Charles and Carrie Inch Segerstrom, along with their five children – Charles Jr., Martha, Richard, Donald, and William, moved into their new home on Knowles Hill (originally called Cabezut Hill) in late 1927.
It became known as the Big House by the family. The home was designed by the Davis-Pearce firm of Stockton and described in the local newspaper, at the time, as “the finest and largest in Tuolumne County.” Five generations of family members lived in the home until it was sold in 1996 by Mary Etta Segerstrom (1920—2012), widow of Donald I. Segerstrom.
The grandparents of Carrie Inch were Charles and Caroline Burden, originally from England, who arrived in Tuolumne County in 1854. The Burdens were successful in the furniture and undertaking business.
Charles Segerstrom’s family was from Sweden, immigrating to the United States in 1883. He was working at a summer job when he met Carrie Inch. At the time he was a law student living in Santa Ana. He came back to Sonora, and they were wed in 1905. Charles was active in gold mining businesses, an owner of hotels, and became a bank president.
The home has 10,000 square feet on four levels: basement, first and second floors, and attic. The basement is where the garage is located, along with laundry and boiler rooms. On the first floor, the entryway measures 12’ x 7’ x 20’ with original white oak flooring.
The living room is the heart of the home, with large double hung windows and views of the garden and town. Nearby is the library with French doors leading to the west terrace. Philippine mahogany was used to make all first floor doors, trim, and balustrade. The dining room, at the opposite end of the first floor, has a mahogany swinging door which leads to the kitchen.
A guest bedroom with bath was originally located near the breakfast room. An elegant staircase rises from the entryway to the second floor where the family’s bedrooms once were located. Charles and Carrie’s suite included a bedroom, bathroom, wardrobe, and sewing room (referred to as the nursery). A maid’s quarters were also located on the second floor descending to the kitchen. Above the second floor is 1,600 feet of attic, a playground for children on rainy days.
In 1996 the Big House became a bed and breakfast. The current innkeepers, Fred and Rhonda Buess, purchased the home in 2001.
Betty Sparagna, TCHS Landmarks Committee