One House, Different Purposes

City's Historic Preservation Commission will visit the Decker House Tuesday afternoon, ahead of further considerations tonight

Published : Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | 5:04 AM

The Decker House. Image courtesy City of Pasadena.

[Updated]   Sometimes, to save history you have to move it around a bit.

Such has been the experience of the vintage Decker House, which is set to become the centerpiece of an affordable housing complex known as Decker Court.

Doing that will involve moving the house from its current location at 19 East Orange Grove Boulevard to 1655 North Fair Oaks Avenue where the project is sited.

And that wouldn’t be the Decker House’s first sojourn through city streets.

It was built on a lot at 760 North Fair Oaks Avenue and moved to the East Orange Grove Boulevard spot to allow the construction of Heritage Square, an affordable senior living housing facility.

The proposed relocation site at 1655 North Fair Oaks Avenue is currently an empty lot.

The news here is the small matter of a “Certificate of Appropriateness” necessary to move forward with the project. The City’s Historic Preservation Commission will take up the matter at its May 7 meeting.

One such certificate had already been obtained, but expired. Moving history can be a little complicated too. The certificate is just one step in a run of staff reviews and approvals required before the displacement gets a green light.

This particular Certificate of Appropriateness comes with conditions. The department wants to see a plan for how the structure will be protected as it is moved and that entails dispatching a historic preservation architect to provide guidance.

Once the structure has been relocated, the City wants to see a moisture protection plan and a maintenance monitoring program instituted. The planned rehabilitation is to take place “as soon as possible” after the move to ward off further deterioration.

Finally, the project’s developers are to, “provide a final rehabilitation plan with detailed construction drawings and specifications necessary in order to assure appropriate treatment and inclusion as an integral component of the new development.”

Plans for Decker Court project involve rehabilitation of the house and the development of nine residential units.

The house was constructed in the Queen Anne style which flourished in baroque England during the brief reign of its namesake, which ran from 1702 to 1714. Its revival occurred at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century making the Decker House a product of that revival.

It was built in 1892 by contractor Richard Woods for use as a single-family residence. Later it was it was broken up into apartment units. The City Council gave it a landmark designation, and name, “The Decker House,” in 1988.

Frank and Anna Decker lived in the home, but were not its original occupants.

According to the staff report, the Decker House “features a one-story wrap-around porch with turned-wood posts’ wood siding with patterned ornamental shingles in the gable ends; corner boards, and a wide entablature on the second floor; a complex hipped roof with gables on projecting bays; tall window openings with paired or single double-hung sashes with horned stiles’ and several ornamental windows (lunette with art glass, 32-light attic windows.”

Staff’s analysis said the building’s new location that is compatible with the house’s original character, setting and use.

Whereas the current neighborhood has turned into a high-density area, staff said the site of relocation is “more similar to the low and medium density residential development that surrounded the house’s original context and, as such, the site of the proposed relocation is compatible with the original character and use of its original context.”

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