National Register of Historic Places in San Benito County

National Register #82002244: Benjamin Wilcox House in San Juan Bautista, California 1 October 2011
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National Register #82002244
Benjamin Wilcox House
315 The Alameda
San Juan Bautista

George Chalmers designed this Gothic Revival house for Benjamin Wilcox.

Mr. Chalmers and his brother, Alec, had sailed from Boston in 1850, crossed the Isthmus of Panama and settled in California. Although Mr. Chalmers' owned a milling business in Castroville, he also designed several houses including the Marentis House.

The following narrative is excerpted from Early Days at the Mission San Juan Bautista by Isaac L. Mylar.

Benjamin Wilcox, after moving off the San Justo Rancho, purchased a plot of ten acres on the west side of the Alameda. He erected a nice house on it. The plans for this house were drawn by George Chalmers, brother of Alec Chalmers who built the Pajaro Valley National Bank building, and many other notable structures in the early days of Watsonville. Chalmers, in the construction of the house, was assisted by Wilcox' sons Edward and Sylvester Wilcox, who were carpenters. Joseph Wilcox plastered the edifice and did the inside work. The house had a cutstone foundation. As I passed this building every day going to and coming from school, I watched the progress of its construction. Little did I think, at that time, that it would play such an important part in my life. It was here, soon after the Wilcox family moved into their new home, that I saw a little girl playing around in the yard. This little girl afterwards became my wife.

Benjamin Wilcox' word was as good as his bond. There never lived a more square or more honorable gentleman. He was born in New York in 1796, and died in New York City in 1870. He died from heat prostration on a visit to New York which he made with his wife, who was afflicted with a cancer on the eye and for whom he sought treatment from a specialist. Mrs. Wilcox returned and did not die until two years later.

Time has not been kind here.

The Amberson Effect has reduced Benjamin Wilcox's "nice house on ten acres" to an island in a concrete sea at the intersection of busy Highway 156 and Salinas Road.

The Alameda is gone, the trees replaced by utility poles.

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