History of the Hill House

826 South Church Street

Lodi, California

Built at the turn of the century, Hill House was the home of George Washington Hill, his wife Mary Hill and their children, Nellie and Maurice. Mrs. Hill's half-sister, Daisy, also lived at Hill House.

The house was moved in 1948 from its original location on School Street, across from the Lodi Post Office, to its present location at 826 South Church -a distance of about six blocks. Because of the move, required changes were made to bring the house up to city code. Changes, however, were primarily in the plumbing, electrical and heating systems, although an upper room was added at the time.

Today, The Hill House is operated under the auspices of the Lodi Historical Society and the Hill House Committee. Volunteers conduct tours most Sundays from 1-4 PM. Special tours may be arranged by calling (209) 369-6073. This venture is supported by membership fees, donations and grants.

The Hill Family

George Washington Hill moved to Lodi (then Mokelumne) from his native Maine in 1869. The following year Mr. Hill started a jewelry business, a trade he learned at the Waltham Factory. Mr. Hill was also an accomplished cabinetmaker. He made the large bookcase, the wall clock and the grand- father clock which are displayed in the house. Mr. Hill died February 22, 1927, Washington's Birthday.

Mary Lewis, the future Mrs. Hill, was born in 1857 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mary was just a child when her mother moved to Lodi, California after having married Silas Pleas in 1867. Daisy, Mary's half-sister, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Pleas in 1872. Daisy later moved into Hill House to be raised by George and Mary. Daisy attended Lodi schools and worked with Mr. Hill at Hill's Jewelry Store. She was known to be the first woman watchmaker in California and worked in that trade for sixty years. Daisy retired in 1950 and died on November 20,1960.

Mary Lewis and George Washington Hill were married in 1875. They lived in a cottage behind the Hill's Jewelry Store on Sacramento Street, then the main street of town. George was a rather rigid and staid individual while Mary was vivacious and socially inclined, with a great liking for people. She took it upon herself to welcome newcomers to Lodi.

Mr. and Mrs. Hill's first child, Nellie, was born in 1883. She was an active and talented child. A childhood accident left her crippled, but did not prevent her from composing music, writing poetry and singing. She was also an accomplished photographer, developing, printing and tinting her own photos. Nellie died in 1912 while still in her twenties.

In 1885, the Hill family bought a home on South School Street. They lived there until January of 1902, when they moved into Hill House. Mr. Hill designed the house and it was built by the Cary Brothers.

In 1900, a son, Maurice was born to Mr. and Mrs. Hill By this time, Mary was 44 and George was 60 years of age. Maurice, like his sister Nellie, was very artistic. He wrote music, poetry, and stories- many of which were published. Maurice was a concert pianist and toured Hawaii for a period of time giving concerts. Samples of his published works can be viewed at Hill House and some are available upon request.

When Maurice died in 1984, he left the Hill House and its contents in a trust, to the people of Lodi, with the stipulation that it be turned into a museum. It was his desire that future generations would be able to see how life was lived in the early years of Lodi.