Efforts have been underway for many years to restore the Bayley House to its original glory. But raising the funds proves to be a difficult task since the structure will take a considerable sum to rebuild and furnish it as a living history site.
Early in 1977 the firm of Alexander & Baldwin donated the Old Bayley House and its surrounding grounds of 10 acres to El Dorado County as a gift, with the expectation that it would be restored to accurately reflect the era in which it was built, with a use that is complimentary to its historical background. The original County plan for the Bayley House called for the structure to be converted into a bed and breakfast inn or similar attraction.
In 1980 a developer began renovating the building, but after five years of excavating a trench along the rock foundation, he lost a loan and abandoned the project. The renovation attempt left the house without balconies, windows or doors, and weakened walls and cracks in the already fragile brick facade. The County sold the Bayley House in 1989 to the Georgetown Divide Recreation District for $1.
The vision of the Georgetown Divide Recreation District is to develop the building into a museum related to the area's history, with local Master Gardeners restoring the heritage flower and vegetable gardens, vineyards, and orchards. A branch library, a community center, a cooperative artist's gallery, or any other public serving purpose could be incorporated into its use upon renovation.
El Dorado County designated the Bayley House as a historical place. Then in 1978 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, after being nominated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. On the National Register, the House is eligible for various State and Federal grants for historical structures. Being listed also gives the site a great deal of status, because a nomination must first go through the State Office of Historic Preservation, and if they like it, only then does it go on to the folks in Washington D.C. to be considered for placement on the National Register.
While owned by Alexander & Baldwin, a structural engineer was commissioned to undertake a full set of restoration working drawings which are available for review by interested persons. Restoration was estimated at $800,000 to $1 million in 1988. Although the building has been gutted and stripped by renovation attempts and vandals, samples of interior fittings, balustrades and the like have wisely been saved, so it's just a matter of remilling them. Also, a good idea of how it was furnished has been provided in writing by Lillian Lafaille, who grew up in the house in the early 1900's.
The Recreation District has considered utilizing State bond grant funds to stabilize and weatherproof the building, which could generate enough community interest and support to organize a private non-profit effort to complete the restoration of the building.
What Can You Do?
All those wishing to donate funds, equipment, supplies, and/or labor are asked to either:
- Contact local leaders and tell them you support this worthy project.
- Attend one of our monthly meetings.
- Donate materials, skilled labor or financial support
- Assist us in securing corporate and private donations and support.
Your help is greatly appreciated! So are your comments, questions and suggestions. Please contact us!
You can be an important part of the team that brings back to its original glory for all to enjoy!
Why Is This Project Important?
- The Bayley House resides on the National Register of Historic Places
- Called 'The best example of Classical Revival architecture on the west coast of the United States' by The Historic American Building Survey.
- Site of the first Grange Hall in the Western United States.
- Directly connected to our Gold Rush history
- Useful facility for public functions
- Beneficial to our local economy
- Legacy to our children
What Is Being Done Now?
Friends of The Bayley House is a non-profit organization sponsored by The Georgetown Divide Recreation District. They have garnered grants totaling almost $400,000 and are currently applying for additional funds.
Although slow, progress is being made with the help of The State Office of Historic Preservation, an architect, and a specialized commercial contractor who has worked on major restoration projects throughout California & Nevada.
A three phase plan has been developed by engineers, committed volunteers and The Georgetown Divide Recreation District.
Stabilization and Weatherproofing
Exterior and Interior Preservation and Rehabilitation
Establishment of a Museum and Cultural Center
Phase 1 of the restoration is expected to begin in 2007
Note: Although the building has been gutted and stripped by renovation attempts and vandals, samples of interior fittings, balustrades have wisely been saved, so it's just a matter of re-milling them. Also, a good idea of how it was furnished has been provided in writing by Lillian Lafaille, who grew up in the house in the early 1900's.