By Nancy Burgess
At the turn of the century, the neighborhood around the 100 block of East Carleton Street was fairly well established, with many Victorian Era homes on large lots. South Cortez and South Marina streets were both lined with homes. Judge Edmund Wells lived in a large Victorian Itanlianate home on the southeast corner of Cortez and Carleton. The Queen Anne Victorian built in 1893, by Prescott attorney John Herndon was across the intersection on the northwest corner. Another large Victorian home was on the northeast corner of Carleton and Cortez Streets. The streets were dirt, and board sidewalks and picket and wire fences and stone retaining walls lined the streets and separated one property from another.
On the northwest corner of Carleton and Marina streets were two city lots. These two lots had been part of a fairly large group of lots in this area which had been bought and sold a number of times since they were first sold in 1872. In 1888, they were separated from the other lots and sold to Catherine O. Hall for $333.00. In 1895, the property was sold to E. S. Gosney and in 1901, he sold the property to Mary G. and James H. Mills for $1,000. During this time period, a Vernacular Victorian house was built on the property, facing Carleton Street. This must have occurred during Catherine Hall's ownership as the house appears for the first time on the 1895, Sanborn Fire Insurance map, indicating that the house was completed by that year.
The house is 1-1/2 stories, a tall "T" shaped wood frame building with a cross gable roof and a dormer on the front. There is porch across the entire front and another large porch on the west side facing the alley. Typical of simple, late 19th Century Victorian homes, it has wide, horizontal tongue-and-groove siding, probably redwood, simple, tall narrow, wood frame windows and little or no ornamentation. By 1901, there was a brick garage in the rear of the property, along with a number of outbuildings which ran along the north property line. The east half of the property remained vacant, and trees, which are now mature, were planted around the house.
From 1903, until 1919, the property was owned by Robert Keating. Beginning in 1921, it was owned by Henry and Margaret McGrew. Mrs. McGrew was born in Prescott in 1868, the daughter of Adam Scott and Frances Buckman. After Mrs. McGrew's death in 1940, the property stayed in the family until 1991, passing to the children, then to the widow of one of the McGrew's sons. During this time period, the house experienced few changes. Changes which have occurred over the years include the moving of the front door, which was originally off-center to the east. Originally, there were two rooms in the front of the house and a kitchen and bedroom in the back. The upstairs was probably not originally finished, but at some point in time a stairway was added, bedrooms and bathrooms were added and the side porches were enclosed. However, the house retained its simple Victorian lines and details, including many of the interior details, and in 1998, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributor to the South Prescott Townsite Historic District. Although it is not as large, heavily detailed or elegant as its neighbors, the Wells, Herndon and Morrison houses, it is still a good example of the type of housing which was being built in Prescott in the late 19th century and gives a glimpse of the way people lived at that time. Unfortunately, the bulldozers will soon be arriving as the home is to be demolished for a new office complex. The transition of this neighborhood from residential to commercial has been occurring for many years, but this demolition will result in the loss of yet another historic home in downtown Prescott. The National Register does not provide protection for historic properties. Protection, in the form of either a re-zoning or a historic preservation overlay district, which is formed by consent of 51% of the property owners within the proposed district, would have provided some protections for this property. Sadly, it is too late, and very soon this historic home will join the list of other demolished historic properties in Prescott.
Nancy Burgess is a volunteer at the Sharlot Hall Museum. She thanks First American Title for providing ownership information.
Cut line #1: The McGrew house at 118 E. Carlton Street as it looked only a few days ago. The old house is slated for destruction and will be replaced by an office complex.
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb165f4i63). Reuse only by permission.
#2: Around 1900 the McGrew house between Cortez and Marina on Carlton was one of the most modest on the street that included both the stately Herdon and Wells' homes looking at each other across the intersection of Carlton and Cortez.