the Bloss House
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Guided tours are given on the first Sunday of each month
1p.m. to 4 p.m.
Group tours may be arranged for other dates.
Information may be obtained by calling (209) 756-3331
Admission is Free
A donation is always appreciated to further the restoration.
sites of interest are Bloss Memorial Library, built in 1925 in
memory of George Thompson Bloss and now housing the Atwater Chamber
of Commerce, Bloss Park, and the Atwater Women’s Club which
was built in 1926 on land donated by Edna Thompson Bloss.
The house was built in 1914,
at the cost of $11,954, by George Stone Bloss (also known
as George Bloss Jr.) and his wife Christine. The architect
of the house was William (Bill) Bedesen, who passed away
in 1986 having attained the age of 102. The square footage,
counting enclosed porches (service porch & sleeping
porch) , but not including the open porches, is 4080 square
Jr. was a grand nephew to John Mitchell and originally arrived
in this area from Connecticut in 1884, at the age of 10
years, with his sister and parents. George Jr. was to become
the first mayor of Atwater, when the city was incorporated
in 1922. John Mitchell, whose picture is on the wall of
the first landing, arrived in this area in the early 1850’s
, buying up land at $1.00 an acre in greenbacks (paper money)
or 75 cents an acre in gold. He owned several thousand acres
in the valley, from Keyes (South of Modesto) to Herndon
(just North of Fresno). When Mitchell passed away much of
his estate went into setting up the Fin de Sicle Investment
Company, operated by three prominent Merced and Stanislaus
County families, the Bloss’s, Geer’s, and Crane’s,
who were all related to Mitchell by marriage to Mitchell’s
nieces, who were heirs to the estate. It was this company
that helped to build the communities of Atwater, Merced,
In 1957, when George Jr. originally wrote his will, he
left the house to the City of Atwater, hoping that it
would be used as a city hall, (city hall at that time
was located in the basement of the Bloss Library building
located at the corner of Cedar and Third Streets). The
library had been built by George Bloss Sr. as a memorial
to his Grandson. There was no doubt that George Jr. felt
that the house would provide suitable working space for
the city staff and be used and enjoyed by the entire community
as city hall. After his death in 1963, his wife Christine
continued to reside in the home until her death in 1971,
at which time the house became city property.
Bloss left the bulk of her estate in trust to accomplish
these scholarships. The
original furniture in the house, at Mrs. Bloss’s
death, was willed to her godchild, and namesake, Christine
Meany Ward. Mrs. Ward did return some of the Bloss possessions
to the Historical Society for preservation and maintenance
once the Society was permitted to occupy the home by the
City of Atwater.
1974, on George’s 100th birthday, the Atwater Historical
Society dedicated the monument outside the home. This
monument was designed and built by Bruce Rigan with the
help of Greg Olzack, Charles Hendricks, and Charles Shaw.
State of California and Merced County had accepted the
home to be listed by the State Historical Landmarks Division
in 1974. In 1981, the house was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places. The society was successful
in soliciting donations from the community to begin the
initial restoration and even today this is ongoing. It
is hoped that the house can be restored to a home museum
and kept for the area and future generations.
ON THE VARIOUS ROOMS IN THE HOUSE:
living room and sunroom, until 1995, were used as offices
(first by the Atwater Chamber of Commerce and then by
the city Redevelopment Agency). Both rooms have hardwood
floors and consist of 800 square feet. The porch on the
Second Street side of the home was screened in until a
few years ago and was originally adorned with large cement
planters. These two rooms were completely restored in
the spring of 2001.
the day, while he was at home, he spent much of his time
in the office discussing business and local situations
of the community with other community leaders.
living room area has a large fireplace and two sets of
French doors that exit onto the Second Street porch.
dining room, directly across the hall, is just short of
360 square feet and also has a large fireplace. It originally
had a French door that exited onto the First Street veranda,
but this area was later utilized to form the tower for
the elevator that was installed in the home. The elevator
was added when Christine’s Mother (Mrs. Thompson)
came to stay with the family.
occupied the bedroom directly above the dining room and
this helped her negotiate the upstairs and downstairs
without having to use the extensive staircase in the house.
In later years, George Jr. was able to utilize this elevator
as he had an equilibrium problem due to a physical disability.
through the dining room into the butler’s pantry
you will see a door which leads to the servant’s
quarter via a steep stairway. The cupboards in the pantry
have built-in storage on top of them and a separate sink
for doing the good dishes.
through the pantry into the kitchen you will note that
the kitchen was only updated once (possibly during the
late 40’s or early 50’s). Story has it that
after World War II, a national refrigeration company had
a contest to see who had the oldest icebox or refrigerator
in various communities. In this area the Bloss family
had the oldest one in use. The one in the kitchen at this
time is not the original appliance, but identical to it.
original refrigerator is now in the butler’s pantry).
The stove is also similar and may have been original to
the house since Mr. & Mrs. Joe Avelar donated it,
to the society. Typist Note: (This stove was from the
gardener’s house, the original stove is still in
storage in LA.) Please note, the small stove (now on the
back service porch) in the Butler’s pantry was one
that was used by Mr. Avelar to heat with and cook on in
the tank house, prior to his marriage. The tank house
is located at the Southeast corner of the home and was
used as a sort of apartment by Mr. Avelar, who was the
gardener for the family for over thirty-five years. The
gardener’s house was removed in the early 1980’s
when redevelopment put the curve in the streets from 1st
to Broadway). On the screened service porch there is a
large cooler box which in years past was used to keep
the meat cool. Meat was bought on a daily basis and kept
in the cooler box until it was cooked. The large laundry
sinks were in use by the Bloss family servants right up
to the death of Christine in 1971. Small laundry that
was done at home was washed in these sinks. The bulk of
the laundry was sent out as there were never washers or
dryers in the house.
you leave the kitchen area and go into the rear hall you
will see a half bathroom to your left. There are four
and a half baths in the home, one downstairs and four
upstairs. Going down the hall toward the front door you
will find the wide staircase to the second floor. On the
first landing you will find a window seat (a good place
for storing items) and the door to the servants quarters
which are at the top of the steep staircase from the butler’s
room at the top and right on the second landing was the
child’s room. The furniture in this room is original
(used by the Bloss family). It had been given to the Avelar’s
for their child and was used for their grandchildren.
They presented the furniture to the historical society
when the house was opened for tour. There is extensive
closet space with built in cabinets as well as another
cabinet with drawers below in this room.
guestroom was utilized by Mrs. Thompson and is presently
being used as a display area for the Yosemite Valley Model
was verified by Christine Meany Ward.) There is a complete
rail system depicting the old railroad that ran between
Merced and El Portal in the early days. It should be noted
that while the elevator does enter this room it is not
in use as it does not meet the safety requirements of
the State and was closed off. A glass door was installed
so that the elevator can be viewed downstairs in the dining
through the bathroom between the guest bedroom and the
adjoining bedroom, which was occupied by Mrs. Bloss, you
will see the old style fixtures still maintain their beauty.
porch roofs on the second floor have no access except
through the windows and were not made for use but strictly
The bedroom occupied by Christine Bloss was enjoyed by
her in later years. She would sit and admire the beautiful
garden area across the street. This property was also
owned by the Bloss family and is part of the landmark.
George’s bedroom has some of his mementos on display.
The adjoining bathroom has a unique shower, which George
had modified in later years to hold six massage showerheads
as well as the original one. It is said that he enjoyed
sitting in this shower on a wooden stool and relaxing
while the water sprayed from several different angles.
This is the sleeping porch which was primarily used during
the warmer months. They simply set up iron cots to sleep
on. It was originally screened in, however to meet state
safety standards the screen has been replaced with glass.
January 2006 the house had severe damage from water on
the ceilings and walls of the second landing as well as
the floor. This damage also affected the ceiling and walls
of the first floor entry and the dining room. All has
been restored with the exception of the dining room and
the ceiling in the train room. Our good fortune was that
during the restoration the original ceiling was replaced
on the second floor over the staircase and landings and
the light fixtures on the second floor ceiling were restored
by Gloria Lawrence of Merced. The front, West & back
porches have also been restored and the society continues
to work on the outside & inside restoration of the
September 22, 2008 Addendum: The ceilings in the train
room, Mrs. Bloss’ bedroom, Mrs. Bloss’ entire
Bathroom, and the ceiling in the dining room have now
been re-plastered and painted. November 20, 2008: The
dining room has been repainted as well as all the exterior
wood trim and doors of the house.
Historical Society, Inc. • P.O. Box 111 Atwater, CA 95301