The Murer House
Mar 04, 2011 09:06AM
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana
Other than the quaint charm that is often appreciated in “old” Folsom, there’s little to make the house at 1125 Joe Murer Court stand out.
Except that the street is named after the man who built it – along with most of Historic Folsom – and lived there for nearly five decades. Giuseppe (Joe) Murer emigrated from Crespano del Grappa in Italy to San Francisco in 1906, just as the aftermath of the great earthquake created a huge demand for carpenters and builders. From San Francisco, Murer eventually made his way to Folsom and became the proprietor of the New Western Hotel at 703 Sutter Street, now known as the Folsom Hotel.
That was 1925, and for the next several years Murer played a central role in building Downtown Folsom. He built the gas station and garage at 701 Sutter as well as the Folsom Fire House, which still stands between the Hacienda Restaurant and American Visions Gallery. He also rebuilt 705 Sutter with the detailed inset windows still present today. In 1940, he built the Folsom Post Office at 627 Sutter and three other offices and stores along Riley Street.
Along the way, Murer served as the chief of the volunteer fire department, was a prominent member of the Knights of Phythias, and founded the Folsom Gun Club and the Folsom Marching Band, in which he played trombone. Because of his influence on the shape of Downtown Folsom, a group of volunteers successfully added the Murer (Joe’s) House to the national historic registry and is working to make it a resource for the community.
“Our goal is to protect and preserve this site while making it available to the community to understand our history, and to preserve the area’s Italian heritage,” says Cindy Baker, president of the Murer House Foundation. “This house is a way to look back and see where we came from and how we got to be where we are as a city today.” The house, which features beautiful grounds often rented by wedding photographers and bridal parties, also includes a museum and hosts a series of language, cooking and arts classes throughout the year. The foundation also hosts an annual fundraising event to celebrate Murer’s hometown, Crespano del Grappa, which became Folsom’s sister city in 2000.
Baker and the all-volunteer foundation are striving to make the Murer House and Learning Center financially self-sufficient and more available to the public. Currently the facility is only open by appointment, for classes or for small groups looking to host events on its pristine grounds. Ultimately, the goal is to have regular “public hours,” where anyone can come in to tour or view the landscaping and architecture. Until then, one of the best ways to enjoy the site is to become a foundation member or volunteer. “We always need volunteers to help with marketing, class support, Web site maintenance, marketing and other areas,” Baker says.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit murerhouse.org.