The History Behind the Noriega House
In 1872, just before he turned 16 years old, Faustino Mier (Noriega) immigrated to the United States from a small town named Santander, off the northern coast of Spain, near the Pyrenees Mountains. Faustino arrived in America sailing through New York City, around Cape Horn and eventually on to San Francisco. His final destination was Tulare County where he would come to work for his uncle, Vincente Noriega, a sheep herder, and take his uncle’s surname.
Faustino Noriega became a successful businessman and in 1893 partnered with another Basque immigrant named Fernando Etcheverry and together they opened the Iberia Hotel, which would later be known as the Noriega Hotel. That same year, Faustino married Louisa Inda on February 14th and they started a family. In 1900, Faustino and Louisa built the Noriega House on Baker Street at a cost of $1,286.10, where they would raise their five children: Marcellena, Julia, Christine, Frank and Albert.
The Noriega family maintained nearly an acre of land around the beautiful house, and primarily used the property to support Basque immigrants coming into Kern County to start a new life in America. The Noriega’s built other residences on the property to the east and south of the main house, which were occupied by extended family or were used as rental property. The estate at one time also included a summer cookhouse and a large garage.
The historic Noriega House is a 4,400 square foot Queen Anne Cottage. Considered lavish for its time, the house was finished with gaslights and was heated by one fireplace and four radiant stoves. Constructed of wood and sandstone bricks with 14 feet of ship-lap siding above the masonry walls, the house has five chimneys, four gables and two grand porch entrances. The house also boasts a root cellar that is still in use today. The classic arched doors and windows are a testament to the design and craftsmanship of a historical architectural period that once dominated classical home construction.
Direct descendants of Faustino and Louisa Noriega lived in the house and maintained the residence as recent as early 1996.