The Schmeiser House



This home was built in 1911 by Davis pioneer-inventor Theodore G Schmeiser.

Who were the Schmeisers?

Theodore G. Schmeiser was President of Schmeiser Manufacturing Company, which produced almond hullers in the early 1900s. He was credited with bringing the first water supply system to Davis.

Theodore, or T. G., as he was called, was born August 27, 1872. His father, Gotfried Schmeiser, settled in Yolo County in 1868, and was born near Stuttgart, Germany on January 26, 1835. He emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he learned the carpenter’s trade, and came to California, via the Isthmus of Panama, in 1857. He mined briefly and became a successful engineer and machinist in the Stockton and Sacramento areas. The California State Agricultural Society Transactions of 1859 acclaimed one of his inventions, stating, “G. Schmeiser, Sacramento, has a beautiful piece of miniature machinery in use, turning the printing press of the State Fair Gazette, which has been made by him during the past year. It is a double engine, two-horse power, having a link motion, and working to perfection. It can be reversed with great ease. It is well finished and hightly polished, and attracts numbers of admirers.”

T.G. inherited his father’s genius for mechanical invention and became a well- known manufacturer of farm machinery – at first in Davisville, and after 1917 in Fresno. He married Chloe LaNette Klays, daughter of pioneers Frederick and Chloe Collins Klays. They had one daughter, Bernice, of Peoria, Illinois, whose husband, Edwin Burks, retired as vice president of the Caterpillar Tractor Co. He and his wife were active in community affairs between 1900- 1925. When the manufacturing plant was moved to Fresno and the Schmeisers divorced, she remaining in Davis. T. G.’s second marriage was to Lella Cullingford, who lived in Fresno.

Notable Features of the House

This impressive structure has elements from both Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles, and features ornate brick work bordering the front porch. The house’s most intriguing artifact is a swastika pattern in the chimney brickwork. Schmeiser, the son of German immigrants, had the brick pattern put in as a good luck charm.

An innovative fire protection system was built into the house, consisting of a large cistern in the back yard, a water tank in the attic connected to water hoses on all floors and, at one time, a method for catching rain water on the roof.

What has happened since the Schmeisers lived here?

In 1980 the house was acquired by a fraternity and interior modifications were made to accommodate resident members. The conditional use permit was not renewed after the first year. The house was then acquired by Don Brooks, a Davis Police officer, and his family. They sold the home in 2002 to Hernando Garzon, and it is listed as “sale pending as of June 2015.