Door to the past |

Door to the past

Cory McConnell
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Patrick Welch, left, and Jim DeMagistris look through the door on Friday they spent about 100 hours making for the Roberts House Museum.

The owners of one of Carson City’s most-storied historical homes are ready to unveil another in a line of projects to restore the 19th century house-turned-museum to its original state.

The Roberts House, or the Foreman-Roberts House, once boasted a front door of glass and stained glass on the transom above. That door had long since been replaced with something more modern and less extravagant, but an old picture and original doors on the home’s south side gave woodworker Jim DeMagistris enough of an idea to recreate the long lost portal.

“Those are the projects, the old details, we like to do most,” DeMagistris, of Woodworking Specialties, said. “We take projects most people step away from.”

The work was immeasurably more intricate that just building a new door, and it was paid for with a grant of more than $9,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office.

The original doors on the south side, which betrayed the secret of specific colors that a 127-year-old black and white photograph could not reveal, are set to be repaired and restored soon as well, according to Susan Ballew of the Carson City Historical Society.

The historic home is one of the city’s favorite reminders of the past, with a little embellishment that has been cause for wonder and awe, until State Archivist Guy Rocha helped historian Jack Gibson discover another piece of the home’s true past earlier this summer.

Local legend maintained the Roberts House had been cut into four sections and moved from Washoe City to Carson City aboard the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, a crooked line with tunnels barely wide enough for the train itself. Rocha found no evidence of such a move among the preserved bills for freight.

It was more common for houses to be moved on rollers made of logs.

The house was originally built sometime in the early 1860s, not by Roberts, but by Solomon W. Foreman – hence the official Foreman-Roberts House name. By 1874, the house belonged to Roberts, who had had it moved to Carson City.

It’s no longer just a residence, but a museum, preserved to keep some of the town’s past character on display well into the future.

Roberts House officials will hold a dedication ceremony of the new door at 7:15 p.m. Monday. The house is located at 1217 N. Carson St.

— Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.

If you go

What: Dedication of the Roberts House replica door

Where: The Roberts House, 1217 N. Carson St.

When: 7:15 p.m. Monday