San Mateo County History

Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula
Theron G. Cady
A series of articles first published in 'Peninsula Life Magazine'
Published by C-T Publishers, San Carlos, California, 1948

The Canada Road Pioneer House

        A short distance northward on Canada Road leading out of the historical old town of Woodside, stands a two-story white frame house with three gables.  For sixty-five years this old house has stood facing the hills over which Portola and his party traveled years ago.  During these years it has seen many changes come to the valley and the green hills in the distance.  It has seen the giant redwoods disappear and heard the sound of the hame bells of the "bell teams" gradually swell into the maddening roar of motor cars.
      At first the house, built in 1882, towered majestically over the countryside but as time wore on it, too, gradually faded until it stood roofless and at a rakish angle.  The floors, worn smooth at the thresholds, buckled in the middle and sagged drunkenly at the corners.  The porch, partly torn off, leaned crazily against the house for support and the ornate scroll-work along the roof hung precariously.  The whole place was in decay, slowly bowing to the harsh demands of time and weather.
        In 1939, Albert (Bert) T. Shine, a prominent attorney of Oakland, acquired the property from his sister, Mary E. Byrne.  He was undecided after inspecting the decrepit old house as to whether he should restore it or finish what the elements had set out to accomplish.  Finally, a decision was reached and the old place was granted a new lease on life.  The porch was shaken from its drunken stupor and straightened up.  The scroll-work was renewed and tacked back into place.  The floors were raised seven inches at the corners to level themselves with the center.  Broken windows were replaced and the holes which were bored in the floors to permit standing water to escape were fitted with wooden plugs.  A coat of paint and a new roof completed the job and the old house once again stood erect and dignified.
        With the outside restored Mr. Shine moved inside to see what could be done.  He found the walls, stairs and fireplace intact and several pieces of discarded furniture strewn about.  As he stood looking at the old pieces of furniture his mind wandered back through the years.  Suddenly a smile spread over his face and a hobby was born.  He had restored the outside, now he would furnish the inside in keeping with its age.  In his sister's home up on the hill were a few articles of furniture originally belonging in the old house.  These were returned and served as a "starter" for the many pieces of furniture that followed.  Pieces of furniture that need such a house to bring out their age and mellowness.
        Since that day Mr. and Mrs. Shine have scoured the countryside seeking old furniture, glass and bric-a-brac to fill the nine rooms of the old house.  Piece by piece, the living room, kitchen and bedrooms have been carefully restored to resemble a home of some sixty years ago.  A century old Seth Thomas grandfather clock constructed of cherry wood marks time in the hall.  A combination album and music box occupies a small marble top table in the living room.  A steeple clock keeps keeps company with the spinning wheel and long-handled brass bed warmer on the hearth.  In the kitchen are many ancient pots and pans.  An old splasher churn, worn smooth by use, stands ready to renew its task of making butter.  The mechanical apple-peeler attached to the home-made kitchen cabinet is in perfect working order and the collection of old irons on the massive wood stove depicts the many advance steps in the art of "washing and ironing."
        In one corner of the living room, next to a cabinet filled with figurines is an old horse-hair sofa.  In the opposite corner stands a horse-hair chair with an "antimacasser"on the chair back.  The melodeon under the front window is over 100 years old and still plays perfectly.  A marble top table on which rests a music box album occupies the center of the room.
        The dining room, perhaps the most interesting of the entire house, boasts an inside fireplace with a flue that extends through the bedroom above for added warmth.  On the hearth stands a wooden spinning wheel and from the mantel hangs a brass pan bed warmer.  When used the bed warmer was filled with hot coals and quickly slipped between the covers on the bed where it was moved back and forth until the chill was gone.  The collapsible brass lantern on the mantel, although foreign to the house and its furnishings, is a rare antique.  It is known as a Watts Instantaneous Lantern and is perhaps the forerunner of our present-day flashlight.  Made in London, the lantern is about five inches high and about three inches square.  The two side panels and the front, which serves as a door, have isinglass windows.  In the bottom of the lantern is a small brass drawer containing miniature candles and other neccessary paraphernalia.  The entire lantern, when not in use, collapses into a small compact package which can be easily carried in the pocket.  The lantern was presented to the Shines by Mrs. Hedden of Seattle, Washington, and according to authentic records it was carried by a Doctor Robson who administered aid to the wounded at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.
        The Shine collection of early American glass goblets contains many pieces of rare value.  They are effectively displayed in an old china closet which occupies one wall of the dining room.  To describe the collection would require many pages but glass collectors, in the know, will readily appreciate the pieces of Westward Ho, Moon and Star, Frosted Grape and Magnet, Pigs and Corn, Lincoln and Garfield drape, Comet, Classic, Owl and Possum and the Ashburton.  Elsewhere about the room are early American pictures, figurines, and old dining sets, dishes and other objects of great interest.
        In the bedrooms, reached by stairs with steps hollowed by rough boots, you will find everything in readiness for a good night's rest.  The old spool bedsteads, restored by Mr. Shine, are again doing duty.  They are completely made up with sheets, pillows, quilts and bedspreads.  In one of the bedrooms is a Windsor chair and a blanket chest which Mrs. Shine highly prizes.  In another room a commode, complete with porcelain washbowl and pitcher, awaits some weary traveler.  The old coal-oil lamps with ornate shades are filled and ready for the touch of a match.  From the wooden towel rack in the corner hang clean fresh towels serving to remind visitors of early day living.
        In the trophy room off the hall upstairs Mr. Shine has a collection of early guns, Indian relics and many objects from the lumber camps which once surrounded Woodside.  In the Indian collection will be found many beaded objects, a headdress, bows and arrows, and several mortars and pestles.  The prize piece of this interesting collection is a beaded funeral moccasin.  Very few of these have ever found their way into "pale face" hands because of their religious significance.  They were placed on the feet of deceased Indians during funerals and played such an important part in the ceremony that followed that they were never permitted outside tribal hands.
        There are hundreds of other rare articles in the Shine house that deserves special mention.  Space prevents our describing them here but those already meantioned will serve to show the hours of time and labor Mr. and Mrs. Shine have put into their hobby house.  Mr. Shine, in his own workshop, refinishes and repairs small pieces of furniture.  In this shop many important discoveries are made.  Just recently Mr. Shine discovered a beautiful piece of rosewood furniture hidden beneath seven coats of paint.
        In an old building back of the house are many objects that are yet to be conditioned.  In time they will be cleaned and repaired and eventually find their niche in hobby house.  Up the hill stands an old chuck wagon waiting for the day when it will be restored complete with furnishings.  The oxen yoke, the harness, carriages and old lanterns in the shed are also scheduled for Mr. Shine's expert attention.
        Through their years of collecting, Mr. and Mrs. Shine have captured a part of the charm and dignity of a past generation and carefully preserved it for posterity.  They have taken proper settings, affording all of an opportunity to glance backward on a pioneer home of our forefathers.

© 1948 Theron G. Cady. All rights reserved.
Posted here with permission of his granddaughter, Andrea Van Norman.
Return to Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula
Return to San Mateo County History
© Copyright 2003-2005 Ron Filion and Pamela Storm. All rights reserved.