Blue House

The building located at 2261 Center Street between the Cambria Historical Museum and the “Bucket of Blood Saloon” building is known by locals as “The Blue House”. In the past it has also been called ”The Mushroom House” or “The Maggetti House”. This house has a rather interesting history.

A man by the name of James Erdman bought this property from George Proctor and George Davis in 1871 and built the house on it sometime before 1876 when a series of sales occurred in rapid succession ending with the purchase by Louis Maggetti in 1894. Maggetti, a pioneer resident of Cambria, was born in Switzerland in 1864. In 1887 he married Lala (Lyla) Galbraith and they had seven children. One of these children, Cecelia, died of pneumonia contracted after spending the night outside during the great Cambria fire of 1889.

The Maggettis moved into the blue house in 1894 and the upper story was added in 1900 to house the six remaining children. Since only the children lived upstairs, the stairway was made less than two feet wide! Lala Maggetti died of tuberculosis in 1901 and Agnes Irene, the oldest of the children at age 13, took over the job of raising her younger siblings with the help of her maternal grandmother, Maria Galbraith.

The Blue House

In 1910 Agnes Irene married Joaquin (Jack) Modesto Soto and they had four children: Margaret, Joaquin Yrculano (Pico), Lila (named for her grandmother Lala), and Betty. Joaquin was a butcher and owned the market today called “Soto’s”.

Louis Maggetti died in 1935 and his daughter, Phoebe Maggetti Storni, inherited the house. Sometime in the late 1930s, she rented the house to Rocco Rava and his wife Elvira Bianchini. Rava. Rocco lived in the house for nearly forty years.

Rocco came to Cambria in the early 1900s and worked as a dairyman and mushroom expert and exporter. He was well known for his method of drying and preserving pine mushrooms which he exported to restaurants in San Francisco. He would gather King Boletus mushrooms in the local forest, slice them, place them on screens, and line them up on the fence to dry. This explains why the “Blue House” was previously know as “The Mushroom House”. Elvira passed away in 1956 and Rocco passed away in 1975. Both are buried in the Old Santa Rosa Cemetery.

After Rocco’s death some people in Cambria wanted to tear the house down to build a parking lot. However, Phoebe Maggetti Storni sold the house to Marjorie Delyser who was born in Cambria. Marjorie’s family had once lived on Burton Drive in downtown Cambria and she was very anxious own a house in East Village. She paid around $7000 for the house but it was in such poor condition that it took another $7000 to restore it. When the renovation was complete in 1976, Marjorie began renting the house. Her renters have included Rick McWilliams who ran an answering service and local telephone service company called The Cambria Communications Center, Sharon Lovejoy and Jeff Prostovich (past owners of Heart’s Ease), Keith and Carol Stuart (local real estate agents), Dennis Sumrow owner of Art Expressions Gallery & Studio and Linda Findlay, owner of ECR Gallery, who rented the house through the end of 2010.

12 Responses to “Blue House”

  1. B&J says:

    Aaron:

    We would love to have a copy of the death certificate. Can you send it to us? These documents often contain interesting information.

    B&J

  2. B&J says:

    Bev and Jerry,

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me! It’s amazing looking back on my family history. I had no idea until a year ago when my dad showed me the death certificate that he still has of my Great Great Grandfather, Louis Maggetti. It was then that I cross referenced his date of birth along with his wife and children’s names and found out he was in fact a family member. I would love the opportunity to purchase the family house but unfortunately, I just bought a home in Lincoln, California and would not have the finances to make this purchase. Hopefully one day I can buy this home and keep it in the family, I think it would be great for the history of Cambria. I just returned from a vacation at the Fog Catcher Inn and absolutely loved the town of Cambria. I have every intention of retiring there one day. I hope to keep in contact with you.

    Aaron Maggetti

  3. B&J says:

    Aaron:

    We hope this article helps put some of the Maggetti descendants in touch with each other. Keep us posted.

    By the way, the house is currently occupied by Hidden Gate Antiques but the building is for sale. John Dunn of Gold Coast Realty is the agent and the asking price is $330,000.

    Any interest?

    B&J

  4. I’m sure I don’t need to explain my connection to Louis but it’s interesting to know I have some family that has been commenting above. Please contact me at aaronmaggetti@gmail.com

  5. B&J says:

    Mandi:

    Thanks for your comment about Joaquin Soto. It’s always nice to hear from someone who appreciates what we are doing.

  6. Mandi Williams Cardona says:

    I am so happy that this Information is Published and I wish there was more on Jaquin Modesto Soto and Agnes Irene Soto, They were my great grandparents. My Grandmother is Betty Williams formerly Betty Soto, and I believe I was in a newspaper article in Cambria for being the first Williams baby born.

  7. B&J says:

    Terry:

    While the “Blue House” is still empty, only the rental agent can answer your questions. That would be:

    Quality Management Services
    Brenda Steeb
    816 Main Street, Suite G-1
    Cambria, CA 93428
    (805) 927-2953
    qualitym@inreach.com

    No matter whether you can rent the “Blue House” or not, you’re right that you would have a great time!

  8. Terry says:

    Hello B&J:
    Is the house still available to rent? Is is only commercial space? Could it be rented for a holiday? My sister is the curator of the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at UC Santa Cruz, I live on Long Island, NY and visit yearly. We have often talked of coming down to San Luis for a visit, I think we would have a great time. I haven’t been there since I was about 10 years old. Thanks for the information.

  9. B&J says:

    Kristi:

    It’s always nice to hear from someone whose family we have written about. Since the first of the year, the house has been empty as the ECR Gallery went out of business then. So, you can’t go in it at present until someone else rents it.

    B&J

  10. Kristi says:

    Great article. I came upon it while doing family history, I am one of the great-great granddaughters of Louis Maggetti. My great grandfather was his youngest son Louis. I had know idea this place existed, I hope to visit someday.

  11. B&J says:

    Terry:

    Glad you liked the article. By the way, ECR Gallery is moving out of the “Blue House” this month so it’s available to rent. Interested?

    B&J

  12. terry pope freas says:

    This is great information to read. I am one of the great granddaugthers of Louis Maggetti, by way of my grandmother, his daughter Ann Louise Maggetti Silliman.

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