The North Star House history
The North Star Mine, the Foote Family, and Julia Morgan...
The historic North Star House is a 10,000 square foot home designed in 1905 by the renowned California Arts and Crafts architect Julia Morgan. The House is located on a portion of the former North Star mine, a 14-acre site of spectacular Northern California landscape 1 mile from historic downtown Grass Valley. The historic North Star House was the residence of North Star Mine Superintendent Arthur De Wint Foote and his wife, author and illustrator of pioneering women in the West, Mary Hallock Foote.
The House is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic places and the orchard, gardens and lawn area have been designated as a Local Historic Landmark.The property contains three other former residences dating from as early as the mid-1870s.
Julia Morgan's North Star House design is an early example of California-vernacular Arts and Crafts style and is considered an epic achievement by the young architect. The House was Morgan's second residential commission. She went on to design Hearst Castle at San Simeon, the Alisomar Conference Center, several buildings of the University of California at Berkeley and many private estates across California. In later years, The House was used as a private boarding school, and many structural reconfigurations made at that time had a harmful impact on the original Julia Morgan design. By the early 2000's, the mansion was ready to succumb to the forces of neglect and nature.
Julia Morgan was a California native, a graduate of the University of Berkeley and the first woman to receive an architecture degree from the prestigious Ecole des Beux-Arts in Paris. Ms. Morgan was also the first woman to become a licensed architect in the state of California. The 1905 North Star House design was an early commission and is a model of Arts and Crafts design, underscoring leadership in this regional style. Morgan used local waste rock from North Star Mine and materials from site including peeled logs and redwood shingles. The homestead exemplifies how California landscape, climate and vegetation infused this master architects work.
Pioneering Woman: Mary Hallock Foote
Mary Hallock Foote’s story is that of a prominent East Coast family daughter. She weds a mining engineer whose career takes them West. Mary earned renown as a new Western writer/illustrator, chronicling frontier life for major Eastern periodicals including Scribner’s and Atlantic Monthly. Her own “reminiscences” have been published as a book, "A Victorian Gentle woman in the Far West". They offer a compelling and authentic look at the West from the perspective of its educated and family-oriented inhabitants, stories now under-told.
Wallace Stegner wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Angle of Repose" based on the Footes’ lives, encompassing the North Star House setting. Other contemporary playwrights staged a show about Stegner/Foote relationship. Foote family life is archived in numerous major libraries/universities and with the surviving Foote family, many of whom still reside within a few miles of the North Star House.
North Star Historic Conservancy
12075 Auburn Road, Grass Valley, CA 95949
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