An effort is underway to save a historic home that once belonged to a founding father of Kern County. The Jastro House in downtown Bakersfield may be moved or demolished.
The biggest issue is money. The historic house needs to be moved, but it also needs a massive facelift. It is estimated both would cost $500,000.
Once home to a Kern County pioneer, the Jastro House on 20th Street has seen better days.
"It's in really, really bad shape, particularly in the inside," explained Bill Alexander, owner of the house.
The historic landmark is abandoned and boarded up. "Most of the windows have been destroyed or knocked out," continued Alexander.
The house was built more than 130 years ago. It was originally owned by Henry Jastro who served as Chairman of the Kern County Board of Supervisors for 24 years. Jastro was the son-in-law of Colonel Thomas Baker, the founder of Bakersfield.
"It's a piece of Bakersfield that can never be replaced if we let it be torn down," said Dianne Sharman, a kindergarten teacher at Piute Mountain Elementary School.
"It is the oldest home in Bakersfield. If we don't take advantage and save this piece of history, it will be lost forever," said Glenda Rankin, owner of Rankin Ranch.
The two-story, Gothic Victorian house was bought by Bakersfield attorney Bill Alexander in 2010. Alexander's office is next door to the Jastro House. His plan was to restore it.
"One of the purposes in buying the home was to attempt to preserve the house. All of the estimates came in so high, it looked like that wasn't real feasible," said Alexander.
Alexander says estimates show it would cost $400,000 to $600,000 to restore the house. Because that is so high, Alexander hopes to donate the house to the Kern County Museum.
"They will not accept the house as a donation unless it's moved, delivered, and mounted at Pioneer Village and all the funds necessary to restore it have been committed," explained Alexander.
Alexander said he can't commit to that. But, the museum is also facing its own budget constraints. "With the museum changing from a public entity to a private entity, revenues are a big issue. We really have to look at our budgets and what would be the cost of this," said Randall Hayes, Director of the Kern County Museum.
If no one accepts the home, Alexander said he will ask for permission to demolish it. The Kern County Museum Board of Directors will meet Monday to weigh their options.
"We have to be fiscally responsible and historically responsible. So, we have to balance those two to make it work right," continued Hayes.
If the museum accepts the house, a plan to relocate it would have to be approved by the county.
If Alexander decides to demolish the house, he will have to get permission from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.