Eureka National Bank, c. 1925

Eureka National Bank, c. 1925 (Woods)

This beautiful baby still sits in downtown Eureka at 350 E Street.  It is known as the Commercial Building and has much of her architectural detail still intact.

And I, through some wonderful stroke of fortune, will now be working in this building-albeit very part time. In an office with windows.  And fresh air…  (I love my co-workers at the DA’s office and feel incredibly lucky to be there-but that doesn’t change the fact that my office is a windowless closet and I have to walk to the end of the hall  just to see if it is raining or dry.  Daylight or dark).

Our office is collaborating with a group called the Homeless Task Force (a consortium of public and private entities) and the owner of the Commercial Building is providing office space in which to work.  I will be acting as coordinator for the task force.

Once upon a time, Humboldt County residents took care of their own through the Indigent Fund, but this is a different world. During the settlement period this county was extremely isolated and I think this fostered a sense of community (among the white/non-indigenous folk, at least).  The county took care of its disadvantaged and helpless.

Today those same folks aren’t really viewed as “us”, as a collective part of our community.  When people are asked to brainstorm the problems associated with homelessness,  they talk about  the fear the homeless inspire.  The disruption to commerce and the messes they create.  All true.   But…

Isn’t the biggest problem the fact that residents of our community live without real shelter?  That men and women sit on street curbs holding up cardboard signs begging for change– for food?   

I am not naive enough to believe that the Homeless Task Force can end homelessness, but I have to believe it can make a difference.  It has to,   because no Humboldt County family should be forced to sleep under the bush at the marsh.  No man should be so compromised, or hungry,  that he stands on the sidewalk asking strangers for their restaurant  leftovers.  No woman should be forced to sell her body (the only thing of worth she feels she possesses) to get shelter for a night.  Not in our community.  Not anywhere.

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6 Responses to Eureka National Bank, c. 1925

  1. Fred Mangels says:

    I believe Health and Human Services accounts for over half the local government spending in Humboldt County.

    • Lynette M says:

      I’m not sure on the figures, but one of the first steps in this project is simply to inventory all the existing services provided by the county and others.
      There are a lot of resources already out there, but if folks don’t know about them, they can’t take advantage and access the help they need.
      I know DHHS has a ton of responsiblities in the county, so your percentage wouldn’t surprise me.

  2. Ross Rowley says:

    I love that building. The marble(?) steps are to die for. One of the nicest buildings of that era still in great shape.

    • Lynette M says:

      Yes.
      I had actually sort of hoped to reduce my hours a bit with the new fiscal year but that’s not happening. My daughter says the universe is letting me work in that building to help make up for it. I have to work, but I get to do it there… (at least part of the time).

      It is truly beautiful.

  3. skippy says:

    The Commercial Building is a real beauty, a charming gem of gems. A Eureka favorite with all the appealing craftsmanship of its day yet seemingly lost in time over the years.

    Around 20 years ago it was for sale– for a most reasonable $350k, with the earthquake retrofitting done and including the parking lot. The rents were very reasonable. I remember it having an elevator attendant. The elevator, marble lobby, stairwells, bathrooms, offices, woodwork, tile, and the history– what wasn’t there to like?

    Another rare delight? Go out to the roof and take in the view.

    One time, yours truly was exploring the peaceful old place on a rainy day. Coming across the Otis Elevator office, I wondered just how busy that could be? After all, Humboldt only had 5 or 6 elevators for the entire County. The door was ajar so I quietly peeked in…

    Shhh… Sitting in the chair and sprawled across the desk, the Otis Elevator guy was sound asleep. Snoozing. Out like a light. Zzzz… Looking like the Maytag repairman with nothing to do.

    He may still be there.

    • Lynette M says:

      Tried the roof and had no luck. Hopefully Nick will rectify that soon.
      It is a lovely, lovely place.

      Though alas no elevator attendant that I have ever seen. Fortunately the contraption is not complicated and I can operated it without one–and I like to take those lovely marble stairs.

      Another beautiful building, though I haven’t explored it recently, is the old post office/courthouse downtown. A big brick building with marble in the lobby. We do have some treasures here, don’t we?

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