AVERY, Alfred James “A. J.”

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AVERY, Alfred James “A. J.” (1851-1929), building contractor born in Southampton, England, who was hired by the Santa Cruz Island Company for construction projects at the main ranch. He died at age 78 and is buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.

In the News~

April 19, 1910 [SBMP]: “A.J. Avery, contractor and builder, returned Sunday from a two-weeks trip, visiting in Seattle and San Francisco, and at the later place contracted with the Justinian Caire estate for the construction of a sixteen-room bungalow on Santa Cruz Island. This has been contemplated for some time, and the work will commence at once. The Santa Cruz Island schooner came into port last night and will leave for the island this morning with lumber. Aboard will be Mrs. Avery who will go to make the necessary arrangements for the construction and establishment of a camp. The bungalow will be built at the main ranch. The sixteen-room building will take up a space of 70 by 70 feet. This will be made the home of the Caires for a portion of the year. Previously accommodations at the present ranch house were insufficient when the Caires went there either for business or pleasure and taking a party of friends would be out of the question. Mr. Avery expects to secure all of his supplies here. The Santa Barbara Lumber Company will furnish the main items in the construction of the building, while the remaining necessary material will be established at the main ranch at once, and during the week a crew of twelve or fifteen carpenters will go over on the company’s boat and the real work will commence.”

April 20, 1910 [SBI]: “For the first time beautiful Santa Cruz Island, separated from Santa Barbara by 30 miles of the blue Pacific, is to be something more than an immense cattle and sheep ranch with vineyards and a wine house as adjuncts. A. H. Avery, a local contractor, left for Santa Cruz Island to begin the construction of a handsome 16-room bungalow and ranch house near Prisoners’ Harbor. It is to be built by the Caire family of San Francisco, owners of the island, as a summer home and headquarters for the big ranch. Twelve or fifteen carpenters will follow Mr. Avery in a few days and work will begin at once. All supplies will be bought here, the lumber to be furnished by the Santa Barbara Lumber Company.”

April 22, 1910 [SBMP]: “The power schooner Santa Cruz has sailed for the island with a cargo of lumber to be used in the construction of the new home for the Caire family.”

April 23, 1910 [SBI]: “Island bungalow a thing of beauty. When the Caire family of San Francisco opens its new bungalow near Prisoners’ Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, it will be able to boast of a unique and many ways the most beautiful summer home in the United States… Contractor A. J. Avery today gave out some details of the new house, which show that it will be out of the ordinary in several particulars. It will contain 16 rooms, most of which will be bedrooms for the use of the Caire family and guests. The feature of the house will be an immense living room with a large fireplace, hardwood floor and beamed ceiling. This will run along the entire length of the house. At the rear will be a patio or courtyard with seats, shrubbery and a fountain. The interior will be finished in ornamental beaver board. There will be extensive bathroom accommodations. The exterior will be finished with drop siding and French windows. The building will cover a space of almost 400 running feet, or nearly 100 [sic] feet square. The power schooner Santa Cruz is expected today with a load of sheep, and will leave Monday morning with Mr. Avery, who will take over a camp outfit and a force of cement then and carpenters. The new bungalow will connect at one end with a separate building in which the dining room will be located. The other end will connect with the present ranch house. Mr. Caire has told his friends here that he will use the house as a summer residence and for entertaining.”

July 28, 1910 [SBI]: “Completes bungalow on Santa Cruz Island. Contractor A. J. Avery has returned from Santa Cruz Island, where for the past three months he has been building an 18-room bungalow for the Caire family on the main ranch. Mr. Caire of San Francisco is now on the island, and the new house will soon be opened by a house party of San Francisco people. It will be used only by the Caires, as there are already two houses for the ranch manager and the workmen. Mr. Avery said that the old adobe and brick ranch house is to be razed. Dr. Shaw, who then owned the island, built this house more than 50 years ago. Dr. Shaw lived in the house adjoining the Potter Theatre. After he sold the island it finally came into possession of a French company, which paid $100,000 for it. It is said the Caires would not take $2,500,000 for the island.”

September 5, 1911 [SBMP]: “Extensive improvements are to be made on Santa Cruz Island. Mr. Avery, a local contractor, left this morning on the island schooner Santa Cruz with a load of lumber for Scorpion, where he will build a bungalow, which the Caire family will use for a summer residence. When this work is completed, he will go to the main ranch, where a spacious dining room will be built.”

March 14, 1914 [SBMP]: “The powerboat Otter, Captain Vasquez, went to Prisoners’ Harbor yesterday with a cargo of lumber for the Caire estate, to be used in various repairs.”

May 15, 1915 [SBMP]: “Island building campaign on for entire summer. Contractor with fifteen men leave for Santa Cruz Island. Sailing yesterday afternoon for Santa Cruz Island, contractor A. J. Avery and a force of fifteen men go prepared for an all-summer’s building campaign for the Caire estate. These operations will include the construction of silos and barns on various of the island ranches, camp first being established at the west end of the island, then on the east end, and finally at the middle ranch, where there are nearly 300 acres of alfalfa and hundreds of other acres suitable to the cultivation of corn. The island company is not engaged in the dairy business, but has large herds of beef cattle. The silos will store the corn and the barns will hold the hay crop that is said to be unusually large this year. Three years ago, Mr. Avery built a fine bungalow on the island, where members of the Caire family spend their summers.”

May 15, 1915 [SBDNI]: “Contractor A. J. Avery and 15 builders left for Santa Cruz Island yesterday to build a barn and silos on the west end of the island for the hay and corn being raised there by the Caires for their herd of beef cattle. Last year Mr. Avery built a fine home on the island for the Caires.”

May 28, 1915 [SBMP]: “A. J. Avery, the contractor, came over from Prisoners’ Harbor on the power schooner Santa Cruz yesterday morning for more materials and more men to use in his improvement work on the island. He was accompanied by a number of his men who took advantage of the opportunity to pay a short visit to their families on the mainland. Mr. Avery has had fifteen men at work across the channel during the past two weeks. They have built three large barns and two cottages, and have a lot of work to do yet in construction, remodeling and repairing buildings in different parts of the island.”

June 5, 1915 [SCICo]: “A. J. Avery, Esq., Santa Barbara, Cal. Dear Sir: Mr. Revel has probably told you about some little work to be done around the house at Scorpion as well as at the windmill at that place. When you have performed this work remember to keep a separate account of it as we do not wish to have it lumped with the work of the barn and of the silos. You will greatly oblige us if you keep a separate account of the work done, both at the barns and silos, so we may know exactly how much each kind of work cost us. You remember fitting up the dining room of the main ranch about four years ago. We wish to have a little change made therein, so as to have a stove in there independent from the main kitchen. We will let you know later and in good time what this slight alteration is to be. Very truly yours, The Santa Cruz Island Company, AJC.”

June 11, 1915 [SBDNI]: “Contractor A. J. Avery, having progressed rapidly with the work of constructing a number of buildings on Santa Cruz Island is bringing his men back tomorrow to put them to work on more improvements to be made on the Club at the Montecito Hot Springs. On the island Mr. Avery has been building three large barns for the Caire’s ranching operations and two cottages for the help. He is also building silos for the alfalfa crop now raised on the island, and has made many alterations and additions to the buildings he erected for the Caire family a year or two ago.”

June 30, 1915 [SCICo]: “Mr. A. J. Avery, Santa Barbara, Cal. Dear Sir: We hear from the Santa Cruz Island report to the effect that one of the two barns which you built at Scorpion was left uncompleted, that is, that the roof was not entirely shingled. Will you kindly let us know if this is a fact, and how it was left in that state? Will you kindly let us know how you came to take your men away before the work was entirely finished? Your bills and letters seemed to indicate that nothing was left undone, so we cannot understand how such a state of affairs can exist. Yours very truly, The Santa Cruz Island Company, AJC.”

July 16, 1915 [SBMP]: “A. J. Avery and a crew of his workmen went to Prisoners’ Harbor yesterday with a load of lumber for the extensive building and repair operations going on in different parts of Santa Cruz Island.”

July 16, 1915 [SBDNI]: “A. J., Avery has returned to Santa Cruz Island to erect more buildings at Prisoners’ Harbor. Yesterday the contractor took over a large amount of lumber and other building material. The steamer Helen P. Drew is due here shortly with 60,000 feet of pine lumber for the island.”

August 3, 1915 [SCICo]: “Santa Barbara Lumber Co. Gentlemen: We need 18 pieces of ½ x 6 20-feet long clear redwood boards for the interior lining of a silo. This must be absolutely clean and free from knots and defects of any kind. We want something similar to the one-half x six clean redwood delivered to the Helen P. Drew on August 8, 1914. It is made from one and one half x six lumber and was charged to us then at $55.00 per thousand running feet. You now understand what we need and we would request that you deliver it to the schooner at the very earliest opportunity. Yours truly, The Santa Cruz Island Co., AJC.”

August 25, 1915 [SBMP]: “A. J. Avery is getting toward the finish of important building and repair operations on which he has been engaged for several months on the Caire Santa Cruz Island property. He has built three large silos, one at the west end and the other at the east end of the island, and in different localities three large barns and one cottage, besides making extensive repairs here and there.”

August 28, 1917 [SCICo]: “Cagnazzi returned on the schooner last trip and announced that he was going to work for Avery in Santa Barbara at $50 per month, and board. We thought it was whiskey talk, but it is official and he is leaving on this trip. We are making Cavalla foreman at Christy.”

July 2, 1918 [SCICo]: “Mr. A. J. Avery, We have the lumber for the building we wrote about and we wish to know when you can come over for the work. What lumber should be on the ground first to enable you to start the work? When you come over, over seven windows (double sash), 12 lights 9 x 12 with the frames and sash weights ready to put in place. Respectfully yours, The Santa Cruz Island Company Secy.”

July 15, 1918 [SCICo]: “The schooner left for Santa Barbara with Mr. A. J. Caire on July 12th at 9:30 A.M. and returned to the island on July 14th at 5:00 P.M. with Mr. Avery and 3 carpenters.”

July 25, 1918 [SCICo]: “The schooner left for Santa Barbara on July 23rd at 9:05 A.M. and returned to the island on July 25th at 5:00 P.M. with Mr. Troup, Mr. Safer, Mr. Avery and 5 more carpenters and shingles, 4 laborers and 7 vaqueros.”

August 8, 1918 [SCICo]: “The work at the main ranch consists of trimming in the vineyards. The fermenting room, cellar and the old cellar have been shingled and the men are now working on the Superintendent’s house and the men’s bunkhouse. Mr. Avery expects to be through at Scorpion about Saturday, and it is possible that the shingles will be through at the main ranch about the same time.”

September 27/28, 1929 [SBMP]: “Alfred Avery passes away. Had resided in Santa Barbara 25 years. Native of Great Britain. Alfred James Avery, 78, passed away yesterday in his home at 436 Napalm Street. He was born in Southampton, England, February 3rd, 1851. His parents were Joseph and Susan Avery. His father was owner of Regent Baths in Southampton where he had died when Mr. Avery was 8 months old. At the time Mr. Avery was taken into the family of his uncle, John Saunders, master of the Royal British School where he lived for 15 years. He then went to sea. He became a member of the crew of the William Penn and landed in New York City in 1869. He then took up the carpenters trade, coming west. He first located in San Francisco, later coming to Santa Barbara where he had made his home for the last 25 years. Decedent is survived by his widow and five children...” He is buried in the Santa Barbara Cemetery.