Mountain View Voice

Opinion - May 20, 2011

Pearson house doesn't rate historical status

by Robert Pollak

There have been a lot of comments in the media and in acrimonious City Council meetings about moving the "Pearson House" from its present location at 901 Villa Street to the Cuesta Park Annex, where it would be refurbished and displayed as a historical house.

Some persons have opposed this plan because it would destroy the open space aspects of Cuesta Park. Others focused on increased costs for various reasons, including more automobile traffic, loss of trees, and more. Proponents, mainly the Historical Society, the developer, and City Council, think it's a good idea because it frees the downtown parcel to build an office/retail building (read revenue enhancer).

I searched for information about why this house in particular has any historical significance, and the only reference I could find is that it is listed on the city's register of historic places. Because of this listing, it falls under stringent remodeling restrictions. Other than being an old house (about 125 years old, according to the developer who wants to buy the site), I couldn't find any compelling reason to single it out for preservation. I'm not familiar with the way homes get listed in this register, but there must be a way to de-list it. It should not have been placed on this list.

A Web search for Pearson House produces one photograph of part of the house. Perhaps it would be of interest to the community to see the house in its entirety, with its dilapidated roof and terrible disrepair. Why would anyone want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair this termite-infested shack?

Here is Wikipedia's definition of a museum and a historical house:

"A museum is an institution that houses and cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary."

"A historic house may be a building of special architectural interest, the birthplace or home of a famous person, or a house with an interesting history."

The Pearson House doesn't seem to fit this description.

If we have objects of historical significance, let's see them, and if they merit display, let's place them in a modern building designed as a museum, and not in a refurbished residence. We already have reconstructed the historic Rengstorff House in Shoreline Park. Why does Mountain View need another one?

Robert Pollak

Middlefield Road

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