Grace Blair DePue House and Indian Museum (No. 1101 National Register of Historic Places)
National Register of Historic Places
In 1966, the National Register of Historic Places was established by the National Historic preservation Act. The National Register is the nation’s official list of buildings, districts, sites, structures, and objects important in American history, culture, architecture, engineering, or archaeology that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.
To be placed on the National Register, properties must meet the specified criteria. Properties must meet at least one of the following criteria to be considered eligible for listing. The criteria for listing in the National Register that are:
1.) Associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
2.) Associated with the lives of significant persons in our past; or
3.) Embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
4.) Have yielded or may be likely to yield information important in history or prehistory.
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This historic Jackson building, included as stop #43 on the Jackson Historical Walking Tour,, was built in 1872 and is a typical example of home construction in the Mother Lode in the nineteenth century.
The home is named for the third family who lived there and established the Indian Museum, the Blair family,. The Blair's moved into the house in 1900 from Oakland. The home was built by Edward Muldoon, who lived in there until gold was discovered on grazing land he owned outside of Jackson. Muldoon established the Muldoon Mining Shaft, which became famous during the 1922 Argonaut Mine Disaster when it was briefly considered an access point to save trapped miners. Muldoon was also the proprietor of Muldoon's Saloon in Jackson.
Muldoon sold the home to Isaac Peiser and his family in 1874. The Peiser's were a Jewish family from New York City and were one of many Jewish pioneers who came to the Mother Lode during the Gold Rush. The only evidence of the Jewish settlement in Jackson that remains today are the Jewish cemetery and a plaque commemorating the local Synagogue. Peiser, who became a dry goods merchant, lived in the home with his family until his death in 1877. His wife remained in the house until 1900, when it was sold to the Blair's.
The Blair's, Emily and George, moved into the house with their widowed daughter, Grace Blair DePue. Grace became a prominent business women, inheriting the Jackson Water Works from her uncle in 1924 and running the company. Grace was also known for spending time doing charitable works with the local Miwok Indians, purchasing Indian art and ware. Miwok men and women could often be found sitting in front of the Water Works building.
Grace began collecting Indian art and artifacts not just from the local Miwoks, but native items from across the globe. Her immense collection included 2,000 baskets, ornamental shells, mortars and pestles, Navajo rugs and blankets, Yuma and Hopi pottery and jars, and headdresses from Plains Indians. Grace also had in her collection thousands of items from Asian and South America. In the 1930s, Grace had a small building constructed on her property next to the house, and held her collection there. This building became the Indian Museum.
Grace was well-known in her community for being a successful business women and for her Indian Museum. She was also a bit of a recluse and was thought to be eccentric because she always seen wearing black dresses, which was apparently a striking contrast with her white hair. When Grace died in 1944, her collection in the Indian Museum was appraised at $35,500. She left no heirs to her estate, and instead willed her home and collection of Indian jewelery to a companion. The Jackson Water Works was left to two employees who were friendly and loyal to her, and willed the rest of her collection to Lowie Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkely.
The home is now a private residence, and is not open the public. However, it can be plainly seen from downtown Jackson and is an excellent example of residential Mother Lode architecture due to the porch, the double-hung shutter-trimmed windows, and the French glass doors. The home was restored in the 1980s. The structural integrity of the home and Grace DePue's place in Jackson history led to the home and the building that once housed the Indian Museum to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The home is located at 215 Court Street in downtown Jackson.
The eastern slope of Amador County begins at Kirkwood’s historic stage stop. The relatively narrow county is aligned between the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers and roughly follows an important emigrant trail route. Amador County was once a rich gold mining county, and many of the county’s towns began as gold mining camps. The largest Native American grinding stone with 1,185 mortar holes and dozens of petroglyphs is in Amador County at the Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park, which also houses the Chaw’se Regional Indian Museum. Amador County has a booming wine country with over 35 small wineries in the foothills.
Time Period Represented
Not open to the public