Historic conservancy secures ownership of North Star House | TheUnion.com

Historic conservancy secures ownership of North Star House

Board members from Bear Yuba Land Trust and North Star Historic Conservancy came together last week to recognize the transfer of ownership of the historic North Star House and the 14 acres it sits on. From L-R: Bill Trabucco, Marty Coleman-Hunt, Peggy Levine, Alex Szabo, Cheryl Belcher, Susan Kane, David Wright, Larry Dulmage, Carole Miller, Andy Cassano and Joe Heckel.
Courtesy photo |

Last week, ownership quietly changed hands for one of Nevada County’s most historic buildings, the North Star House, designed by famed architect Julia Morgan more than a century ago, reaching a major milestone in the building’s history.

On Aug. 6, Bear Yuba Land Trust transferred ownership of the 10,700-square-foot mansion and the 14 acres it sits on to North Star Historic Conservancy, finalizing the terms of a 2007 agreement between the two parties.

“The transfer of the property culminates many years of effort by our community. Having ownership furthers the community’s vision of restoring this historic gem and opening it for public use,” said conservancy President Joe Heckel.

Originally donated to the land trust for permanent protection in 2003, the primary goal for the property in the early days was to save the deteriorating North Star House from ruin.

In 2007, the North Star Historic Conservancy, an independent nonprofit organization, was created to oversee the rehabilitation and operations of the North Star House.

Once the conservancy met certain conditions, such as demonstrating at least $1,000,000 of donated labor or materials to the property, the title could be transferred.

In March 2015, it provided documentation that all conditions for transferring the title had been met.

With title now in hand, North Star Historic Conservancy will continue to rehabilitate the historic North Star House and grounds with the goal of transforming it into a premier cultural event center.

“The progress on the house and grounds from the time I first saw it in the early 1990s is unbelievable. This national treasure was clearly brought back from the dead by the hard work of both BYLT and NSHC. Our board is thrilled to see the dream of this transfer realized by both of our nonprofit organizations,” said BYLT President Andy Cassano.

“It’s a huge milestone. Both BYLT and NSHC needed to make progress on many fronts before it could be transferred and for community use to be stepped up.

That has now occurred. Now, going forward, the focus will be different,” said BYLT Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt.

A deed restriction will ensure the 14 acres are never developed for private commercial purposes. BYLT’s responsibility is to ensure that the deed restriction is followed.

As property owners, the all-volunteer conservancy is now eligible to apply for grants and reach out in fundraising efforts, helping to position the up-and-coming cultural event venue for the next era, moving from a restoration project to a sustainable business.

Today, the house and grounds are used as a year round public gathering place for community events like Nevada County Certified Growers Market on Saturday mornings, weddings, theater productions and nonprofit fundraising events for organizations like the Fire Safe Council, South Yuba River Citizens League and BYLT.

“We can satisfy quite a few needs. One of the things that is really nice is our property offers both indoor and outdoor settings which not all venues can offer,” said NSHC board member Peggy Levine.

Over the years, and countless volunteer hours, the house has slowly regained some of its former glory. Volunteers painted over graffiti on walls and installed new windows.

Work on the lower floor will soon be complete showcasing new doors, windows, flooring, lighting, a new “catering kitchen” and office, bathrooms with flushing toilets and a central heating system for cold winter months.

The Bear Yuba Land Trust will host its 25th Anniversary Celebration and Dance Party with Latin jazz by Pete Escovedo on Aug. 23. The North Star Historic Conservancy will hold its annual fundraiser, House Party at the North Star with Lorraine Gervais and her Love Bombs, on Aug. 29.

For more information, visit http://www.northstarconservancy.org or http://www.bylt.org.

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