Old Purple Thumb Works

Old Purple Thumb Works is a 2000 square foot building in Manila, California, on the spit between Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean, with Arcata and Eureka each withing a few miles to the North and South. Most of the building is the workshop / studio for artist Steven Vander Meer and Meer Image, his art rubber stamp business. A quarter of the building is an apartment that can be rented by guests for short stays. When occupied, a large barn-door closes off the self-contained apartment from the workshop area.

Humboldt Pulpworkers


Constructed in 1965 on a third acre parcel, the building served as a Church of God of Prophecy until 1977, when it was purchased by the Humboldt Pulpworkers. The Pulpworkers were a union for the pulp mills that operated on the peninsula for many years, but have since shut down. This photo shows the building as it looked in 2011, with "Humboldt Pulpworkers" carved into a burl hanging high on the front. Steven and Carol Vander Meer bought the decrepid, moldy, leaking, weed infested building in the spring of 2011, and embarked on a year-long, intensive renovation.

Solar Power

This is a "net-zero" property. That means the photovoltaic solar panels on the roof generate the same amount, or more, of electricty used in a given year. It's tied to the grid, so when excess power is generated, it pumps into the grid and our meter literally runs backward. When using but not generating power, we draw from the grid. But after a given year, it balances out.

The hot water, including both domestic and that which is pumped through the radiant floor, is heated with an electric air-source heat pump. It works like a reverse refridgerator. Even in cooler weather, there is enough heat in the air to be harvested and transferred into the water.