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Slow progress at Stone House

Bracing and boards to close the opening of the north wall collapse were installed last week, seen here. This week, the repair was completed with additional wood on the exterior.

Bracing and boards to close the collapse at the top of the of the north wall, seen here, were installed last week. This week, the repair was completed with additional wood on the exterior.

Things are going slowly at the Stone House, but they’re going.

Workers with State Parks’ construction unit this week (through Aug. 22) finished bracing and enclosing the collapse on the north wall, and continued work on the foundation for the steel studs that will back up the existing sandstone walls.  Work has been sporadic, first delayed by a rattlesnake on the third floor, then by the complexity of working with the fragile, 158-year-old structure.

Fortunately, there have been no delays caused by archaeological finds. All dirt displaced by the trench for the foundation was removed from the building and sifted for artifacts before being returned to the building. The site was home to Native Americans for hundreds of years, off and on, but since the soil was disturbed when the house was originally built in 1856, no major finds are expected.

Meanwhile, the Trust is working with the California Cultural and Historical Endowment to get an extension of a $200,000 grant that’s helping to pay for the work. The original deadline to spend the money or lose it was March 1, but an extension until Sept. 1 was granted.

Unfortunately, only $25,000 of the funding has been spent to date, and with the new deadline looming the Trust has requested a second extension. The CCHE has been extremely understanding and cooperative, and it now appears a continuation until early 2015 will keep the funding in place at least that long. The slated completion of the project, originally estimated to be in October, will not be met. It’s unclear what the new date will be.

The Trust is continuing its fundraising efforts to ensure as much construction as possible can be done during the current project. An on-line fundraiser that has raised more than $1,100 is on-going, and can be reached at this link: bit.ly/1q85Mwb.

 

Works starts, pauses at Stone House

 

By Richard Wisdom --A California State Parks wildlife monitor peers down from the third floor of the John Marsh Stone House Monday. The good news is the bird nest found earlier was no longer a concern; the bad news was that the eggs were eaten by a rattlesnake that must be removed before work can continue.

By Richard Wisdom –A California State Parks wildlife monitor peers down from the third floor of the John Marsh Stone House Monday. The good news is the bird nest found earlier was no longer a concern; the bad news was that the eggs were eaten by a rattlesnake that must be removed before work can continue.

Work began Monday on the long-awaited stabilization of the John Marsh Stone House Monday, but was stopped again Tuesday to deal with a well-fed rattlesnake.

The $790,000 project on the 158-year-old sandstone mansion in Marsh Creek State Park near Brentwood is being closely monitored by on-site wildlife experts, Native American representatives and archaeologists. At Monday’s final pre-construction meeting, the construction team learned that a nest with pigeon eggs found two weeks earlier would not pose a problem, as the eggs had been eaten by a rattlesnake.

After digging a few test “pot holes” prior to work on the foundation, it was decided to suspend operations until the snake, which had taken up residence on the third floor, could be caught and removed.

The work is expected to take 120 days, barring significant delays. State Parks Archaeologist Richard Fitzgerald on Tuesday said the house sits atop ancient Indian burial sites and 7,000 years of archaeological history. “You can probably dig up artifacts with your toe,” he said. Although fragments are expected, significant findings in the area of the project are unlikely, as the ground was disturbed when the house was originally built.

Dirt from the project is being removed from the building in buckets, sifted, and returned. Human remains will be turned over to the Bay Miwok tribe for reburial.

At the same time, the John Marsh Historic Trust is working close last-minute funding gaps that could total $50,000. Should delays be significant, cost of construction would also increase and have to be covered, according to Trust President Gene Metz. Contributions can be made via credit card or PayPal on this site.