History of the Bloss House
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Guided tours are given on the first Sunday of each month
1p.m. to 4 p.m.
Group tours may be arranged for other dates.
Information may be obtained by calling (209) 357-6309
Admission is Free
A donation is always appreciated to further the restoration.
sites of interest are Bloss Memorial Library, built in 1925 in
memory of George Thompson Bloss and now housing the Atwater Chamber
of Commerce, Bloss Park, and the Atwater Women’s Club which
was built in 1926 on land donated by Edna Thompson Bloss.
house was built in 1914, at the cost of $11,954, by George
Stone Bloss (also known as George Bloss Jr.) and his wife
Christine. The architect of the house was William (Bill)
Bedesen, who passed away in 1986 having attained the age
of 102. The square footage, counting enclosed porches (i.e.
service porch & sleeping porch) , but not including
the open porches, is 4080 square feet.
Jr. was a grand nephew to John Mitchell and originally arrived
in this area from Connecticut in 1884, at the age of 10
years, with his sister and parents. George Jr. was to become
the first mayor of Atwater, when the city was incorporated
in 1922. John Mitchell, whose picture is on the wall of
the first landing, arrived in this area in the early 1850’s
, buying up land at $1.00 an acre in greenbacks (paper money)
or 75 cents an acre in gold. He owned several thousand acres
in the valley, from Keyes (South of Modesto) to Herndon
(just North of Fresno). When Mitchell passed away much of
his estate went into setting up the Fin de Sicle Investment
Company, operated by three prominent Merced and Stanislaus
County families, the Bloss’s, Geer’s, and Crane’s,
who were all related to Mitchell by marriage to Mitchell’s
nieces, who were heirs to the estate. It was this company
that helped to build the communities of Atwater, Merced,
Bloss’s had only one child, George Thompson, who passed
away at the age of seven apparently from complications that
set in as a result of measles and being transported to San
Francisco, during the Fall of the year, in an open touring
car. (Typist Note: This cannot be true as he died in late
Spring about two months short of his 7th birthday. Not sure
where this information was obtained).
In 1957, when George Jr. originally wrote his will, he left
the house to the City of Atwater, hoping that it would be
used as a city hall, (city hall at that time was located
in the basement of the Bloss Library building located at
the corner of Cedar and Third Streets). The library had
been built by George Bloss Sr. as a memorial to his Grandson.
There was no doubt that George Jr. felt that the house would
provide suitable working space for the city staff and be
used and enjoyed by the entire community as city hall. After
his death in 1963, his wife Christine continued to reside
in the home until her death in 1971, at which time the house
became city property.
should be noted however that between the time George passed
away and Christine’s death the city fathers were
in need of larger quarters and built a new city complex
on Bellevue Rd. As a result, when this house became city
property, it was considered, by many on the council, to
be a white elephant. At that time the Atwater Historical
Society was formed and approached the city and requested
that the house be saved for the community due to its aesthetic
value, and in memory of the many contributions to the
community by the Bloss family. Just to name a few –
The Bloss Library, the Bloss Memorial Hospital, the Municipal
Plunge (which was torn down in 1983) and the many donations
of land etc. toward churches in the area. Another ongoing
gift is in the form of Bloss Scholarships (large and small)
that are given to graduating High School Seniors each
year. Christine Bloss left the bulk of her estate in trust
to accomplish these scholarships. The
original furniture in the house, at Mrs. Bloss’s
death, was willed to her godchild, and namesake, Christine
Meany Ward. Mrs. Ward did return some of the Bloss possessions
to the Historical Society for preservation and maintenance
once the Society was permitted to occupy the home by the
City of Atwater.
1974, on George’s 100th birthday, the Atwater Historical
Society dedicated the monument outside the home. This monument
was designed and built by Bruce Rigan with the help of Greg
Olzack, Charles Hendricks, and Charles Shaw.
The State of California and Merced County had accepted the
home to be listed by the State Historical Landmarks Division
in 1974. In 1981, the house was placed on the National Register
of Historic Places. The society was successful in soliciting
donations from the community to begin the initial restoration
and even today this is ongoing. It is hoped that the house
can be restored to a home museum and kept for the area and
ON THE VARIOUS ROOMS IN THE HOUSE:
living room and sunroom, until 1995, were used as offices
(first by the Atwater Chamber of Commerce and then by
the city Redevelopment Agency). Both rooms have hardwood
floors and consist of 800 square feet. The porch on the
Second Street side of the home was screened in until a
few years ago and was originally adorned with large cement
planters. These two rooms were completely restored in
the spring of 2001.
The sunroom was primarily used by Mr. Bloss as his office
Typist Note (but was also used by Mrs. Bloss to entertain
ladies for bridge, etc.). During the day, while he was
at home, he spent much of his time in the office discussing
business and local situations of the community with other
The living room area has a large fireplace and two sets
of French doors that exit onto the Second Street porch.
The dining room, directly across the hall, is just short
of 360 square feet and also has a large fireplace. It
originally had a French door that exited onto the First
Street veranda, but this area was later utilized to form
the tower for the elevator that was installed in the home.
The elevator was added when Christine’s Mother (Mrs.
Thompson) came to stay with the family (About 1952).
occupied the bedroom directly above the dining room and
this helped her negotiate the upstairs and downstairs without
having to use the extensive staircase in the house. Typist
Note: (As noted in following paragraphs we know that she
did not occupy this room). In later years, George Jr. was
able to utilize this elevator as he had an equilibrium problem
due to a physical disability.
Passing through the dining room into the butler’s
pantry you will see a door which leads to the servant’s
quarter via a steep stairway. The cupboards in the pantry
have built-in storage on top of them and a separate sink
for doing the good dishes.
Passing through the pantry into the kitchen you will note
that the kitchen was only updated once (possibly during
the late 40’s or early 50’s). (Typist Note:
The kitchen & butler’s pantry were restored in
2004-2005 with the exception of the counter top in the kitchen).
Story has it that after World War II, a national refrigeration
company had a contest to see who had the oldest icebox or
refrigerator in various communities. In this area the Bloss
family had the oldest one in use. The one in the kitchen
at this time is not the original appliance, but identical
original refrigerator is now in the butler’s pantry).
The stove is also similar and may have been original to
the house since Mr. & Mrs. Joe Avelar donated it,
to the society. Typist Note: (This stove was from the
gardener’s house, the original stove is still in
storage in LA.) Please note, the small stove (now on the
back service porch) in the Butler’s pantry was one
that was used by Mr. Avelar to heat with and cook on in
the tank house, prior to his marriage. The tank house
is located at the Southeast corner of the home and was
used as a sort of apartment by Mr. Avelar, who was the
gardener for the family for over thirty-five years. Typist
Note: (this information may not be true as the house that
the Avelar’s resided in was already built before
the main house; this house may have been used by the Bloss
family prior to the main house being built). The gardener’s
house was removed in the early 1980’s when redevelopment
put the curve in the streets from 1st to Broadway). On
the screened service porch there is a large cooler box
which in years past was used to keep the meat cool. Meat
was bought on a daily basis and kept in the cooler box
until it was cooked. The large laundry sinks were in use
by the Bloss family servants right up to the death of
Christine in 1971. Small laundry that was done at home
was washed in these sinks. The bulk of the laundry was
sent out as there were never washers or dryers in the
you leave the kitchen area and go into the rear hall you
will see a half bathroom to your left. There are four and
a half baths in the home, one downstairs and four upstairs.
Going down the hall toward the front door you will find
the wide staircase to the second floor. On the first landing
you will find a window seat (a good place for storing items)
and the door to the servants quarters which are at the top
of the steep staircase from the butler’s pantry.
The room at the top and right on the second landing was
the child’s room. The furniture in this room is original
(used by the Bloss family). It had been given to the Avelar’s
for their child and was used for their grandchildren. They
presented the furniture to the historical society when the
house was opened for tour. There is extensive closet space
with built in cabinets as well as another cabinet with drawers
below in this room.
The guestroom was utilized by Mrs. Thompson and is presently
being used as a display area for the Yosemite Valley Model
Railroad Club. Typist Note: (Mrs. Thompson used the room
that was the child’s nursery when she stayed with
the Bloss’, the room that houses the trains was a
was verified by Christine Meany Ward.) There is a complete
rail system depicting the old railroad that ran between
Merced and El Portal in the early days. It should be noted
that while the elevator does enter this room it is not
in use as it does not meet the safety requirements of
the State and was closed off. A glass door was installed
so that the elevator can be viewed downstairs in the dining
Passing through the bathroom between the guest bedroom
and the adjoining bedroom, which was occupied by Mrs.
Bloss, you will see the old style fixtures still maintain
The porch roofs on the second floor have no access except
through the windows and were not made for use but strictly
The bedroom occupied by Christine Bloss was enjoyed by
her in later years. She would sit and admire the beautiful
garden area across the street. This property was also
owned by the Bloss family and is part of the landmark.
George’s bedroom has some of his mementos on display.
The adjoining bathroom has a unique shower, which George
had modified in later years to hold six massage showerheads
as well as the original one. It is said that he enjoyed
sitting in this shower on a wooden stool and relaxing
while the water sprayed from several different angles.
The last room in the house is the sleeping porch, which
they used, in warm weather. They simply set up iron cots
to sleep on. It was originally screened in, however to
meet state safety standards the screen has been replaced
January 2006 the house had severe damage from water on
the ceilings and walls of the second landing as well as
the floor. This damage also affected the ceiling and walls
of the first floor entry and the dining room. All has
been restored with the exception of the dining room and
the ceiling in the train room. Our good fortune was that
during the restoration the original ceiling was replaced
on the second floor over the staircase and landings and
the light fixtures on the second floor ceiling were restored
by Gloria Lawrence of Merced. The front, West & back
porches have also been restored and the society continues
to work on the outside & inside restoration of the
9/22/2008 Addendum: The ceilings in the train room, Mrs.
Bloss’ bedroom, Mrs. Bloss’ entire Bathroom,
and the ceiling in the dining room have now been re-plastered
and painted. 11/20/2008: The dining room has been repainted
as well as all the exterior wood trim and doors of the
Historical Society, Inc. • P.O. Box 111 Atwater, CA 95301