Roger L. Lathe Papers

Finding aid created by Center for Sacramento History staff using RecordEXPRESS
Center for Sacramento History
551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.
Sacramento, California 95811
(916) 808-7072

Descriptive Summary

Title: Roger L. Lathe Papers
Dates: 1961-2002
Collection Number: 2012/036
Creator/Collector: Lathe, Roger Lee, 1933-2009
Extent: 8 boxes (9.25 linear feet) of archival material
Repository: 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 Sacramento Bee 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 recommendations.
Language of Material: English


The collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights

All requests to publish or quote from private manuscripts held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted in writing to the archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.

Preferred Citation

Roger L. Lathe Papers. Center for Sacramento History

Acquisition Information

Received from the Sacramento Public Library (via Liza Mehler), on October 17, 2012 by the Center for Sacramento History.

Biography/Administrative History

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 midtown Sacramento. 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 Sacramento Bee, 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 Resource List.” 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 Sacramento Bee, 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.

Indexing Terms

Building inspection
Building materials
Community development, Urban
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration
Historic neighborhoods
Historic preservation
Residential real estate
Sacramento (Calif.)—History
Lathe, Roger Lee, 1933-2009
Old City Guardian
Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Old City Association
Southern Pacific Railroad

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