40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail – #21

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife, and soul-mate retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’.

While on the Freedom Trail, I journaled every day and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson. Here’s another!

Leaders are pionEureka (15)eers and innovators – they build the future

We stayed in Eureka for two nights and had a laid back day on the second day.  As it was a Sunday, the town was quiet, and we wandered around, chatting to locals and having a nice meal.

While walking around, we came across this fabulous old house, the Carson Mansion. It was built 1884-1885 and is a three storey, eighteen room structure with a tower and basement. The house is known as one of the most photographed buildings in the USA.




Eureka (76)Quoting from Wikipedia, it is regarded as one of the highest executions of American Queen Anne Style architecture. The house is “considered the grandest Victorian home in America. Originally the home of William Carson, one of Northern California’s first major lumber barons, since 1950 it has been a private institution – the Ingomar Club.

The detail of the architecture was fabulous, and the zoom lense on the camera came in very useful. Mr Carson clearly had two choices in designing the house – build poorly and appear miserly, or grandiose and appear a show-off. Research shows he made it pleasing himself, but it clearly demonstrates the immense wealth and position he had attained through his lumber business.

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But Eureka is not just about the Carson Mansion. It is full of great buildings, like this one. Also another Carson house,  this is the J Milton Carson Mansion at Second Street and M Steet. Known locally as The Pink Lady, it was also built by the Newsom Brothers in 1889 as a wedding gift from William Carson to his son.

The old town was full of great architecture, some fascinating graffiti, and old fashioned styled shops. While stopping for a coffee break, we spoke to a local entrepreneur, who was interested in our home country.

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When my wife said she was initially from Liverpool, he pointed us in the direction of a fellow Liverpudlian, who lives and works in Eureka, providing horse and cab rides for tourists. When my wife called out to him, “Ar right der ar kid!”, he was astonished. Small world, eh! Then ensued a lively conversation, which ended up him posing for us in front of the Carson Mansion.

After our wander, we headed back to the hotel, smiling and chatting about our walk and our chance encounter with a native of Lesley’s home city. It is indeed a small world, and the more we travel, the more we find this is the case.


That night we went for a drive to find somewhere to eat and got lost. Searching for our way back to the hotel, we saw a great view of the Carson Mansion – the moon was out behind it, and it looked like Herman Munster should live there! ( He was the father of The Addam’s Family for those old enough to remember the programme).

As we didn’t have the camera with us at the time, we rushed back to the hotel for it. Sadly, by the time we returned, the clouds had formed, so no moon for this shot – but still looked impressive!

During my time in Eureka, I marvelled at the many examples of fine architecture throughout the town. Most of them built by lumber barons and early pioneers in this area. It struck me that their leadership led to the creation of the city. The ready availability of wood, the access routes south, and a growing nation providing the perfect opportunity to pioneer and innovate. Their legacy is impressive, both in the architecture they developed and the town they created.

[Tweet “Innovation comes out of great human ingenuity and very personal passions. – Megan Smith”]

As always, I welcome your comments and meaningful dialogue. I am always happy to listen and ready to help. I wish you an entertaining and enlightening experience of this series of posts. Thank you for reading.

Leaders are pioneers and innovators – they build the future

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