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Bringing back the North Star House

The task of raising the millions of dollars required to restore the historic North Star House in Grass Valley got underway Wednesday, with a civic event honoring a $300,000 outside grant.

Even the first grant is not going to cover all the expenses to study and draw up blueprints for restoration of the North Star House built by Julia Morgan.

“It seems like a lot of money, but it’s amazing how fast it goes,” said Joe Byrne, president of the North Star Historic Conservancy.



Community members and government officials met at one of Julia Morgan’s earliest arts and crafts buildings to join tours led by the Nevada County Land Trust and the conservancy.

Four years ago, Oregon developer Sandy Sanderson gifted the 14-acre property to the land trust. Famed female architect Julia Morgan built the house for the superintendent of the North Star Mine, Arthur De Wint Foote, and his family. His wife, Mary Hallock Foote, was a well known illustrator and author.




In August, the land trust was awarded a $300,000 grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment.

Up front, $50,000 will be used to pay for a historic structures report. Two companies, the Architectural Resource Group of San Francisco and Page and Turnbull of Sacramento, have submitted proposals to do the work.

“It’s in poor shape. It’s had so much neglect, but it’s definitely a worthwhile house to restore,” said Karen Lial, from Page and Turnbull, at the gathering.

Byrne estimates an additional $75,000 will be needed for a master plan for landscaping of the grounds and a history of the property for docents to use.

Another $50,000 will pay for a planning group to plot out ways to raise money for restoration as part of a “capital campaign.”

Administration will cost $50,000, and any remaining money will go toward construction drawings or blueprints of the restoration work. Byrne estimates architectural drawings to cost between $300,000 and $500,000.

“We won’t even be able to complete all of the plans even with $300,000,” Byrne said.

Restoration work will cost an estimated $5 million to $6 million, Byrne said.

“I do emphasize that all the money won’t come from Nevada County,” instead it will come from grants and charities raised locally, regionally and nationally, Byrne said.

Standing in the courtyard before the stone pillars and wood-shake siding of the old house, volunteers and distant relatives of Arthur De Wint Foote recognized the enormity of the project ahead.

“It’s just such a long way to go with this place. It’s sad they let the rest go to wreck and ruin. It’s got a lot of money to go,” Donna Foote said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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