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Heritage House

Heritage House

Located in Riverside, California on Magnolia Avenue, Heritage House is a 19th century home. This unique mansion was built by Catharine Bettner, the widow of James Bettner who was very prominent in the community during 1892. During this time, this home was considered to be one of the most elegant homes within Riverside. Now, it is maintained by the Riverside Municipal Museum.

Originally, James Bettner and his wife had lived in New York. James was a civil engineer and lawyer and he had suffered from a kidney illness and then had moved to southern California because of its healthy climate. They then built up a really good reputation within Riverside. James was a founding member of the Casa Blanca Tennis Club, which was the very first private recreational facility for Riverside. The oranges that Mrs. Bettner had grown had actually won awards at an exposition within New Orleans, Louisiana.

However, it was during 1888, that the happy couple’s life was ended. James died at only 45 years of age and in 1891, the youngest son of the Bettner’s had passed away from tuberculosis. Catharine had then named the family home after their son and decided to build a new home. It has been believed that she decided to build the new place to forget the sorrows that were related with the family home.

The new home was built using Queen Anne Victorian style architecture and was built on Magnolia Avenue, which was considered at the time to be the most affluent and scenic neighborhood. The structure had been designed by John Wall from Morgan & Wall Law Firm that was located in Los Angeles. The elegance of this home can only be guessed based on the report that was published within the Riverside Daily Press, which had stated that it would be one of the most elegant houses in all over Riverside.

Now, Heritage House is serving as an example as what a wealthy home during the 19th century had resembled. The Riverside Municipal Museum has restored the home to its original form and elegance. The surrounding orchards have really recreated the environment that was around during the late 1880’s for the Bettners.

Now, volunteers will often be dressed as Victorian soldiers will present parades on the property and there can even be special tours where actors are hired and dressed in 19th century attire to reenact the daily life of that time in history.

Based on former articles, moderate means for a couple in that era was between $5000 to $10,000 to build a custom home, minus the cost of the property to build on. It was during this time that Riverside was considered to have the highest per capita income in all of the United States. Citizens of Riverside were decently wealthy, due to the citrus orchards, but they were not considered to be millionaires. The net worth for Catharine Bettner during the 1890s was only $19000 and based on 2017 values it comes to around $520,000.