Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The History of Giuseppe Murer
Giuseppe Murer was born in Crespano del Grappa, a small town about 40 miles outside of Venice, Italy, on November 15, 1885. At age 12, he was apprenticed to Signor Giuseppe Melchiore as an apprentice in his carpentry and cabinet-maker’s studio. In this studio, Murer mastered cabinet making and finish work.
[Image to the right: Giuseppe Murer, standing next to his cook's wife behind the Folsom Hotel, which he owned and operated; This image is the property of Cindy Baker, president, of the Murer House Foundation]
At the age of 21, Murer immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island, New York on October 6, 1906 and traveling on to San Francisco to look for work helping to rebuild the city after the 1906 earthquake. Unable to find work, he moved on to Shasta County and eventually arrived in Folsom around 1910. He became a U.S. citizen on September 10, 1910.
Murer worked at various jobs, applying his carpentry and cabinet-making skills. He built the back-bar in the Folsom Hotel which survives to this day. “Joe,” as he became known, eventually bought the Folsom Hotel and went on to design, build and operate other buildings and businesses on Sutter Street including a gas station and garage, the Folsom firehouse (which survives on the north side of the 700 block), and the old Folsom post office at 627 Sutter Street.
Joe acquired the property along Folsom Boulevard in 1921 and by 1925 had expanded his holdings to include four vacant lots and two small wood frame houses which he rented out. In 1925, Joe began building his own home, a simple but well crafted design in the Italianate style of the northern Italy of his youth. Joe was something of a renaissance man, incorporating many modern concepts into his home. The one foot thick, poured concrete walls and tiled roof kept the house comfortable on all but the hottest summer days when he would retreat to the loft room to sleep more comfortably. The house was plumbed for both hot and cold running water even though he did not install a hot water heater until the 1960s. The built-in bureau in the dining room reflects his cabinetry skills and Joe succeeded in having the sewer lines extended to his house for his new indoor plumbing. After completing the house in 1926, Joe built a garage next door to protect his race car.
Giuseppe Murer died in November 1972 at the age of 87. He is buried in St. John’s Catholic Cemetery, just across Folsom Boulevard from his home.
The Murer House will be presented to the public as a living-history museum, capturing the essence, style and charm of the house as it would have appeared in 1926. Both original and representational furnishings, interpretive text and photographs will enhance the visitors’ experience in the house. On-site programs will include Italian language, music and cooking classes, lectures, garden tours and gardening classes, temporary exhibits and a gift shop.
The formal relationship between Folsom and Crespano came together after a visiting Italian researcher, Alessandro Trojani, dropped in on Folsom – and then learned of the life of Giuseppe Murer – when he visited a Folsom History Museum exhibit on the contributions of Italians during the Gold Rush and the Murer House site. You can learn more about Trojani’s research at http://www.vps.it/california/italians-gold-rush/
In August 1999, encouraged by Trojani, a Crespano delegation including Mayor Lorenzo Capovilla and council member Michela Belo traveled to Folsom and the Murer House. They marveled at architectural touches from their hometown in Italy clearly visible in some of the buildings on Folsom’s historic Sutter Street. After tours of Intel, Kikkoman and other prominent businesses, the Crespano contingent was feted at a dinner held in Lanza’s Family Italian Restaurant on Sutter Street where Mayor Capovilla suggested that the two communities seek a long-term relationship. In June 2000, Crespano issued a formal invitation to enter into a sister relationship. Soon after, the Folsom City Council approved a proposed Declaration of Friendship to be signed in Crespano del Grappa at an official ceremony to be held September 29, 2000.
The History of Giuseppe Murer ('Italians in the Gold Rush' project; Alessandro Trojani)
Visit the Murer House, a non-profit organization in Folsom, Calfornia dedicated to protecting Giuseppe Murer's historic house and promoting Italian heritage in Folsom:
Murer House Foundation
1125 Joe Murer Court
Folsom, CA 95630