The Boxcar House

Project scope: Whole house remodel, with dining room and master suite addition.

Construction completed: Spring 2010

General contractor: Jerry Madson Construction

Location: Rocklin, California

This small home has an interesting history. Built in 1946 from abandoned railroad boxcars, it was purportedly the home of the then mayor of Rocklin, an eccentric fellow who enjoyed strolling his community in his top hat. The home in its construction reflected the community's history: Built in the 'old town' of Rocklin, just a stone's throw from where the first roundhouse west of the Sierras was built for the Central Pacific Railway, this home's walls, floors, and ceilings were constructed with the salvaged walls of old boxcars, with a foundation laid with the region's main export: granite. The granite from the twenty-two local quarries also went into the construction of the state's capitol and many buildings in San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The years since its construction have not been kind to this house, however, and although its bones were as sturdy as ever, it needed a facelift, inside and out. The enclosed back patio rooms, not original to the home, were removed. A bedroom, a master suite, and a laundry room were added in their place. A dining area was added at the front, adjacent to the kitchen. The old dropped ceiling was removed, exposing the original nine foot high boxcar wall ceiling. The old train cars remain in the walls, but this cute cottage of a home has new skin inside and out, of smooth-finish plaster, salvaged brick, and stained redwood beams and corbels.

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