Nevada Appeal at 150: Foreman-Roberts House: Mystery remains over how historic home came to Carson City
This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.
If you have ever wondered about that yellow Victorian style home on Carson Street, here is the story:
The Foreman-Roberts house, at 1207 North Carson, is a gothic-revival style home with a little park around it. The home was built in 1865 by Solomen Foreman, a surveyor in old Washoe City, for his family. At the same time in old Washoe City, Annie and James Roberts were running a saloon and boarding house called the Lake House. It was about the time the Lake House burned that the Roberts family purchased Foreman’s house. James worked at a saloon in town and they later had boarders who stayed in the upstairs.
Washoe City had played out in about 1870 and many people were moving to where the larger populations and work were. So James Roberts got a job at the saloon across from the V&T depot and the family decided to move to Carson — and take their house with them.
It’s always been a point of conjecture as to how the house was moved to Carson City. Thurman Roberts, their youngest son, would tell a story about breaking the house in two and moving it on the V&T Railroad. The problem was that there was a tunnel at the top of the hill as you came into Carson that a house would not fit through. Thus far no one has been able to find bills of lading to prove that it came on the train. It was most likely pulled by oxen and brought into Carson City. Some of the pieces of lumber have numbers on them, so it could have been brought in pieces and put together again.
The land was leased at first, and the house placed. Later the land was purchased. The location was ideal as the property is on a fault zone, and there were artisan wells that would spring up along the fault and provide water for the family and the fruit trees that are still located there.
During the 1960s, Thurman Roberts, the last living relative, passed away. The house was already in disrepair, and getting much worse. Thurman had willed the property to the state for the children of the state, and the state later turned the property over to Carson City. The city was anxious to clear the house and use the land for a park. The lean-to kitchen was the first to go.
Concerned citizens in Carson City came together to save the house, but were told if the house wasn’t put on a foundation within a certain number of days, the house would be torn down. These concerned citizens formed an organization called Nevada Landmarks Society (now Carson City Historical Society), they organized fundraisers, wrote and sold cookbooks and did everything they could to get enough money together to pay for restoration and renovations. Local organizations provided lunches for workers, prisoners from the Nevada State Prison came in and lifted the house up off of the railroad slats that it had been set on and put in on cement foundation as it is today. The house was saved and is now a functioning part of Carson City’s history.
The family that purchased the house in Old Washoe City remained in the house from 1866 until 1969 when Thurman Roberts passed away.
James Doan and Annie Roberts had five children with them when they moved to Carson City. James worked at the Corbett saloon across from the V&T depot and later he was a guard at the state prison. Annie kept house. One of her daughters, Mary Roberts, was a school teacher in Carson City and taught at the Central School. Josie was a Secretary to Governor Sparks. She had been a school teacher at one time also. Richard Roberts served in the Spanish-American War and was stationed at Camp Clark. Thurman had a mine north of Carson and also worked on the Carson and Colorado Railway. He later married Hattie Hale, and they both lived at the Roberts House until she was killed on Carson Street.
Written by Sue Ballew
this article originally printed in the Sept. 28, 2008, Nevada Appeal.