Where the Pavement Ends and the West Begins...

The Ross House
Dan and Cathy Ross
398 Townsend


 

When Dan Ross first acquired this two story house 35 years ago, he knew it was going to take a lot of work to restore its classic elegance. In perhaps the greatest testament to the efforts he and his wife have poured into the property over the decades, the house is known to most local residents today as “The Ross House” despite a history that began during Cedarville’s earliest days.

Square nails in every original section of the home confirm it was built prior to 1886 (the year nails with round heads were first manufactured). It was originally part of the Monchamps Addition and belonged to Mr. Kistler, a partner in the “Kistler General Merchandise” business housed in the Cressler Bonner Building on Main Street.

Through the years, the house changed hands several times. In 1909, it was purchased by Antone and Mary Jacobs, emigrants from France who co-owned the “Fritz and Jacobs General Merchandise” (also located in the Cressler Bonner Building). Records show the couple bought the house for a $10 gold coin. 

On August 27, 1927, Mary gave the place to her children Andrew, John, and Annie (the deed says Annie was a widow).

In 1945, Annie and her husband George Doss paid her brothers $400 each, buying out their shares for the home she lived in until 1950, the year she was again widowed.

Annie later rented it to Gail and Alice Hicks (who lived there with their four sons) before finally selling it to Mary Martin in 1954 for $4000, quite a “nice little profit” in Cathy’s estimation.

Before Dan acquired the property in 1971, it also belonged to Leslie Harden who converted the upstairs into an apartment sometime in the 1960s.

Cathy says many local residents still recall having visited the home as children, to play or to attend birthday parties. Members of the Doss family have also stopped by over the years, providing additional glimpses into the home’s history.

For example, a son of Annie’s told how his entire family was forced to leave the area during the Great Depression to search for work. So they dug out the home’s old well and hid most of their possessions down its deep shaft. When they returned some time later, everything had remained intact and safe.

By 1970, years of neglect had reduced the home to near ruin, remembers Dan. “Water damage on the upper floor had flooded the downstairs though that didn’t seem to bother the mice and birds nesting indoors”, he said. “The siding on the entire west side was rotten to the point it couldn’t be repaired, and I counted at least 14 broken windows.”

The couple has worked non-stop on the home and even a quick review of past projects is exhausting: painting the 2-story exterior four times over the years, replacing every window, gutting and modernizing the kitchen, tearing down the old garage and adding a new shop complex, sheetrocking every room (“because when the wind blew hard, we could see the wallpaper move – there was no insulation!” remembers Cathy.)

Cathy has endeavored to keep period touches as she decorated the home (which has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths).  For example, the hall and stairway wallpaper, with its large floral design, closely mimics the original paper discovered during remodeling.

Last year, Dan remodeled the back mud room, discovering in the process that it rested on a “foundation” of rotting 2X4s laid directly on the ground. As one floor rotted, subsequent owners apparently added another right on top; he tore off four in all. They also added the deck and a hot tub off the kitchen, re-roofed the house, and added an apartment east of the front entryway for Dan’s mother Bertha.

“We never get finished with projects”, said Cathy. “After every major remodeling job we say it’s the ‘last one’…then we start thinking, ‘just one more thing’!”

Despite decades of renovations and improvements to make the once abandoned house into a livable and cozy home, visitors may still glimpse some original features that hearken back to another century.

The home’s pocket doors and wood trim in the entryway are all original as is the mantle and marble surround behind the wood stove. At the top of the stairs stands a large wardrobe that was the home’s only closet when the Rosses moved in. All the 10-foot doors are original, as is the banister railing leading upstairs.

A small bathroom is now home to the home’s first kitchen’s one original cabinet. That, along with a small built-in hutch, was all the “formal” storage generations of women had for their cooking supplies!

“We have worked to make this home a comfortable place to live”, said Cathy, who reports they squeeze in 21 when all their children and grandchildren gather for holidays.

Update:
In the summer of 2008, Dan, Cathy and Bertha moved to the Chico-Dunham area where they now live in the middle of a walnut orchard. The house is currently for sale but no matter who eventually moves in to the home, it’s a good bet most locals will persist in referring to it as “The Ross House”.

 

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Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 518
Cedarville, California 96104
530-936-7822
contactsvc@surprisevalleychamber.com


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