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[photo] Morse House, a classic Queen Anne Victorian, was built by Charles Copeland Morse, "the American Seed King" of Santa Clara Valley
Photograph by Judith Silva, courtesy of the City of Santa Clara

In 1892 Charles Copeland Morse, "The American Seed King" who co-founded the giant Ferry-Morse Seed Co., completed the house of his dreams. Born in Thomaston, Maine, in 1842 Charles came to California originally in 1859, lured by the search for gold. After mining for a couple of years, he found his way to Santa Clara in 1862. Santa Clara was then a small town with an agricultural setting. Mr. Moore engaged in several occupations, among them that of a house painter. Charles Copeland Morse married Maria Josephine Victoria Langford in 1868. In 1877, he and a Methodist minister pooled their money to buy a seed-growing enterprise, which became the Ferry-Morse Seed Co. This company eventually led the world in flower and vegetable seed productions. In addition to being active in his business, he was one of the founders of the Bank of Santa Clara and the Advent Christian Church of Santa Clara. Charles and Maria had five children who grew up in the mansion that a local newspaper dubbed "the house that seed built."

[photo] Historic photographs of Charles Copeland Morse and Maria Josephine Victoria Langford Morse
Photograph from National Register collection

This house is a classic Queen Anne Victorian. Rising three stories over a raised basement, the twin gables, witches' hat turret, decorative shingles, trims and stained glass windows all contribute to the grand effect. The entry is distinguished by an ornate front porch. Inside the mansion are rich wood molding, stained glass windows and chandeliers. A unique chandelier is found in the old dining room. This brass fixture came from the family of the founder of the Bank of America, A. P. Giannini. About 1975, Caroline and Vaughn Nixon bought the house and restored the ornate mansion to its original grandeur. The Morse Mansion presently hosts law offices but the interior retains an air of elegance.

The Morse Mansion has been used as a law office for the last 20 years and is not open to the public. The house is located at 981 Fremont St., Santa Clara, on the corner of Fremont and Washington sts.

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