Last updated: 4/2/2010
Oroville, California
Address
1480 Lincoln
Oroville, CA 95965
Hours
Saturday11 AM - 3 PM
and by appointment
Staff
Lucy Sperlin, Director
Description

The Ehmann Home was built in 1911 by Edwin Ehmann in the Craftsman Bungalow style. The architect was John Morton of Chico. Today it is the only surviving reminder of the once grand Ehmann Olive Company presence in Butte County. The story of the Ehmann home begins with Freda Ehmann and her olives. She is considered the "mother" of the modern olive canning industry. Her olive curing business began with her desperate effort to develop a market for the olives from her 20-acre orchard. Until this time, olives had been grown primarily for oil; olive curing and canning had not been reliably successful. Through experimentation and stringent quality control, she developed a reliable curing system. Although she did not invent the olive curing process, she did create a reliable product and a marketing system that introduced the cured olive to the general public. Her first experiments began in 1897 and within a year the demand for Ehmann olives was greater than her orchard could supply. She came to Oroville in 1898 looking for a dependable supply of quality olives for her rapidly expanding olive canning business. Here she found the Fogg orchard (still standing today on the bluff overlooking the green bridge), and secured a lease on it. After she proved that Oroville was a feasible place to grow and process olives, the Ehmanns built an olive processing plant here in 1904.

History

In 1925 the Ehmanns retired and moved to the Bay Area and placed the house on the market. In December of 1926, the Board of Supervisors bought it for $15,000 and for over five decades it served as a utilitarian office building, losing many of its original fixtures. By the late 1970's the house was considered surplus and plans were made to demolish it to provide more parking space. Fortunately the Society was able to acquire the house for preservation in 1981.

Today the Ehmann Home serves as the Butte County Historical Society's headquarters and also may be rented for meetings, weddings or receptions.

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