Located at the corner of Third and F streets in Old Town, Eureka, the Carson Block building was constructed in 1892 for William Carson, Eureka’s wealthiest lumber baron, and designed by architect Samuel Newsom. Described as having both Richardsonian Romanesque and Sullivanesque traits, the heavily ornamented building is a mixture of redwood, brick and tile, with heavy arches and three turrets. The three-story structure was one of the first buildings in Eureka to house professional offices and retail space. The opulent Ingomar Theatre, named for Carson’s favorite play, “Ingomar the Barbarian,” occupied the second and third floors.
After the building was sold in 1923, a hardware store was opened up on the first floor, using the theatre for a storage room. The theatre was gutted and divided in half when the building was sold again in 1958. In an attempt to ‘modernize’ the building, the center turret removed and replaced with a neon sign, and the exterior walls were covered with stucco. The original plate glass on the first-floor storefronts was replaced with glass blocks. The curved archway entrances were also removed.
The Northern California Indian Development Council, which purchased the Carson Block building in 1986, obtained public and private funding for the restoration of its historic facade. The un-reinforced masonry building was seismically retrofitted to meet Eureka’s mandatory seismic strengthening ordinance.
Spectra Company was hired to restore the historic facade of this building, including windows, architectural woodwork and stucco, as well as replicate and restore the beautiful terracotta wall tiles.
Owner: Northern California Indian Development Council
Original Architect: Samuel Newson
Architect: John Sergio Fisher & Associates, Inc.
Historic Preservation Architect: Page & Turnbull, Inc.
Structural Engineer: CYS Structural Engineers, Inc.r
General Contractor: Pacific Builders
Restoration Contractor: Spectra Company