Hewes home shines with historic charm

by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted courtesy of the Tustin News

Soon after their decision to live in Tustin, Mr. and Mrs. Hewes bought property to build a home at the northwest corner of Main and B, now 350 B Street.

When David Hewes and his wife, Mathilda, came to Southern California in 1881, seeking a climate more beneficial to her bronchitis than the dampness of the San Francisco Bay area, they decided to settle in Tustin.

Hewes had made a fortune as a contractor in the city of the Golden Gate and achieved recognition for contributing a golden spike for California Governor Leland Stanford to use in joining the final rails of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1869 ceremonies.

He was probably the wealthiest and most widely traveled man in Tustin at that time.

Soon after their decision to live in Tustin, Mr. and Mrs. Hewes bought property to build a home at the northwest corner of Main and B, now 350 B Street. No record remains of either the architect or the builder of the Greek Revival/Italianate house, which is constructed of redwood with square-cut handmade nails.

The entrance faces B Street with a wide wooden staircase leading to the double front doors which are accented by large plate glass windows in the top two-thirds and moulding-trimmed paneling below. A porch with turned posts and balustrade runs across the front and extends back on both sides.

An amusing story, which may or may not be true, has been told over and over through the years. It seems that after she and her husband moved into the house, Mrs. Hewes was looking forward to being able to relax, rock and enjoy the front porch, but she soon discovered that her view was impaired by Fresnickers Saloon.

After she complained to her husband, he solved the problem by buying the property occupied by the saloon and donating it to the First Presbyterian Church along with money to build a sanctuary. Today the church owns the entire block between B and C streets.

After Mrs. Hewes died in 1887, Mr. Hewes continued to live in the house for several years before returning to San Francisco and remarrying. After he left Tustin, the house had a number of tenants including Count Jaro Schmidt who lived there in 1892. Benjamin F. Beswick, superintendent of Tustin Grammar School from 1919 to 1923, bought the house in 1916 and lived there until 1945.

Beswick, who firmly believed that all his teachers should live in Tustin, enforced this theory by remodeling the second floor of the house to provide bedrooms which he rented to them.
The house continued to be a boarding house and became more and more dilapidated until the early 1950s when it was sold. The buyers, including Linda and Steve Jennings, who have lived there for a number of years, have treated the house with loving care, restoring it to its original beauty, using attention to detail as well as the best workmanship and materials.

The house is now considered a landmark with a plaque designating it as an Orange County point of historical interest.


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