A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
Map No. 7 of the Tamalpais Land & Water Co. (1903) shows a 2.21-acre parcel (lot 18) between the junction of Ferndale Avenue and Ridgewood Avenue and the connecting lane to the north. Today there are 9 houses on the parcel. The largest house is at 328 Ridgewood Ave.
A photo probably taken in 1904 shows that lot 18 was fenced with bushes planted along the fence. Otherwise it was a barren hillside. Steps go up the hill from a gate on Ferndale to a small house close to Ridgewood. To the right is water tower on the northwest corner of the property. In the background is the Dias ranch house further up Ridgewood.
A photo taken between 1905 and 1907 shows that the small house had been moved to a site in front of the water tower, and rotated 90 degrees. In its place is a large three story house. In the background is Mt. Tamalpais. The Tavern of Tamalpais at the end of the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” can be seen next to East Peak. A photo taken inside the house shows a wood paneled living room and a staircase to the second story – much as it looks today except that two windows are now doorways to additions on the house.
Neighbors have referred to the large house as the “Shreve Mansion.” The story is that it was built in 1904 as a summer home for the Shreve family, but after the 1906 earthquake, Shreve & Co. manufactured jewelry in the small house next door.
Census data and other records show that Léon Theuriet and his second wife, Suzanne, lived there in the 1920s. Léon was a world renowned French diamond cutter. After immigrating in 1910, he first worked for Arthur Hermès in New York and later for Shreve & Co. in San Francisco. By 1920, he owned his own jewelry manufacturing business which was located in the Phelan building. In 1917, he moved to Homestead. The small house later became Léon’s atelier where he and his employees made jewelry for sale to retailers such as Shreve & Co.
While lacking historical accuracy, the neighbors’ story about the “Shreve Mansion” has some elements of truth.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.