John and his wife Matilda came to Riverside in May of 1887 to join his brother Dr. Joseph Jarvis, who came to Riverside with George Chaffey in 1877 and started a migration to the city from Ontario, Canada.
John T. Jarvis was Horticulturist and a real estate agent. In 1890 he became an insurance agent for Home Mutual Life Insurance Company. In 1892 he founded the real estate firm of J. T. Jarvis and B. B. Bush, the most prominent in the city. In 1895, he organized the People’s Abstract Company and was its president for 12 years. He also became the county assessor in 1895. At one point, Jarvis owned a store on Main Street that was taken over by Gaylor Rouse and became a part of Rouses Inc., the flagship department store business.
John T. Jarvis was partners with Emil Rosenthal and together they bought 10 acres of land at the foot of Mount Rubidoux at the height of the 1884-1887 boom years. They subdivided the property and Rosenthal commissioned Boggs to build a house on a portion. The balance of the property was to be a 240-room grand hotel, called The Rubidoux, overlooking the balance of the subdivision. When the economy crashed, Rosenthal sold his house plans and seven lots to Jarvis and left Riverside. Jarvis completed the house, although he ran out of money and ended up paying the builder, Charles T. Rice, with some lots from land he owned in the Castleman Tract. Today it can be seen near Evergreen at 4492 12th Street.
During the financial panic of 1893, Jarvis was such a successful businessman that he came through it very well. John served 12 years as city councilman and became mayor of Riverside in 1925 and served one term.
John died January 3, 1932 of a stroke a year after his wife passed away. Family continued to live in the house until 1974. The family donated the house to the City of Riverside but they returned it after only 6 months, saying they were unable to fund a suitable restoration. The house was then sold to the Rose Family who refurbished it and lived there for over 30 years.