Originally published in 1977
Spanning 124 years, the 1853 Hiram D. Scott house has had a most interesting history. Located on Scotts Valley Drive in Scotts Valley, the house today is in the beginning stages of a major restoration project.
Hiram D. Scott, originally of Pittston, Maine, bought the 4436 78/100 acre San Augustin Rancho, today known as Scotts Valley, for $20,000 on September 9, 1850. On October 13, 1852, the ship George Raynes set sail from Boston. Its seventy- five passengers included various members of Hiram Scott's family: his father Daniel, his brothers George Edwin and Joseph Wellington, his sister Zylphia Caroline, and George's wife Anna. The party arrived in California in February of 1853.
Hiram recruited these family members in the hope that they, too, might share his beautiful San Augustin Rancho. Either Hiram built the house in late 1852 or 1853, while his family was in passage, or he built the home with their assistance after they arrived. Perhaps the men camped out on the ranch, while the women boarded in Santa Cruz, until its completion.
Certain evidence supports the claim that the Scott ranch was in active operation in 1853. George Hodgdon, a cousin of Hiram who traveled with the Scott family on the George Raynes, was employed on the ranch in 1853. And in 1905 Joseph Scott, one of Hiram's brothers, recalled the Scotts Valley of 1853 to a reporter for the Santa Cruz Surf. He remembered horses and cattle roamed wild. The Scotts corralled two hundred and fifty horses for their own. In that particular year of 1853, they harvested ten thousand bushels of wheat and barley that was sent to Santa Cruz by ox team, and then to San Francisco by ship.
The 1853 Scott house was originally a very symmetrical, New England style, Greek Revival house with an attached ell. Being from Maine, Scott constructed a home that had the comfort and conveniences of the wooden structures of his New England homeland. The mortice and tenon style of construction used in the house was abandoned in the East coast in 1840. The corner pilasters and open pedimented gable exemplify typical Greek Revival details. Native California redwood appears to be the dominant wood used in the house's construction. Hiram may have borrowed the floor plan and detailing from the popular builder's guide and house pattern books of the day. The original house consisted of a parlor, parlor bedroom, second bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and attic.
The remaining members of Hiram's family in Maine moved to Scotts Valley in 1854. In 1856 Hiram deeded the ranch to his father Daniel for $3200. When Daniel died in 1867 in Scotts Valley, the Scott children conveyed their interest to Nancy Parcher Scott, Hiram's step mother. She owned the house and ranch until 1872 when she sold it to Nahum E. Young. The Youngs occupied the house for almost twenty years.
From the time when Nahum E. Young purchased the house and eighty-five acres, to the present, nineteen transfers of ownership took place. Between 1894 and 1927 the former Scott house and ranch often sold for the recorded amounts of five and ten dollars. These unusually low sums were sometimes used to conceal the actual amount of the sale.
Mrs. Marcie Claussenius occupied the house for the longest period of time. She and her husband lived there from 1912, when her brother-in-law J. N. Frank was the owner. Mrs. Claussenius inherited the property and lived there until her death in 1968.
The Scott House was moved in 1936 from its location along the old Santa Cruz County Road, near where MacDorsa Drive is today, to its present site west one hundred yards up the hill. The widening of the Santa Cruz-Los Gatos highway, later called California Highway 17 and now Scotts Valley Drive, necessitated this move.
At present, the city of Scotts Valley owns the Scott house along with five acres of land surrounding it. This was a generous gift of Arch MacDonald and Steve Dorsa. The city then purchased an additional four plus acres as a future site for a civic center and park.
Restoration plans include the removal of all post 1853 additions, the lowering of the house on a new foundation, a new roof, electrical and plumbing repairs, and painting. Tax deductible donations are needed now to finance the restoration project. The home, when restored, will become a historical museum, library, and hall of records, and a unique landmark of early California time and heritage.
Written by Jan Bowman
Edited by Dean Bowman