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.