Sunday, November 2, 2014

The house built for Louis Schwartz

I last wrote here about the home of my 2nd great grandparents, Ferdinand and Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer.  What fun it is to see the homes our ancestors lived in and imagine what life was like for them.

So to continue on with the house theme, here is the home of another set of 2nd great grandparents, Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz. 

Schwartz House

The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, by John Leighton Chase, described the house in Santa Cruz in about 1970:  “Schwartz lived in the symmetrical clapboarded, story-and-a-half house at 222 Mission Street.  The main feature of the design is a steep central gable, containing a pedimented window inset with carving, and a crisp sawn-wood Gothic bargeboard.  The original portico has been removed.  The front door is similar to that of 207 Mission Street, and there are box cornices above the windows.”

Sounds like the house!  If you look closely at the house above, you can see Louis standing in the front behind the fence.  And I’m fairly certain the girl on the left is my great grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz Gunzendorfer. 

Schwartz House close up

Again from The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, I also learned a little bit about the two houses next door.  “214 and 218 Mission Street are two clapboarded, storey-and-a-half cottages built for Louis Schwartz in 1867.  They have Chinese-railed porches across the front and sawn-wood brackets in their gables.” 

And look at this, I have pictures of those houses, too!  I believe one or more of the three sons lived in those houses at one time.

Schwartz Tuttle Mathews House

And a close up to see Louis and the kids again.

Schwartz Tuttle Mathews House close up

This home had some special moments throughout the years, many of which I know about for certain and some that I can only assume.

In 1872, Birdie was born and since the family was living in the home at that time, I would bet she was born in that home.  Several, if not all, of the other children were also probably born in that home.

In 1880, Louis and Rebecca celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and just four years later, they held a party celebrating Birdie’s 12th birthday.

By 1888, the house was enlarged when two rooms were added.

Another anniversary party for Louis and Rebecca was held in 1890 – this time for their silver wedding anniversary.

After Louis’ death in 1893, Rebecca lived alone while the youngest children completed high school at Santa Cruz High School.  And a year later, the grand event of the marriage of Birdie Schwartz and Abraham Gunzendorfer was held.  I sure wish there were some photos of that day!

The December 29, 1895 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel describes Birdie traveling from Monterey to Santa Cruz to visit her mother.  Since my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, was born on January 20, 1896  in Santa Cruz, I like to think that Birdie was visiting while she waited for the birth of her first child and that my grandmother was also born in that home.  It seems like it would make sense that Birdie would want her mother to be with her to help.

By 1897, Rebecca had moved to Oakland and the house on Mission Street was rented and later sold. 

Fortunately, the house still stands today.  During a trip to Santa Cruz a few years ago, we were able to take a drive down busy Mission Street and so that I could see it for myself!

222 Mission Street

My mother was with us and had always remembered that there was a little studio in the back of the house where Birdie did her art work.  I wish I’d had the guts to knock on the door that day.  

Last year I finally got up my courage and sent a letter to the current occupants of the   house - imagine my surprise when an e-mail arrived from them just a few days later!  They told me that the lot had been subdivided into four smaller lots and modern homes had been built on the lots in 1990.  And, sadly, the little art studio was no longer standing.  I shared the photos above and they graciously shared some photos with me of the painting project they had recently completed.

It is so much fun to see where our ancestors lived, especially when the homes are still standing.  I still have a few more to share – stay tuned!


  1. What a beautiful house -- and the gingerbread is still there! That's amazing. I miss the grand fence posts in the modern view. And the chimneys are gone. I wish the current owners would cut back those bushes - they're hiding those lovely windows.

  2. What a beautiful home. It always makes everything so much more "real" when we can see the place where they lived and you are so fortunate that it is still standing and in such good shape. I too love the gingerbread.