Mountain View Voice

News - August 10, 2012

A new home for the Pearson house?

Owner of old farm says she has room for historic house

by Daniel DeBolt

Retired VTA light rail driver Josephine Manoli says she has plenty of room in her backyard for the historic Pearson House, the 1880s home at 902 Villa St. which may otherwise be demolished to make way for an approved office building.

The Pearson House could be a fitting addition to a collection of antiques and remnant buildings of what was once a large farm in the yard behind Manoli's 1930s bungalow farmhouse at 1181 Bonita Ave. She said she paid $4,000 to have the property declared historic.

"It seems stupid to let an offer like that go," she said of developer Roger Burnell's offer to move the home from its downtown site.

There may some technical difficulties in getting the home into the backyard, however. It would have to be brought down the driveway next door (a property she owns and rents) and it's unclear whether the house would fit without first being partially disassembled, or possibly moving a garage that sits in the way.

"If it would work, I got room," she said.

Manoli made her offer known in a letter to the editor she sent to the —Voice. She says her property was a working farm. "How many of those are left? The city can move it (the Pearson House) here and have a nice place for future generations to enjoy and learn about the past. "

"We are completely interested in Ms. Manoli's offer," Burnell said in an email. "I made a call to her right away and thank you for the connection. We are now eagerly waiting for her response. We look forward to contributing to the successful relocation of the Pearson House."

Manoli said she would be wiling to allow public access to the house on certain days of the week, similar to the Rengstorff House. If it doesn't work out, Burnell added that there is "another party interested in the historic structure" once home to early Mountain View businessman Charles Pearson, but details were not disclosed.

The City Council recently voted to allow Burnell to demolish the house if a new home for it could not be found. Members seemed willing to put the fate of the historic home in the hands of Burnell after seeing him work to save it over the last year, offering as much as $500,000 to move and restore it, said council member Jac Siegel.

Manoli said she'd also be interested in taking the "immigrant house" on Burnell's property that Marina Marinovich is trying to save. The tiny home her Croatian grandparents once lived in would be much easier to move into Manoli's backyard if it were found it to be a good place for it.

Burnell says he is continuing to work with Marinovich to save the immigrant house as well, and said in a July 23 email that he is conducting "a continued search for creative options and solutions" to save the homes and that "this concerted effort will continue until the time of any future groundbreaking" on his four-story office building.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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