Eureka is home to some of the most diverse and unique architecture to be found anywhere – bungalows, cottages, craftsmen, and Tudors – many built from original local redwood timber. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, local contractor Earnest Pierson designed and constructed around 2,000 affordable, modern post-war homes – the Eichlers of Humboldt County. And then, of course, there are the Victorians, especially Queen Annes and Eastlakes, many of which still contain original fixtures, hardware, and millwork.
The most famous of these Victorians is the William Carson Mansion. Known nationally, this beautiful icon of Eureka’s storied and historic past has been lovingly preserved by a local club and features stained glass windows and exotic woods from around the globe.
Over 1,500 structures in Eureka are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many are categorized as important surviving examples of architectural styles.
Humboldt Bay was settled in conjunction with the California Gold Rush, and the city was given the name “Eureka” from the Greek word meaning “I have found it.” White settlers eventually outnumbered the Wiyot people, and in 1853, Fort Humboldt was established by the U.S. army to assist in conflict resolution between Native Americans and gold-seekers.
In 1860, the Wiyot massacre occurred on Tuluwat Island in the Humboldt Bay, where 80 – 250 Wiyot people were murdered by local Eureka businessmen.
Duluwat island, as Indian Island is referred to in the Wiyot language, encompasses the two ancient villages of Tuluwat (” Toulouwat “) and Etpidolh (“Etpidalh Watpuroulh “). In Wiyot culture the island represents more than an ancient village site or a historical homeland — it’s the physical and cultural center of the universe, a place with the spiritual power to bring balance to all else.
In October of 2019, the City made international headlines when they returned a sacred island in the Humboldt Bay to the Native American tribe from which it had been taken in a violent massacre 160 years prior. This event marked the first time a local government had taken such action anywhere in the country and was a long-awaited and deeply significant moment of healing.