Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Roger L. Lathe papers
Collection Number: MS0010
Lathe, Roger Lee, 1933-2009
9.25 linear feet
Center for Sacramento History
Sacramento, California 95811
Abstract: The Roger L. Lathe papers includes the professional documentation of a
“housewright,” working throughout the Sacramento area and Northern California cities. Lathe spent
his professional career as an architectural historian, preservation and restoration contractor and
licensed home inspector. He wrote numerous articles in the
entitled, “The Housewright,” addressing issues pertaining to restoration, preservation,
architecture, and other home improvements. The bulk of the collection contains reports of home
inspections, an inspection checklist for private residences, including Lathe’s comments and repair
Language of Material:
Physical location: SP:02:H:04-05
The collection is open for research use.
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patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.
[Identification of item], Roger L. Lathe papers, MS0010, Center for Sacramento History
Received from the Sacramento Public Library (via Liza Mehler), on October 17, 2012 by the Center
for Sacramento History (accession #2012/036).
Roger Lee Lathe was born on October 27, 1933 in Delaware. Lathe was a professional preservation
and restoration contractor, a licensed home inspector, and called himself a “housewright,” meaning a
person who works on houses. In 1976, Lathe and his wife, Louise “Liza” Mehler, settled in Alkali
Flat, an older Sacramento residential neighborhood that was undergoing a thirty-year plan for
redevelopment and preservation. He worked for three decades, as well, to restore his 1894 home on F
Street. He had an affinity for Victorian homes and championed the cultural heritage present in
He composed thorough house inspection reports for the Sacramento area that reflected a high level
of inspection and evaluation of older homes for prospective buyers and homeowners alike. He was an
active freelance writer for multiple publications, such as the
, and the
Old City Guardian, and his article series, “The
Housewright,” appeared in both. Lathe contributed to the Sacramento Old City Association’s
“Structural Rehabilitation and Restoration Resources List” and assembled their first “Fainted Ladies
He was a long-time member of the Sacramento Old City Association, Berkeley Architectural Heritage
Association, and Sacramento County Historical Society.
Lathe’s house inspection career ended in 2001 due to macular degeneration; he passed away on
February 11, 2009 in Sacramento at age 76.
Scope and Content of Collection
This collection contains publications and articles Roger Lathe wrote and collected regarding
architecture, historic preservation, and construction. It also includes reports of inspection he
conducted on Northern California homes. The geographic focus of the material is Sacramento,
California, and dates from the 1960s through the 2000s. The original order of the papers was not
discernible, and an artificial series hierarchy was created based on similar subject material.
Within each series the folders are organized both alphabetically and numerically.
Topics and subjects included in the collection are architecture, historic preservation, real
estate, construction materials, inspections, restoration, neighborhood revitalization, city
planning, and the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Series 1. Reports of Inspection comprises of reports evaluating houses
primarily in the city of Sacramento. There are also reports for outlying cities and unincorporated
areas such as Walnut Grove, West Sacramento, Woodland, Arden Park, Carmichael, Citrus Heights,
Clarksburg, Courtland, Dixon, Elk Grove, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Freeport, Granite Bay, Knights Landing,
Laguna, Newcastle, North Highlands, Oakland, Penryn, Roseville, and Winters. The series is organized
by street address – first by Sacramento numbered avenues, streets, and parkways; and then
alphabetically by the name of the street. The aforementioned cities are organized alphabetically by
city at the end of the series.
Series 2. Publications encompasses various publications that Roger
Lathe contributed to and collected regarding real estate, architecture, and construction. This
series includes such publications as
Home Owner’s Resource, the
Sacramento Bee, and the
Old City Guardian. The
series is organized alphabetically by publication title and each publication is in order by date
published. See also Series 5 for additional articles written by Lathe.
Series 3. Collected Materials comprises of articles, papers,
brochures, and other materials regarding his interests in historic preservation, homes, and
architecture. It is organized alphabetically by folder title.
Series 4. Correspondence is in no discernible organization, and
includes various letters, memos, “thank you” notes, correspondence between clients regarding home
inspections, and public responses regarding Lathe’s published articles.
Series 5. Newspaper Clippings focuses primarily on articles written by
Lathe in publications such as the
The Housewright, Neighbors, etc. Subjects of note include neighborhood restoration, historic
preservation, renovations, Governor’s mansion, house inspections, vintage house restorations, K
Street, Old Sacramento, and Sacramento heritage. Organization of these files was kept in original
order created by the donor—alphabetized by the first letter of the article title.
Community development, Urban
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration
Residential real estate
Lathe, Roger Lee, 1933-2009
Old City Guardian
Sacramento Old City Association
Southern Pacific Railroad