Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living

The Bernard Peyton Mansion
by Barry Brown

Photograph of the Bernard Peyton Mansion
The Bernard Peyton Mansion
Photograph from the Peyton Family Collection

This photograph shows the House of Bernard Peyton, second Superintendent of the California Powder Works. The Santa Cruz Sentinel of November 20, 1875 reported:

Among the truly fine and costly private residences built during the past summer in Santa Cruz, none excel that recently erected west of Thompson's Flat, on the brow of the hill overlooking the California Powder Works, for the use of the Superintendent, Mr. Bernard Peyton, as a residence. We learn from Mr. John Morrow, the contractor and builder, that the house was constructed from plans furnished by Mr. Peyton, and is of the modern Italian style of architecture, closely copied from drawings of the Palation or Palazzio composition, and is one of the best arranged residences in the State built at similar cost. The plans and specifications exhibit a two-story building 37 x 44 feet, with a wing extension 17 x 34 feet on the ground floor. A piazza surrounds the front rooms with a portico supported by Corinthian arches. There are twenty rooms in all; fifteen closets, eight fireplaces with water and gas in every room. The gas is made on the premises, and the water is brought by hydraulic ram pump from a spring some distance northwest of the house. The total living area is approximately 4,400 square feet and the whole cost of the house is $20,000 [approximately $400,000 today].

The interior is hard finished throughout, and neatly painted gloss-white. The exterior is also white, making a strong contrast, in harmony with the deep green foliage of redwood, fir and pines growing in the vicinity. It is hoped that it will not be many years before numerous such will grace the fine plateau and bench land overlooking the western ocean in our own beautiful kingdom by the sea; the abode of merchant princes, mining lords and cattle grandees, escaping the sand dunes of the Bay City, Washoe zephyrs of Nevada, or burning plains of the Tulare Valley. This new residence will be occupied by Mr. Peyton and family, we are informed, as soon as the state of the weather will permit.

Bernard, his wife Estelle Tricou Hermann Peyton and their six children, lived here from 1875 to 1900 supported by six servants and one cook. All the servants were from Ireland; the cook was from China.

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