Mason-Smith House

One of the most grand Queen Annes we’ve seen in Sacramento, the Mason-Smith house (not its official name that we know of, but that’s what we’re calling it) was built in 1900.

Its original owner, Fred Mason, was a German immigrant who operated a custom shirt-making business as early as 1878, and by 1882, he was running the business, then known as Sacramento Shirt Company.

In 1884, he married Caroline Nichols, a Moline Illinois native who was born to German immigrant parents.

Mason was operating Mason’s Steam Laundry by 1887, and had a towel service during the 1890s. Over this entire time period, he lived in a variety of places in town, until taking up residence in this grand palace in 1900. Sadly, he died just a year later after having surgery for stomach cancer.

Caroline continued to live here because, um, who wouldn’t? She was also listed as the co-owner of Mason’s Steam Laundry and co-owner (with her brother-in-law) of Mason’s Haberdashery. She finally retired in 1938.

Caroline was an equestrian, cocker spaniel breeder, owned one of the city’s first electric cars and was a member of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.

She died in the home in 1942, at age 84.

A few other families lived there for short time periods. Pembroke and Agnes Dyer, who were both real estate brokers, bought the house in 1948. They lived there for 15 years before 80-year-old Pembroke died. Agnes continued living there until around 1969.

At that time, William “Bill” Smith (1921-2008) and his wife, Alice, bought the home. Smith, who founded the locally popular Bill Smith Photography, came to Sacramento around 1942.

The couple had the home renovated to add new foundation, steel beam supports, updated electrical and plumbing. It was reroofed and repainted. The renovations went on for 14 years.

When Alice died in 2007, Bill put the house up for sale. He died the following year, and the house never sold. It remained in the Smith family until it was once again put up for sale in 2015.

It’s on the Sacramento Register of Cultural and Historic Resources.

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