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Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007

5/19 What’s going on with the Redman House restoration?

By Dean Coley

The Register-Pajaronian Speak Out column recently featured a question regarding the status of the Redman House restoration. On behalf of the Redman Foundation Board of Directors, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, I would like to describe the current physical condition and appearance of the house and offer some additional information regarding the Redman House rehabilitation and the proposed visitor and education center.

Since January, construction crews have been removing the stress load, such as chimneys, lath and plaster walls, doors, etc. in preparation for the “liftoff” of the house for its new foundation. These materials have been stored for future repair and reuse.

The Redman House remains a strong candidate for rehabilitation and if we are awarded the funds from our California Cultural and Historical Endowment (Proposition 40) grant request, along with matching funds from private donors, restoration can begin by the end of this year.

The Redman House Restoration Project began in 1998 by a small group of citizens committed to saving this once majestic 1897 Queen Anne Victorian home that had been deteriorating over the years.

All donated funds have been used for the property purchase and historic designation, property operating expenses including construction of the produce stand, expenses, such as creating and maintaining a Web site (www.redmanhouse.com), and professional consulting and engineering services which are required by the Department of Interior Standards of Rehabilitation of Historic Properties and the County of Santa Cruz. (The Redman House is not located within the city limits of Watsonville.) The Redman Foundation does not have a paid staff. Our board members and volunteers all donate their time to the project.

It is important that current and potential donors to this project, as well as all residents of the Central Coast, be aware of the entire project master plan. In addition to restoring the Redman House, the non-farming acreage surrounding the house will be developed as a Regional Visitor and Education Center for the use of the community and visitors to our area. It will feature a Japanese-American Heritage Exhibit in honor of the Hirahara family who resided there for more than 50 years, a Carriage House Wine Tasting Center, Formal Gardens and Gazebo for weddings and other social events and a large replica barn for educational and cultural functions such as conferences, trade shows, concerts, art festivals, etc.

The multi-use site plan for the Redman-Hirahara farmstead will showcase the Pajaro Valley and its magnificent farming and cultural history, re-directing some of the estimated 15 million people who pass by on Highway 1 into our region’s businesses and cultural sites.

Part of that plan is already visible, as much of the land is back in agricultural production, managed by High Ground Organics, with the produce available at the farm stand.

The Redman Foundation Board of Directors is dedicated to creating an eco-friendly environment on the property in addition to the organic farming operation. We will use “green construction” techniques, permeable surfaces for paving and are planning a wastewater recycling installation for landscape irrigation. Currently, a farming education program is also in development to allow students to learn first-hand about modern agriculture.

We appreciate the interest of your caller and certainly wish we had $1 for every person who has passed by the Redman House and wondered about its future.

We ask local corporations and the community to join and support us in creating this top-notch historical, cultural and environmental venue in the Pajaro Valley.

•••

Dean Coley is the co-vice chairperson of the board of directors of the The Redman Foundation, which is dedicated to the restoration of the Redman-Hirahara farmstead. For more information on the project, visit www.redmanhouse.com or call 421-1932. The opinions of columnists are not necessarily those of the Register-Pajaronian.

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