by Marlene Wiley

“Hazelhurst” is the name of the house pictured on this month’s cover. It was the name Mr. and Mrs. Arthur L. Sears gave the home they built on San Jose-Soquel Road. The name is derived from “. . . the dense growth of hazel on the land.” It is a Queen Anne Victorian cottage built of redwood milled at Laurel. The house had six spacious rooms with twelve-foot high ceilings. The walls were flat-painted plaster and the floors redwood. In 1930, a seventh room was added. It was a pool room built for Arthur who suffered from stomach cancer. He needed a distraction at night when he couldn’t sleep.

 Arthur L. Sears was the son of the Reverend Arthur E. Sears. His wife was Laura Josephine Berry who came to the mountains to be the teacher at Burrell School. She roomed with Reverend and Mrs. Sears. At the time Laura moved to the mountains, Arthur was a cowpuncher living in Missouri. He ultimately worked his way west and met the schoolteacher. Laura and Arthur were married in 1888. She continued to teach for another ten years. Their daughter Pearl was born October 30, 1905. 

Arthur and Laura purchased adjacent properties on Soquel Road. Arthur purchased his land as early as 1884 from the Hihn Company. Eventually the land became a ranch as Arthur planted orchards of prunes and cherries. The first structures on the ranch were a barn and water tank. Laura was quite a carpenter. According to her daughter Pearl, she helped Arthur build their home. Pearl once said, “She knew more of what she was doing than he did.”

Laura’s father was a carpenter and she learned everything from him. 
The house took several years to build. The family moved in on April 17, 1906. The next morning about 5 a.m., the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was felt as the family was getting up. Mr. Sears put out a lantern and Mrs. Sears tried to get into a closet. Fortunately, the door stuck, because fireplace bricks fell into the closet. Though no one was hurt, the house was knocked off its foundation. They put the house back on the foundation with horses and pulleys. 

Hazelhurst has the distinction of surviving the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. Both times the house fell off the foundation. Both times it was repaired, but in the second earthquake, the water tower was destroyed and the barn severely damaged.

The daughter, Pearl Sears Lake, lived downtown for many years. When her parents died in the early 1940’s, she moved to the ranch, and continued to commute daily to her job at Moffett Field. Her son Dick attended Burrell School where his grandmother had been a teacher. Pearl worked the ranch with assistance of hired help. Pearl was a member of the Loma Prieta Club and Skyland Church. She was ninety years old when she died on March 6, 1996. Her son sold the ranch. 

Purchased by a family who have remodeled the house and updated the landscaping, Hazelhurst still retains its beauty.

* * *

Skyland Church the First Hundred Years. A history of the church and the mountain community. Skyland Church, 1987, pages 13-15. 

Wahlenmeier, Ann. “One Was Not Enough, It Went For Two,” Mountain Network News, Volume IV, October 17, 1991, pages 4 and 16.


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