While it appears that everyone else has given up, resident Chris Parkinson is on a mission to save the Pearson House and turn it into the art museum.
Parkinson announced that he wanted to raise funds to relocate it and turn it into an art museum, something he says the city lacks. Shortly after the City Council voted on Jan. 29 not to repurpose the 1880s home as affordable housing or a city employee dorm, at a cost of $65,000 to move it and $857,000 to restore it. That leaves the fate of the home of early Mountain View businessman Charles Pearson in the hands of developer Roger Burnell. Burnell is set to build a four-story office on the property at 902 Villa Street and wants the home moved or demolished soon.
Parkinson, who works in real estate and is the chair of the city's visual arts committee, has enlisted the support of Mountain View artist Alexander Dzigurski II.
"As a lifetime Mountain View resident, I think the city is sorely lacking for the visual arts," Dzigurski told the Voice, adding that the city "definitely needs" an art museum.
Burnell told the Council on Jan. 29 that any delays to his project could come with significant costs, but said in an email Tuesday that he is exploring the idea of relocating the 1,100 square foot home for an art museum.
"We have been working since late last evening, and again since 5 a.m. today to see how it could be done," Burnell said. "There are many technical, timing, and political/legal hoops that would have to be navigated, but at the same time I have art in both my background and patronage, so we are doing whatever we can to see if this plan can gain realistic traction."
Parkinson is hoping that art collectors will want to pitch in to raise nearly $1 million to move and restore the home. Dzigurski's oil paintings of the Big Sur coastline and Yosemite Valley have fetched as much as $12,000 a piece, and he's planning to donate three of them to be auctioned in a fund-raising efforts for the museum. Parkinson notes that the sort of folks who have bought Dzigurski's paintings include a Saudi prince and "wealthy people up and down the Peninsula."
Parkinson said the Pearson House could be moved to one of two city-owned lots on Shoreline Boulevard near Eagle Park. That is where council members expressed a preference for relocating the tiny "Immigrant House" that also sits on the property Burnell is trying to redevelop.
The immediate challenge will be quickly getting City Council support for the move to a piece of city land and then coming up with money to move the home.
"There is an opportunity to save a historic piece of Mountain View and convert it to a lasting legacy for the visual arts," Dzigurski said. "It's a win-win situation."