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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Albert Shafsky House turns 110

Nice article about the house in the Mountain Democrat....


The blue and white Queen Anne-style Victorian home sits on the corner of Spring Street and Coloma Road as it has for 110 years. Built in 1902 by storekeeper Albert Shafsky for his wife Kitty and their daughter, Alberta, the home has been owned by Stephanie Carlson and Rita Timewell and operated as a bed and breakfast inn since 2002.

Although Albert L. Shafsky, a storekeeper in downtown Placerville, moved his growing family to Oakland in 1915, Carlson and Timewell, as well as a few guests and ghost hunters, think he might have returned.

"No one told us about any ghosts when we bought the house " said Carlson, "but after we moved in we noticed that lightbulbs are unscrewed, doors are locked and unlocked, books moved off the shelves and pennies keep showing up on the floor after we've vacuumed. We smell cherry pipe tobacco in the evenings, so we think its Albert. He's not adversarial; he's fun."

"Guests describe the house as welcoming," said Timewell. "We've never seen any ghosts, but some guests have described two children near the stairway, or a gentleman sitting in one of the chairs or a fluffy white dog. Sometimes he'll turn the stove on or off when I'm cooking and when I'm trying to prepare breakfast for six people. It's annoying. So I'll just say,'Knock it off, Albert' and it stops."

The 2,040-square-foot home has six public rooms and some of the original light fixtures and crown molding, complete with bulls-eyes. Timewell and Carlson painted and updated the home when they purchased it, but it is essentially the way it has been since Shafsky built it.

"We had to replace the old knob and tube electrical wiring for insurance purposes," said Carlson, "but it was in perfect condition."

They also replaced sash type windows with dual paned windows, but kept the diamond-shaped beveled glass windows and stained glass windows that give the house its unique appearance. Corner towers, bay windows, and a door to nowhere that is three feet above the ground add to the building's interest.

"We think there used to be a summer kitchen and the  'door to nowhere' used to be  the wagon delivery," said Carlson.

Timewell and Carlson  decorated the three guest rooms with their own favorite antiques and electic style. The Gandy Dancer, is a railroad themed bedroom with railroad artifacts and train memorabilia and a view of Spring Street. The two-room suite, Alberta's Attic, displays Timewell's collection of antiques and has stained glass windows and a view of Coloma Street. The Vineyard Room downstairs, just off the parlor, has two different  views of Coloma Street, beautiful antiques, pictures by local artists and a lush burgundy decor.

The inside of the home has a warm, comfortable feel to it, with a streamlined blend of old and new instead of the fussy antique and doily approach. Timewell serves her guests fabulous breakfasts and fresh cookies in the afternoon. "It's my favorite thing to do," said Timewell.

The home has had several owners since the Shafskys left — the John X. Smith family for 46 years, Ronald and Darlene Klipfel and John and Roberta Peterson, who ran the home as a bed and breakfast inn before Timewell and Carlson bought it.

Albert Shafsky came to Placerville from Fort Bragg where he and his brothers started a dry goods store. The store was damaged in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906,but the Shafsky Brothers sign still remains carved into a storefront on Main Street in Fort Bragg. Albert Shafsky served on the Placerville City Council from 1906-1910 and as mayor 1906-1908. He was reputed to be the first merchant downtown with glass store-front windows.

Photos of Albert and Kitty Shafsky on their wedding day hang on the wall in the parlor. Timewell and Carlson have actually met Shafsky family members from the Bay Area and other parts of California. Some have even stayed at the inn.

"One Shafsky couple was traveling down Highway 49 to a family reunion and they saw the house. They had no idea it was here," said Carlson, who has compiled a Shafsky genealogy  and a photo album with pictures and tidbits of the family and the house..

The innkeepers celebrated the Shafsky House's birthday on May 4 , during  Girls' Night Out with a cake at Tony Matthews and gift certificates for downtown merchants.

"To say thank you to all the merchants our guests visit and those who have supported us, we gave each downtown merchant a $50 gift certificate for the Shafsky House, for them to use or to pass along to a customer. They were all surprised to be receiving something from us, but we've made some great friends and relationships here," said Timewell, who is a member of Kiwanis, on the Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprise Board of Directors, and a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

Under Timewell and Carlson's operation, the bed and breakfast has won multiple awards, including the 2007 Guest Favorite Award from BnB Finder.com and the 2008 award for Best Bed and Breakfast from Bed and Breakfast.com.

With microfiber robes, slippers, award-winning breakfasts or a glass of wine and his picture on the wall in these historical surroundings, it's no wonder Albert doesn't want to leave.


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