If you haven’t seen the “Dragon House” in Sacramento, it’s time to take a field trip. This property in the Curtis Park neighborhood is truly one-of-a-kind to say the least. Local artist Raymond Gage was the man behind the elaborate tile work and design, and in this post I interviewed his son, Steve Gage, to get some background on the artist and the house. If you have questions, post them below. Enjoy.
Location: Near the corner of 3rd Ave and 22nd Street (on 22nd) in Sacramento.
Where was Raymond Gage born?
He was born and raised here in Sacramento. Grew-up in the downtown area and graduated from Sacramento High.
What was your Dad’s occupation?
Art Teacher and Department Head, Elk Grove High 1959-1975 Art Teacher, Bryan College, Dayton TN 1971
Did your Dad own the house in Curtis Park or do the artwork for the owner?
He met Carolyn Belmore while employed for Mercy Hospital after retirement from the school district. They began a stained glass business and eventually began the dramatic creations at Dave and Carolyn’s home in Curtis Park.
What was the inspiration for the house?
I believe the ideas were from both dad and the Belmores.
How long did the project take from start to finish?
About three years.
When was the “Dragon House” created? (year)
Around 1985. It is important to know, the design was an actual vision from my father’s mind. The style and caricature of the components are clearly from my father’s mind, saying that, I recognize his style in each of them. He rolled out, cut, baked and glazed each tile. Then assembled them onto the house.
I shot this video of the “Dragon House” on a cell phone a couple years ago.
What part of the house did he start with?
Inside the home and throughout the house they did many stained glass windows and eventually murals were painted in many of the rooms.
What types of reactions did your Dad get from neighbors?
I have had discussions with many individuals who appreciate and are proud to have this in their neighborhood. I am sure there are some whom may not appreciate this expression.
How did your Dad feel about the house in terms of real estate value?
As a true classical artist, I doubt he had much energy on value.
What types of responses do you get when you tell people your Dad designed “The Dragon House”?
We are very proud and I have to admit, it is a very special treat to share this legacy with friends. Proud Son.
Did your Dad ever do anything else similar, or was this the only house?
Only this house for tiles, although our home in Elk Grove also has stained glass windows.
What other types of art did your Dad do? Did he have any formal training?
Dad was a true classic master of art. He knew much of art history as well the role and social position of art. He used most media, from oils to acrylics, watercolor, sculpture, photography, sketching on newspaper. I was privileged to be raised and taught to view this world through the eyes of an artist. It is why we moved my parents to Wilton as we raised our boys, to encourage his view into their lives.
How do you think the “Dragon House” fits into Sacramento’s art scene?
I’m not sure of the Sacramento art “scene”. Art has been altered from the standards my father taught. Art is now often judged by its ability to shock, not by exposing the artists’ vision.
When did your Dad pass away?
Can you tell us a bit more about your Dad’s background?
My Dad’s father Glenn Gage was a sheet metal for the railroad, while his Mother Erma Gage worked in the kitchen at the County Hospital (now UCDMC). When WWII began he enlisted in the army and fought in Europe, beginning at Utah Beach and ending in Austria. He was awarded a Bronze Star for actions in Luxemburg during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he returned to Sacramento and worked at the railway and later USPS. He had met Mother, at a Christian Soldier association reception in New Jersey, where Margret was from and they wrote each other throughout the war. They were married in Trenton, and she joined him in Sacramento. Margret had graduated from Trenton State Teachers College and began teaching in Sacramento at American Legion School. Raymond attended Sacramento State, and majored in Art history. He began teaching at Elk Grove High School and moved to Elk Grove in 1959. He taught there until 1975 in the Art Department, he also was the yearbook director for most of those years.
Anything else we should know about your Dad or the house?
We as a family are proud of this legacy and are concerned with its preservation and protection. The Belmores have told me the City of Sacramento is interested in preserving and potentially proclaiming it a historical home. I am anxious to secure it and assure it will be honored as historic.
Thank you Steve Gage for the interview. I hope everyone enjoyed and learned a little something. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.