Renovation Rodeo | Eau Claire
Wednesday, August 23rd 2023
Palladium presented Renovation Rodeo | Eau Claire on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, from 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Over 40 guests toured this circa-1907 property while enjoying beer from Peak Drift Brewing Company, wine courtesy of Republic National Distributing Company, and delicious food from Something Small Catering. HC Palladium Board member, Kelsey Kenney, spoke about the neighborhood and architectural merits of the home, while the property owner, Chris Bunge of Real Estate of Mind, spoke about the renovation process. This event was proudly sponsored by Courtney Miller with Coldwell Banker and Mark Tibshrany with Guild Mortgage.
Four times a year, Palladium features a property that has undergone—or is undergoing—an impressive renovation. From tiny 1940s bungalows to turn-of-the-century mansions, and everything in between, these events give you a chance to tour properties, learn about their renovation, and have a great time doing it. And they're FREE for our Palladium members!
According to Eau Claire Historic Resources Survey: In 1886, the formation of the Columbia Street Railway Company brought the horse-drawn streetcar system to Columbia. Then came the electrification of the system in 1893, which did away with horse-powered streetcars and enabled the extension of streetcar lines beyond city limits.
The first extension of Columbia’s streetcar system beyond downtown came in 1896 when businessman Frederick Hargrave Hyatt’s Eau Claire and Columbia Railroad Company extended the Main Street streetcar line about two and a half miles north of the State House to Hyatt Park. After a year of operation, “the Columbia Electric Street Railway absorbed Hyatt’s line into its system as a lease, suggesting it found the line economically advantageous, popular, or both.” In addition to its profitability, Hyatt’s streetcar line served as a “conduit” to his ambition to develop an exclusive, Whites-only suburb for Columbia’s “leading citizens,” to be known as Eau Claire (French for “clear water.”)
As it recovered from the Great Depression, Eau Claire “added about 600 new homes in the three years before World War II and had a population of around 5,000 by 1943.” After the war, the area experienced a building boom. The improvement of automobiles, roads, and highways made America’s suburbs a more attractive option for homebuyers.
Despite Hyatt’s vision of Eau Claire as a place for White elites, in 1964, desegregation of Columbia schools began, with Black children attending previously all-White schools in the Eau Claire area, including: Eau Claire High, Alcorn Junior High, Gibbes Junior High, Hyatt Park Elementary, Arden Elementary, and J.P. Thomas Elementary.
Decades later residents of the neighborhood around North Main and Eau Claire have made continuous efforts to ensure the prosperity of their communities. In Hyatt Park and Keenan Terrace, residents have focused on preserving the area’s character and protecting its economic diversity.
This beautifully crafted home was built circa 1907 by William Crary, a well-known and respected brick mason (His most famous local project was the Heath family's mansion, "Heathwood."). A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Crary arrived in Columbia several years prior to assist with building of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, with other projects, primarily institutional, following.
When the Crarys first arrived, they lived in a private home until his wife, Etta, found lots in a new subdivision of Eau Claire. According to her daughter, Ruth, Etta liked these lots because the topography was like a little mountain. This new subdivision was called Park Place, founded in 1905 (see advertisement) and was once anchored by Lake Park to the northwest and Hyatt Park, where the casino was, to the north. (see plat)
The home appears in Warner Montgomery’s Memories of Eau Claire, noted as one of only four American Shingle Homes in that suburb. Here’s a bit about the American Shingle style home:
“The Shingle style house is marked by the presence of shingles on not just the roof, but on the wall surfaces themselves. The first-floor walls may be shingled, or of stone or brick. Shingles may also cover gable ends, curving towers and porch columns. Shingle style buildings have a rather monochrome appearance since the shingles are unpainted and uniformly cover most exterior surfaces. In shape and form, the Shingle style resembles the Queen Anne style, but it lacks the abundant decorative details. Porches are expansive, often wrapping around the front and sides of the building. Roofs are generally sweeping and multi-gabled. Windows are small and multi-paned and are often grouped in pairs or triples.
This style was employed by prominent American architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. The Shingle style is sometimes referred to as an outgrowth of the Queen Anne style as influenced by the early shingled buildings of New England colonies […] The Shingle style spread throughout the country, but never became as popular or prevalent as the Queen Anne style. It remained a high-fashion, architect designed style that was seldom translated into more vernacular housing use.” – Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Crary did not build many homes, although his daughter, Ruth, indicated that he built this one. The Crarys also had a son, William Junior, as well as a live-in servant, Belle, last name unknown. The Crarys later added an additional lot to the north to ensure no house was built there. In 1940, the surrounding street names were updated: Butler became Byrd and Park became Lamar. Until recently, the house used the address 1309 Lamar, indicating an eastern-facing frontage.
Notes from the recorded oral history with daughter, Ruth Crary Miller:
William Crary primarily worked on hospitals, schools, and churches, and rarely worked on houses. When they first arrived, the Crarys lived in a private home for about 2 years (this is likely 1925 Marion mentioned before 1907 in city directories), and then Etta (wife) found lots and decided it would be their home – liked it because it was a little mountain. Those lots are mentioned below, with purchases finalized in 1913 and 1917. The home appears in Warner Montgomery’s Memories of Eau Claire, noted as one of four American Shingle Homes in that suburb.
1905: Park Place suburb surveyed (in Eau Claire). Anchored by Lake Park and Hyatt Park (where the casino was, see plat from 1905). Heavily promoted as an ideal place to live.
1913: William Crary completed purchase on the remaining lots 16-18, Block 15 in Park Place from Southern Realty and Investment Company (Deed BF 198). However, it’s likely the house was completed as early as 1907 (based on city directories), and the transfer of deed was once Crary could afford to pay off the lot. This is supported by the 1910 census, which notes that Crary owned his home.
1917: William A. Crary purchased lot 15 as an additional buffer to his house (north side) (Deed BP 580)
In 1940 street names are updated – Butler becomes Byrd, Park because Lamar. House was historically (until recently) 3709 Park/Lamar.
Our gracious hosts purchased this property a few years ago when it was abandoned and boarded up. I know it's hard to imagine this architectural gem withering away, but with the help of two ambitious owners with a dream and a 5-star restoration team they were able to bring this home back to its former glory with hints of modern updates.
The above research was compiled by members of the Palladium Board education committee. Images courtesy of Historic Columbia and Chris Bunge.
Enhance Our City
Palladium members don't just learn about Columbia's past - they have a say in its future. Our fundraising events support Historic Columbia's important preservation and advocacy work, which in turn helps preserve the charm and vitality of the city we call home.