Thomas Houseworth and Co. is the
company continued by Thomas Houseworth after his partner George Lawrence retired in 1869.
Houseworth was an optometrist and stereograph merchant located in San Francisco, Calif. The
images in this collection contain reprints of Lawrence and Houseworth images, as well as
newly created images. Houseworth was a major player in the stereograph market until the
early 1870s, and he took numerous measures to make sure his work remained viable, including
introducing new formats and competing with rival stereograph publishers.
Lawrence retired from Lawrence and Houseworth between 1867 and 1868, and Houseworth took
over the business, renaming it Thomas Houseworth and Co., while still also offering
optometry services. He introduced many new categories of views at this time, and was still
offering views once sold by Lawrence and Houseworth. New images were also produced, likely
between 1868 and 1869, and Houseworth hired a number of new employees. The stereoscopic
market was lucrative and quite competitive, and Houseworth wanted to maintain his dominance
of the market. He even moved his business to a more tourist-friendly location, at No. 9
Montgomery Street, underneath the Lick House (a lavish hotel). However, business began to
decline after losing a bid to competitor Bradley and Rulofson to publish Eadweard
Muybridge's new series of views. The stereoscopic market in general was also on the decline.
In 1874, he moved his business again – opening a "photographic parlor" across the street
from his old location. He offered a new series of nearly 3,000 cabinet cards, which he
called "Houseworth's Celebrities" and which depicted famous theater actors and actresses, as
well as athletes and politicians, and which were quite popular. Houseworth continued working
at this location until 1886, and retired from photography in 1894.
1 photo box, half of which is Houseworth and Co., and half of
which is Lawrence and Houseworth.
Materials in this collection are in the public domain in the United States. Permission to
publish or reproduce is not required.
CHS is not taking appointments for research at this time. Please check the Library's website updates: https://californiahistoricalsociety.org/collections/north-baker-research-library/