Mountain View Voice

Opinion - August 17, 2012

Possible lifeline for Pearson House

Despite its shabby appearance, there might be more life left in the historic Pearson House downtown, which now sits in the way of a planned four-story office building at 902 Villa Street, next to Chez TJ.

After losing a bid to move the 1880s home to Cuesta Annex, the City Council gave developer Roger Burnell permission to demolish the house if a plan did not materialize to save it.

But then the Voice received a letter to the editor from Josephine Manoli, who said she has space for the home on her property, if the owner is willing to move it.

We hope this will be the start of a plan to save the old green house, which Manoli says would fit in perfectly amid her collection of antiques and remnant buildings near her bungalow farmhouse at 1181 Bonita Ave., not far from Bubb Elementary School and Bubb Park.

Burnell said he is "completely interested in Manoli's offer," and that he is looking forward "to contributing to the successful relocation of the Pearson House." So far, Manoli said she has not heard from Burnell.

Hopefully, this could be the first step toward moving and restoration of this historic property, which belonged to its second owner, Charles Pearson from 1892 to 1946. An entrepreneur, Pearson owned a grocery store from 1905-1918 at 220-230 Castro Street. He had earlier owned the Old Haverty Corner Saloon on Castro and Villa, according to a report included in a recent environmental impact report done for the city.

With the offer from Manoli and another interested party whom Burnell would not reveal, the outlook has brightened considerably for saving the old home, after the council turned down Burnell's offer to move it to the Cuesta Annex.

If the house is located on her property, Manoli said she would be willing to grant public access to the home a few days a week, similar to a schedule in force now for the Rengstorff House at Shoreline. And, she added that she would also be interested in taking the "immigrant house" on the same property, which resident Maria Marinovich is attempting to save. The tiny structure once housed her Croatian grandparents and would be much easier to move than the larger Pearson House.

This is an opportunity that the city should not pass up. The City Council should do everything possible — waiving any fees that could stymie the process — to facilitate moving the home and then restoring it, as Burnell promised to do in his offer for the Cuesta Annex move. In that failed effort, the contractor agreed to spend as much as $500,000 to move and restore the home.

We hope Burnell will continue to honor that offer, rather than rush to demolish this relic, which was the home base for one of the city's earliest businessmen.

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