Last week, Google Maps had worked. Why not use “Street View”, I had thought, to go on a virtual road trip and draw what I saw? Although it was a decent idea, the details were vague. As it turns out, a closer look means relying on other material. A specific style of architecture, Queen Anne, has intrigued me lately. My third (yet-to-be-published) novel, IMAGE, features a mansion built along those lines. I was aware of a similar structure nearby, looked it up and roamed alongside the property via my computer screen. The grainy glimpse that I got betrayed the technology’s limitations. A little more research yielded a lot of additional history.
At the next exit up the interstate from where I live, this home is familiar to me in a different guise. It has been restored. The photograph above is spookier, though. I sketched it instead of its current, picture-perfect incarnation. What astonished me, however, was reading the National Register of Historic Places website:
“The Chavner residence was built in 1892 in the Queen Anne Style for Thomas Chavner who founded the town of Gold Hill.
Chavner, who had been born in Ireland, began accumulating land as soon as he came to the Rogue River Valley in 1856. After the discovery of the Gold Hill Lode on his property in 1859 the surrounding area became a center of interest and vitality. He built one of the first toll bridges across the Rogue River.
In 1884 Chavner and his second wife Rosa filed plat for the town of Gold Hill with the county commissioners.”
Such a peek into the past would have been impossible without digging further. The house and the town where it’s situated are linked in a way that I hadn’t realized. What else have I been missing? By the way, here’s the beauty nowadays: