As much as I’ve heard about the famous architect Julia Morgan and the North Star House that she designed, I had never seen the actual house and surrounding property. Last week, Land Trust Executive Director Cheryl Belcher gave me a tour of the house and its environs.
It looks as if the Land Trust got the place in the nick of time! It is a shame to think that such a historic treasure has been left in shambles and obviously used for years by squatters and drug addicts. The Land Trust has removed tons of garbage from the house, cut back vegetation that had overgrown nearly everything, and torn down parts of the house that were added by later tenants, to get back to the original Julia Morgan design.
The North Star House itself is undergoing an intense renovation to bring it back to its original 1905 glory. As Cheryl told me, “The house has good bones.” There are marvelous stone pillars, expansive fireplaces and wonderful vistas visible from many of the rooms in the 12,500-square-foot house.
One incredible story about this important restoration project has to do with the volunteers. Cheryl said she’d never seen anything like it. The volunteers are asking to work more days and more hours! The day I came by, several volunteers old enough to be collecting Social Security were scrubbing, scraping and hauling. This restoration is not easy work, believe me.
Once again it makes me proud to live in a community where the worth of old buildings is recognized and people give freely of their time. And I can’t write about the North Star House without mentioning the generosity of Sandy Sanderson, who gave the 13 acres the house sits on. What a gift!
In addition to the main house, the property contains the Hague House, Gardener’s Cottage, Assay Office and stamp mill footings.
The Land Trust is holding a concert on Aug. 21 featuring Leo Kottke and Tuck and Patti called “Stars at the Ridgetop.” You will take a bus from the Rood Center to the private land where the show will take place. Call 272-5994 for tickets or more information.
Also, a free tour will be happening this Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Call the same number to reserve a spot on the tour – they’re every first and third Saturday.
I would encourage you to see the Julia Morgan house now so you will fully appreciate the restoration. And think about volunteering – the volunteers look like a great bunch!
Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at 477-4292.
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