Behrens-Eaton House Museum
It’s Redding’s own time machine. The Behrens-Eaton House Museum is a trip back to a simpler and more elegant time where you can explore and learn about part of Redding’s history while enjoying the grounds’ spectacular gardens.
The home museum is open for touring from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 1 to 4 pm on Saturdays. Judge Richard Behrens Eaton left this 19th century house as a living monument to his ancestors’ time in Shasta County. Tours of the two story home are led by docents. Each room has a special story about who lived there and events that took place. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. More information can be found at www.eatonhousemuseum.org.
Eaton, a longtime judge in Shasta County, died in 2003 and ensured that his home at 1520 West St. in Redding be preserved to allow the public to “step back in time.” It’s run by his trust with three governors – one from the Shasta Historical Society, one from Shasta College and one from the legal community – who were tasked with restoring the home and bringing back the original furniture.
“The museum is a jewel for the community according to CSPAN,” say trustees about the cable channel which ran the film.
The filming highlighted the four children raised in the home, including Edna, Ella and Earl Behrens and Richard B. Eaton. Both women were highly educated, one would become a school teacher while both were businesswomen. Edna was elected as Shasta County Treasurer and served for 16 years. Earl, who was Stanford educated, later became the political editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. Richard practiced law and was appointed to the bench.
Judge Richard Behrens Eaton was born in 1914 to Walter Eaton and Edna Behrens in Oregon where Walter worked as a surveyor. Judge Eaton’s grandfather, Charles Behrens, was elected Shasta County Sheriff in 1898 and moved from Shasta to the West Street home as the sheriff was mandated to live in Redding.
The house, lot and grand piano were purchased for $2,500 and that original deed is on display in the home along with many other historic papers and books.
Judge Eaton’s father joined the Army during World War I after also being a veteran of the Spanish American War. Walter Eaton contracted the Spanish flu in Ohio, where he died.
Upon the death of her husband, Edna Behrens and young Richard Eaton moved from Oregon back to Redding, where he was raised in the West Street house by his mother, aunt Ella and his grandmother. Stories of his upbringing are on display for visitors of the Behrens-Eaton House.
The museum is staffed by volunteer docents, many of whom dress in period costume for events. The gardens have been replanted and are “thriving,” while the home is meticulously restored and the furniture original.
In 1940, with the World War II looming, Judge Eaton having been in the reserves at Stanford, served in San Francisco as a Captain. He volunteered for overseas duty in 1942, shipping out to North Africa as a first lieutenant. Judge Eaton began practicing law in 1946 in Redding after serving his country in World War II. Serving his country was one of his proudest accomplishments. Judge Eaton spent most of his adult life serving the residents of Shasta County.
“As you can tell, we are very proud of what has been accomplished through the efforts of the community,” museum curators say. “Just touring this authentic family home reminds us of our history.” And while Judge Eaton spent most of his adult life serving the resident of Shasta County – including his tremendous support of the Boy Scouts of America and his Church – he wasn’t the only one in the family to give of themselves to the North State.
In addition to Sheriff Charles Behrens, Judge Eaton’s mother Edna was the Shasta County Treasurer for 16 years. His aunt Ella was one of the first female bank tellers at Shasta County Bank, which would later become the Bank of America. And Uncle Earl Behrens was the political editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and asked multiple times to run for office. His clout, however, was undeniable and he even received the Medal of Freedom from President Richard Nixon.
Behrens-Eaton House Museum || 1520 West St. || (530) 241-3454 || www.eatonhousemuseum.org