About Locke House, the Barn and Lockeford
In 1849, adventuresome, energetic Dean Jewett Locke skipped his commencement exercises at Harvard Medical College to accept the position of doctor for the Boston Newton Company's trek to Sacramento City and Gold Country. He and his brother ventured out to the mining camps along the American River and eventually the Mokelumne.
Imagine the young physician's reaction when setting eyes on the beautiful scene along the Mokelumne River: Native American Miwok villages, forests thick with valley oaks and evergreens; a rushing river brimming with fish; bear, elk and deer roaming the vast foothills of the majestic Sierras.
Visualize this and you will know why Dean Jewett Locke of New Hampshire took the first opportunity to purchase land, begin ranching, and in 1855 bring his bride Delia Hammond to settle in this area.
Between 1863 and 1865, their small two-story New England style cottage was soon replaced by a fourteen-room, three-story, airy, neo-Georgian style brick house and three-level tank house (water tower). Having no source for bricks, enterprising Locke established a brick making facility and kiln just down the road from his ranch. By 1882 the Main House was connected to the tank house with a two-story wing and carriage way.
The Locke House soon accommodated thirteen children, relatives, visitors and sometimes patients. Here Dr. Locke conducted his medical practice as well as other businesses. Both house and barn (1858-1862) were centers for the pioneer community soon to be Lockeford.
During the Civil War the brick-rammed earth barn was headquarters for the Mokelumne Light Dragoons. (Their armoires now serve as closets in the Main House rooms.) Dr. Locke donated land for the establishment of three churches and the community school. He gave property for a railroad depot site as well as financing purchase of railroad cars to establish Lockeford as a major stop on the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad. Sadly, his efforts to establish Locke's Ford as the head of navigation on the Mokelumne River were unsuccessful.
Upon the death of his widow, the remaining Locke properties were apportioned to the Locke children. Theresa Locke Thorp (wife of state assemblyman and farmer James Thorp) and her sister Hannah inherited the Locke Homestead on Elliott Road. Theresa's son, noted aeronautical engineer and aircraft designer John W. Thorp, purchased Hannah's portion of the property to assure a home for his then-widowed mother.
In the 1960's John and Kathryn Thorp moved his aircraft workshop from Southern California into the barn and started rehabilitation of the severely deteriorated property, concentrating on the 1882 wing, barn and gardens. The Eklund family continued the restoration of the historic property.