Bio-Pen Pictures

            Levi I. Goodrich was born in New York city on the first day of January, 1822, of the old Puritan stock, and able to trace his genealogy not only beyond Cromwell’s time, but even to those who had sprung from the union of the brave and gallant Charlemagne and the fair Hildegarde.  His parents died when he was very young, and his early life was spent with relatives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.  Here he obtained a common-school education, and learned the carpenter’s trade with his cousin Horace, with whom he combined afterward as the firm of Horace & Levi Goodrich, builders.  The first business venture of his own was made before he was nineteen years old, viz., the designing of the residence of E. W. B. Canning, in or near Stockbridge, about which time there occurred an incident that showed him his latent power, and directed his life’s career.  Miss Catherine M. Sedgwick, the talented author, while visiting Europe was charmed with certain styles of house architecture, which she saw during her travels.  The bay-window, especially, captivated her fancy, and on her return she determined to have one in her home in Stockbridge.  At that time there was not a bay-window, nor an architectural drawing of one, in America.  Miss Sedgwick described the window as well as she could to the superintendent of the desired improvement, who for days studied and worried over the design he was trying to make, and finally got sick without having accomplished anything.  Young Levi Goodrich, who was employed upon the building, hearing the matter discussed among the older workmen, and being a keen, close observer, began to develop ideas of his own on the subject.  Thus, when the master workman was unable to go on, he remarked to his Cousin Horace,--

            “I think if Mr. -----had done this,” explaining his plan as he spoke, “the window could be built.”

            “Levi,” replied his cousin, surprised at the exhibition of ability in this embryo architect, “could you do it?  If so, it would be a tall feather in your cap.”

            “I think I can,” was the modest buy self-reliant answer, and to work he went with the enthusiasm and perseverance of genius.

            Aided by the descriptions of Miss Sedgwick, he drew the plans (which were in his possession at the time of his death) and constructed the window to her entire satisfaction.

            “Nature designed you for an architect,” said the wise woman; “do not disappoint her; make its study your life work,” and forthwith she gave him a letter of introduction to the then well-known architect of New York, Mr. R. G. Hatfield.  With this gentleman Mr. Goodrich studied, and laid the foundation for his professional success in New York city, as elsewhere.

            In 1849, inoculated with the “gold fever,” then raging in the Eastern and Middle Atlantic States, he closed up his business and sailed from New York in the ship Loo Choo, which was bound for California via Cape Horn.  He had with him a large quantity of finished building material, which he sold at a good profit, upon arriving at San Francisco, September 16 of the same year, thereby foreshadowing the far-seeing executive and financial ability for which he was afterward so eminently distinguished.  Before he left the vessel he began the practice of his profession, being called upon to draw plans and specifications for a three-story wooden building, which was speedily erected upon the corner of Washington and Kearney Streets, the present site of the old Hall of Records.  This was the first work wrought in San Francisco by a professional architect.  After the lapse of a couple of months he came to San Jose by way of Alviso. This voyage across the bay, which required three days, was taken in a small sailing craft.  He reached San Jose, his future home, afoot, and his first work in his adopted city was the building, the following spring, of an adobe house at the junction of Santa Clara and Lightstone Streets, making the adobes from clay taken from the site of the present Auzerais House.  When the ancient juzgado (or court-house) was torn down, he constructed from the same material (adobe, of which it was composed) a large building at the northeast corner of Market and Santa Clara Streets, for John Hoppe.  During the succeeding thirty-five years, the following prominent and elegant buildings in the Garden City have sprung from his fertile brain and trained hand, viz.:  The First Presbyterian Church, a large portion of the Convent of Notre Dame, Knox Block, a large number of the public-school buildings, the court-house and county jail, the Bank of San Jose, Martin Block, the present Normal School, the University of the Pacific, and many others of equal importance, besides numerous elegant private residences both in San Jose and the surrounding country.  In fact, the reputation of Mr. Levi Goodrich as an architect of pre-eminent ability extended over this vast State, as is attested by the court-houses and jails of Monterey and San Diego Counties.  In the now flourishing capital of the latter, Horton’s Bank and the Masonic Temple were also of his designing.  As has been aptly and eloquently said, “The study of architecture with Mr. Goodrich was no bread-and-butter trade; it was a charm and fascination.

            “No poet or painter ever basked in the ideals of beauty, no singer was ever entranced by the harmonies of sound, more than he with the laws of symmetry and proportion.  To him the Corinthian capital, or Doric column, or Lombardian portico was a poem and song.  Twice he visited the Old World to drink in the genius that poised the dome of St. Peter, grained the arches of Cologne, or lifted up the spires of St. Paul.”

            In 1852 he was elected a member of the Board of Supervisors, but would consent to serve only one term.

            Two years later he married Miss Julia Peck, of San Jose, by whom he had one son, Mr. E. B. Goodrich. This young man, after a six years’ training in the Edward’s Place school, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, returned to California, entered his father’s office and studied his profession, working with his father, and finally succeeding him.

            During the interval between Mr. Levi Goodrich’s two visits to Europe, as previously mentioned, he discovered, in 1870, the valuable quality of the stone in the now famous Goodrich quarries,{see below} situated south of San Jose, on the Almaden road, which he purchased the same year.  These quarries are composed of a peculiar sandstone, which has become famous among architects for the evenness of its texture and the rich beauty of its color.  These two characteristics render it particularly valuable for ornamentation, while its durability and wonderful fire-proof qualities make it most desirable for general building purposes.  Critical analysis and comparison have been made by leading experts of Europe, who pronounce it the most valuable deposit of building stone in the world.  The supply is inexhaustible.  Among the buildings in which this stone is used in Santa Clara County, are the State Normal School, the Lick Observatory, the University of the Pacific, the new City Hall of San Jose, the Exhibition Hall of the College of Notre Dame, and the Leland Stanford University.  The quarries are represented in San Francisco in the Pioneer Building, the Union Club, the History Building, Lachmann Block, the Starr King Memorial, the Children’s Playhouse at Golden Gate Park, and many other prominent piles, including the Masonic Temple at Oakland.

            The second marriage of Mr. Goodrich, which was solemnized on the fifteenth of January, 1879, was when he wedded Mrs. Sarah F. Knox, a lady of intelligence and refinement, and one of the most distinguished women in the State.  Remarkably social in disposition, loving in heart, liberal in sentiment, and courageous in living up to her highest convictions of right and duty, this union proved a rarely happy one; and although, when contracted, each had passed what is considered the romantic period of life, their pure sentiment and loyal affection for each other proved a marriage in its most sacred sense.  For years Mrs. Goodrich has devoted her time, her money, and her social influence to the cause of equal rights for women, claiming that for them the right to use the ballot was the foundation of the justice, freedom, and dignity of citizenship so long denied them.  In this noble and heroic effort her husband ever stood by her, shoulder to shoulder, with his generous encouragement and ardent sympathy.  Nothing less could have been expected of this man, with his rugged, sincere nature, great intelligence, and poetic sensibilities. Added to his intellectual vigor, and to his integrity of purpose and action, was a heart as tender as that of a loving child, and a sunny temper whose genial rays were felt alike by friend, neighbor, and employe [sic].  His appreciation of the beautiful in fine art was akin to his love of music; he practically demonstrated the latter by his skill as a flutist.

            In 1886, full of the honors and comforts which had followed in the wake of his indefatigable zeal and labor, he retired from his profession, dividing his time between the development of his quarries and the beautiful home now so inexpressibly dear to him.

            April 2, 1887, while on a visit to San Diego with his wife, after a day of enjoyable sight-seeing, in which he, doubtless, overtaxed his vital forces, he was stricken with apoplexy while sitting beside his wife at the dining-table of the Horton House.  He was instantly removed to a bed and physicians summoned, but “the silver cord was loosened,” and in a few minutes, although surrounded by every loving care and attention, his spirit departed.  He was beloved, honored, and mourned by all within his vast circle of friends.  Verily the work of his hands praises him, and the elegance of the city of his adoption is his proudest monument!

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 225-227
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy

  Goodrich's Free-Stone Quarry- Levi Goodrich, proprietor was first opened in 1875, and is situated in Almaden township, about eight miles south from San Jose.  It covers an area of about five hundred acres, which is owned and controlled by the proprietor.  The supply is, comparatively speaking inexhaustible, and the quality, for building purposes, good.  Mr. Goodrich has worked it continuously since 1875, and the stone work for the Court House in San Jose, State Normal School, San Francisco City Hall, and Masonic Temple in Oakland, came from this quarry.  The shipping is done at San Jose, and gives employment to from fifteen to forty men.  Office, room twenty, Knox Block, San Jose.

History of Santa Clara County, California
San Francisco: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1881, 838 pgs.
s 24-243


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight