A Mantel Mystery

The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.

If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or information@fentonhistorycenter.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.

Amazing finds can turn up in unexpected places. In a barn, probably tucked into a corner or under the eaves, a roll of paper was discovered and donated to the Fenton History Center. This roll of paper turned out to be many large sheets of paper with drawings on them. The paper is of poor quality, like heavy newsprint. The edges are ragged and very dirty. As the sheets were unrolled the evidence of the small critters that had inhabited the barn rolled out also. But on the sheets were drawings of fireplace mantels including some wonderful drawings of the cravings that would be made for the mantel. The drawings are probably full size for a half of the mantel assuming that the other half would be the mirror image of the drawing. The structure behind the mantel is represented in the drawings.

On each sheet is stamped “C.C. Pedersen, 519 E. Sixth St., Jamestown, N.Y.” So the search was on to find out who this person was, where he worked, where he lived and when. “Pedersen” can sometimes be spelled “Peterson” depending on who was recording the name. The city directories did yield a C.C. Peterson in 1886 who was a carver and lived at 590 E. Sixth St. The 1888 directory had C.C. Peterson, carver, 105 Winsor, bds. 519 E. Sixth St.

A little further looking identified the 105 Winsor address as the address for Breed Furniture Co. Two years later he is listed as Charles C. Peterson, carver and designer, residing at 519 E. Sixth St., but no place of employment was given. In 1892-93 he is a designer at 118 E. Second St. and living at 519 E. Sixth St. The place of employment has not been identified yet. By 1899 he is listed as an architect and furniture designer living at 519 E. Sixth St. An Ernest A. Pederson, draughtsman, lives at the same address.

Charles/Carl C. Pedersen/Peterson continues to live at 519 E. Sixth St. through 1912. After that he is at 119 Lakeview Ave. until he is no longer listed in 1924. He is listed as an architect. The 1900 Census shows that Charles came from Denmark, which explains the two different spellings of his last name and the use of Charles and Carl as his first name at different times. Men named Carl in the Scandinavian countries often became Charles in the United States, and with the heavy Swedish influence in Jamestown Pedersen was often spelled as Peterson.

Knowing all this does not narrow down the drawings. The address that is stamped on the papers was the address at which Pedersen lived from 1888 until 1912. The 1901-02 city directory is the only one that has 519 E. Sixth St. listed as a separate address from the house address which was the same. So questions remain: Did Charles Pedersen draw these designs when he worked for Breed Furniture Co. or somewhere else, or did he design these mantels for use in homes he designed as an architect? Did he ever use these designs or even carve them himself?

We do know of seven houses in Jamestown and Euclid School for which Charles was the architect and one which his son, Ernest, designed. Ernest moved to California and was a house builder/contractor. Charles and his wife, Ida, moved to California where their son was living. Charles died in 1939, and Ida died in 1932. Both are buried in Lake View Cemetery in Jamestown.

The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County’s history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.

Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.

If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.