Bio- Coast Counties

Endowed by nature with great mechanical skill and ingenuity, and with eminent artistic ability, Levi Goodrich, late of San Jose, was for many years the leading architect and builder of the Pacific coast region.  An earnest and faithful follower of his profession he took great pride and pleasure in his work, and while advancing his own material interest was a dominate factor in the upbuilding of many of the larger towns and cities of this section of the state.  The architectural beauty and ornamentation of many of its counties are due to his cunning hand, well-trained eye, and fertile brain.  More special mention may be made of Santa Clara, Monterey and San Diego counties, in the latter two of which he erected the court houses and jails, while in the city of San Diego he made the designs for the Masonic Temple and Horton's Bank building.  In San Jose, he erected many of the more beautiful and costly private residences, and a large number of the prominent public buildings, including the following named: The First Presbyterian Church, Knox block, the State Normal School building, the University of the Pacific, Martin block, the San Jose Bank building, many of the public school buildings, the court house and county jail, and the convent of Notre Dame.

The descendant of one of the earliest and most honored Puritan families of New England, Levi Goodrich was of English ancestry, and traced his lineage back beyond the time of Oliver Cromwell, even to the brave Charlemagne.  He was a lineal descendant of Captain David Goodrich of French and Indian war fame.  A native of New York City, he was born January 1, 1822.  Left an orphan in early childhood, he was brought up and educated in Massachusetts, among the picturesque Berkshire mountains, spending his early years in Stockbridge, wit relatives.  Under the instruction of his cousin, Horace Goodrich, he learned the carpenter's trade and after completing his apprenticeship became junior member of the firm of Horace & Levi Goodrich, architects and builders.  His first work of importance, finished before he was nineteen years old, was the drawing of his designs for the imposing resident of E. W. B. Canning, in Berkshire county, Mass.  At that time, before there was representation of one in America, Mr. Goodrich was brought in to prominent notice by being enabled, solely by the descriptions of Catherine Sedgwick, a talented authoress of that day, who had recently returned from a European trip, where she had seen and admired the bay-windows that were so frequently seen abroad, to design and construct a bay-window for the new residence of Miss Sedgwick, on which he was then working.  This task was studied over and given up by the superintendent of the building, and by the older workmen, as an impossibility, and its accomplishment was a great victory for the hitherto almost unknown young architect.  Miss Sedgwick was so much pleased and gratified with the work that she gave Mr. Goodrich a letter of introduction to R G Hatfiled, a prominent architect of New York City, who at once admitted the youth to his office, where he gave him a thorough course of instruction in his chosen profession.  Mr Goodrich subsequently met with excellent success as an architect and builder, being kept busily employed in New York and New England.

In 1849, with the courage and enterprise of the brave youths of his generation, Mr. Goodrich came by way of Cape Horn to California, and  with true Yankee thrift and foresight brought with him a quantity of finished building material, which, after his arrival in San Francisco, September 16, 1849, he sold at a large profit.  Immediately beginning the practice of his profession, he drew the plans for a large wooden building on which was erected on the site of the old Hall of Records, on the corner of Washington and Kearney streets.  Locating in San Jose in the closing months of 1849, he subsequently became the foremost architect and builder of this section of the state.  In the spring of 1850 Mr. Goodrich built an adobe house at the corner of Market and Santa Clara streets, making the adobes from the clay taken from the spot on which the Auzerais House now stands, and on the site of the original juzgado, or court house, bullt an adobe house fo John Hoppe.  For thirty-six consecutive years Mr. Goodrich here followed his profession, erecting, as before mentioed, many of the more prominent residences and buildings of this and adjacent counties, continuing thus actrively engaged until 1886, when he retired from his professional labors.  He was thereafter employed in the development of his valuable quarries, located on the Almaden road, south of San Jose.  The sandstone taken from these quarries was of a peculiarly smooth tecture and rich color, and so durable and so near fireproof as to make it especially desirable for building purposes, and is to be found in many of the buildings of Santa Clara and near-by counties, the State Normal School, Lick Observatory, San Jose city hall, the University of the Pacific, and Leland Stanford University, exclusively used this stone; the Pioneer, History and Union Club buildings of San Francisco, the children's playhouse at Golden Gate Park, and other buildings of San Francisco and Oakland are also constructed of this material, the number being too numerous to mention.  Mr. Goodrich was elected supervisor in 1852 and served one term, but declined a re-election.

In 1854, in San Jose, Mr. Goodrich married Julia Peck, a daughter of Judge Peck, and of their union one child was born, namely: Edwin B Goodrich, who was killed by a street car accident on the Alum Rock Railroad in the summer of 1903.  Mr. goodrich married for his second wife, January 15, 1879, Mrs. Sarah I. Knox, widow of Dr. William James Knox, of whom a sketch may be found elsewhere in this biographical work.  After retiring from business Mr. Goodrich did not live very long, his death occuring April 2, 1887, at the Horton House, in San Diego, where he and Mrs. Goodrich were visiting.  While sitting at the dining table beside his wife, he was stricken with apoplexy and died in a short time.

History of the State of California of Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California- Guinn, 1904, page  297
transcribed by cdf