More than 50 guests and volunteers gathered at the historic North Star House to learn about restoration projects completed throughout the year and plans for the coming years.
The house is being prepared for the holiday season, and details showcasing the restoration work done last year were shared by board members of the North Star Historic Conservancy, which hosted the festive event.
An updated Internet connection with enhanced broadband was completed so weddings, reunions, lectures, parties, concerts or other events can take advantage of the needed technology, according to Richard McRae, a North Star Historic Conservancy board member.
“This was an extension cord city. It was actually very dangerous. When I first came here, there was an extension cord for outside lights. If you had put your hand on it you would have burned yourself. We’re in much better and safer condition,” McRae said.
A building permit was recently obtained to restore the second floor, which was an important step, according to David Wright, an architect and Conservancy board member.
“The space upstairs is larger than the space downstairs, so it’s a big project,” Wright said. “There will be classes and an art gallery. This will really put us in the position of being able to educate people in a real, true cultural center.”
Many events are held outside on the grounds and in the front yard, so these areas were prioritized to improve aesthetics and safety.
“Most of our events are held out there in the courtyard, and that’s the rental income. That’s what rebuilds the house. It’s a very symbiotic relationship,” Wright said. “We decided to invest in it to make it more attractive and safer because of the squirrel holes… I’m sure it will Some high heels got in there.”
Restoring the wall panels was a complex process, and several layers had to be carefully secured to prevent them from splitting over time, according to McRae.
“It will split the first time it gets to 32 degrees, so all the panels are floating now,” McRae said.
Installing the shingles on the exterior of the building’s second floor has taken a long time but has made progress, the mantle over the main fireplace is being installed with twisted framing, and the library roof is scheduled to be completed sometime next year.
The irrigation system turned out to be a larger project than expected.
“We actually went into the pipe using a machine to clean it out. The two-inch diameter pipe was lined with dirt, (only allowing) a half-inch diameter,” McRae said.
The process involves cutting and snaking pipes from the inside and is a priority because irrigation is essential for lawns and plantings.
Three windows in a room off the main room were restored by MacRae himself who took the pieces home for carpentry.
The final touches of varnish are then applied to the study and living room. “We have a volunteer who came in after Christmas, and she learned the craft of lacquer like no one else,” McRae said.
It takes five coats of paint and a top coat to bring the right color.
Lights have been installed on the display cases in the Julia Morgan Room, and plans to replace the asphalt around the building and parking lot are underway.
Cherian Kutzera, Vice President, introduced Project Brick, an opportunity for individuals to purchase wooden “bricks” with a custom brass plaque as a lasting reminder of donor generosity.
The wood brick was salvaged from the home’s original trim, according to Kutsera.
Holly Mitten, our newly appointed Executive Director, has a background in nonprofit work.
An office manager was needed, so Alyssa Sequeira was appointed to the position.
History of the province
In the early 1900s, the house was used to entertain socialites and mining investors visiting San Francisco, but over the years it was used as a home for troubled youth. The house then stood empty for nearly 20 years and was left prey to vandalism.
In 2002, Dryden Wilson, a former PG&E employee, bequeathed $880,000 to Nevada County to support the protection of open space and parks.
A land trust has been established to preserve the North Star House and another project, and money is now available to make basic structural repairs, put on a new fire-resistant roof and make the building watertight, according to the website.
After passing through the hands of several developers, the North Star Historic Conservancy was formed as a non-profit organization in 2007.
Located at 12075 Auburn Road in Grass Valley, the North Star House was designed by Julia Morgan in the early 1900s.
Morgan designed and built more than 700 buildings, including private homes, schools, churches, YWCAs, and much more, as well as major building complexes such as Hearst Castle and the Asilomar Convention Grounds.