and Magdalena Zanone.  The Zanones owned about 5000 acres of land near Petrolia, CA on the coast just south of Capetown where they raised cattle.  This property stretched for about 7 miles along the coast, and about 3000 of these acres are still owned and ranched by descendents of the original Zanones. 

The Eureka house appeared to be a "town house" for the Zanones, who had a large farm house on the coast property.  This coastal home was unfortunately destroyed in the big 1995 earthquake that devastated much of that area.   In 1901 Domingo died, and his widow Magdalena built the new home at 1604 G Street in 1908.  From 1910 through 1912 the Eureka City Directory shows the home was occupied by Selby Maloy, who was the contractor who built the 1604 G Street house

From the point on the house seemed to pretty much stay the same.  During the 1950s superficial remodeling was done, a couple of ceilings were lowered, and paneling placed on most of the walls. It was in this condition that it was found in early 1999 when Betty purchased it.

Penny Eskra, the designer that helped with the 1604 G Street restoration was retained to advise Betty on what to do with the house.  The first step was to do research, both historical and on-site.  So while Melanie worked on looking up the history at the courthouse, library, and historical society, Ron, his son Josh, and Ron's brother Rick started painstaking demolition of the more recent additions (raised ceilings, paneling, sheetrock, and so on), documenting each step and photographing the details as the emerged. It was a fascinating process.  As layer after layer was removed, it became apparent that originally this had been a two story home.  The original stairway opening was still in place above the ceiling.  Based on the evidence it appeared quite likely there had been a fire that damaged or destroyed the upper story and rather than rebuild that story, the dwelling was then turned into a one story cottage. In 1915 Magdalena took out a permit to do $500 in improvements to the property, which was quite a bit of money at that time.   During this period, the home was being lived in by the contractor who had constructed the house at 1604 G Street, Selby Maloy, so we assume he did the work.  Walls were moved, a bathroom was installed (the assumption is that there was no indoor plumbing before that date), and the stairway to the second story was removed. 

When demolition was complete, Penny drew plans for the renovation.  Dane Cowan and Sons, a Ferndale contractor who also teaches historic preservation classes at the College of the Redwoods  was retained as the general contractor.  This has turned out to be quite a project.  The floor plan was returned to the 1880 configuration.  All infrastructure elements were totally replaced, including the foundation, electrical, plumbing, heating, roof, wooden rain gutters, and outside decking.   Retained were the original windows, interior doors, walls, and sub-floor.   Work was done to Secretary of the Interior standards for Historic Renovation whenever possible, and original materials re-used whenever feasible.  A new fireplace was constructed using the original tile, along with a new bathroom and kitchen.  The deck was in a hopeless state of deterioration, so a  large, beautiful new deck was built with mahogany decking.    Interior details are being constructed to look much like they would have been in 1880-1915, including wooden counter-tops in both the kitchen and service porch.

The overall results are simply stunning.  The twelve foot ceilings give the rooms a very spacious feel, and the refinished woods give the house a very period feeling.  As reproduction wall-papers are added the home will eventually look quite similar inside to the way it did when Domingo and  Magdalena Zanone lived there with their seven children.  

The house is due to be furnished and occupied at about the end of April 2002.   Some photos of the renovation were taken and can be seen by clicking here.

---Ron Kuhnel,
    April 2002