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The Roberts - Van Doren House
Bob & Beverly Lauderdale
405 Townsend Street, Cedarville

The Roberts - Van Doren House (click to enlarge)

Erected almost a century ago, this Victorian residence was built around a pre-existing one-room structure. Today, that original building, with its thick hollow walls, is the home's kitchen.

The home's builder, a local rancher named Barney Roberts, used native rock for the foundation, constructed the house with recycled materials, and, true to the period, included very few closets in his design. The house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The upstairs bathroom retains much of its 1920's style though the one downstairs has been recently modernized.

The Roberts family moved into to the home each winter, traveling by horseback from their ranch nine miles away. The home's location "in town" made it easier to get the children to and from school during the seasons when cold weather settled in and ranch life slowed considerably.

The original porch cover and upstairs balcony were removed at some time in the past though the cement steps leading to the front remained untouched. The current owners have faithfully reconstructed the front entry and second-floor balcony, consulting the historic photo now on display in the front parlor to ensure the addition echoes the original design. That photo, believed to have been taken soon after the house was built, reveals that Townsend Street was still a graveled road in 1906.

The Townsend House in 1906 (click to enlarge)
the Townsend housee shortly after it was built in 1906
The Van Doren Sisters (click to enlarge)
The Van Doren Sisters

While the house has had four owners, Rilla Van Doren, who lived to celebrate her hundredth birthday, is perhaps the best remembered. Mr. Van Doren bought the house as a gift for his new bride; he also owned the Cedarville garage on Main Street. Unfortunately, he died before they'd shared many years of marriage.

Rilla was soon joined in the home by her widowed sister Ollie who lived with her for more than fifty years before dying at the age of 104. Stories about the sisters and their zest for life are part of Cedarville's social history.

The current dining room once served as Rilla and Ollie's bedroom, so a picture showing the sisters in period costumes sits on the buffet. It was taken as a lark when they were in their late eighties.

During World War II, Rilla turned the home into a boarding house - hence the many interior door locks. The upstairs back bedroom served as a kitchen for the renters, while the yellow-painted front room on the lower level contained a beauty shop.

"Don and Judy Steger, owners of the home for eleven years until we purchased it in 1999, deserve credit for much of the remodeling and beautification of the home", said Beverly.

The Roberts - Van Doren Kitchen Stove (click to enlarge)

Of particular note are the home's original windows which Steger says "Are beautifully clear and still open so easily with just a touch of the hand." The home also has pocket doors which function properly despite their age. The kitchen's wood burning cook stove was purchased in Eagleville five years ago. Its markings indicate it was forged in Montana in the 1880's. The Lauderdales use it regularly for cooking.

The home's builder apparently utilized whatever fixtures and pieces he could acquire. Judy Steger says the small outbuilding "with a very peaked roof" located to the south was the original portico of the Baptist church in Lake City, the valley's oldest house of worship.

Bob and Beverly Lauderdale divide their time between Cedarville and Martinez, California. Bev is a free-lance writer and part-time teacher while Bob is a retired hospital administrator.

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Page modified: 19 Feb 2024 10:17:37 -0800

Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 518, Cedarville, California 96104

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