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124-Year-Old Decker House Facelift will Give Homeowners an Affordable Taste of History

Published on Monday, December 5, 2016 | 6:24 pm

The house was moved once already in 2015, for its protection during construction of the nearby 70-unit Heritage Square complex for low-income seniors by Bridge Housing 


The Historic Decker house located at 750 N. Fair Oaks Avenue will be strapped up and transported up the street to its new and permanent location as a part of an ambitious affordable housing development set to open in 2018.

The Queen Anne style house, which was constructed in 1892 and designated a city landmark in 1998, has sat vacant for over a decade in Northwest Pasadena and is gearing up to to receive a full restoration that will provide two affordable units in conjunction with a larger development that intends to revive the city’s old into something vibrant and new.

“We’re very happy that this historic resource is going to remain in Pasadena and that it will provide first-time homebuyers the opportunity to invest and put down roots into the community,” said Dept. of Housing Director William Huang, who noted it’s “almost impossible” for low to moderate income individuals to acquire property in Pasadena.

The city-owned Decker House is the former home of the cigar shop owner Frank Decker and his wife Anna, for home’s first occupants after it was built in 1892. It is revered by many as one of Pasadena’s treasured Victorian-era buildings.

The development of a 70-unit Heritage Square complex for low-income seniors by Bridge Housing required the temporary relocation of the Decker House for its protection during construction.
The Decker House is already moved into the adjacent lot next to the three acre Heritage Square site and is temporarily situated behind a Church’s Chicken that is bounded by Orange Grove, Fair Oaks, Painter and Wheeler Lane, according to Huang who says the house is currently in bad shape and in need of a full restoration.

The City recently teamed up with Heritage Housing Partners, a local non-profit affordable housing corporation founded in 1998 that promotes long-term affordable homeownership through the preservation of existing historic homes and the construction of new, contextual single-family residences to draw up plans to re-locate the house up the street to a new site.

“It’s essentially a ‘gut rehab,’ but we will preserve the exterior siding and the windows and any other interior features,” said Heritage Housing’s Executive Director Charles Loveman.

There are two projects being developed side by side at the newly secured location at 1661 N. Fair Oaks, just blocks from the Heritage Square location, where the Decker House will permanently reside in coming months.

The city proposed to offer up to a $450,000 loan or grant to help the relocation and restoration process.

The development will feature 16 new units with the Decker House accounting for two separate two bedroom units totaling approximately 1,200 square feet each.

“I think we’re realistically around six to nine months away from breaking ground,” said Loveman. “This will be 2018/2019 completion.”

The entire project at 1661 N. Fair Oaks is estimated to cost around $11.5 million with a grand total of approximately $600,000 to move the Decker House, situate the house on a new foundation and rehabilitate the structure to current standards, according to Loveman.

The renovation will include a new foundation, plumbing, roof, mechanical systems and much more.

“We’ll probably have to repair or replace the structure because it’s most likely not built to code,” said Loveman who explained that the wooden structure has more than likely deteriorated from age and weathering.

According to a document released by the Housing Department, historic architecture will be carefully combined with contemporary architecture to create a striking contrast that accentuates the best qualities of each style.

“The new architecture doesn’t mimic the old, rather its sympathetic, or compatible, with the historic quality,” said Huang.

Pasadena Heritage’s Executive Director Sue Mossman is relieved and excited to see the Decker House stick around and take on a whole new life.

“It’s one of our oldest residential properties still standing and it represents the pre-1900 Victorian Era chapter and we don’t have much left from that time in Pasadena. Preserving historic buildings is one of the most economically sounds things that we do and Pasadena is such a unique and rich environment in large part because we have this history,” said Mossman on behalf of Pasadena Heritage whose mission is to identify, preserve and protect the historic, architectural and cultural resources of the City of Pasadena through advocacy and education.

It is still undetermined how the Decker House will be transported — a feat that can include being separated into two or more pieces or hauled in a complete fashion.

Loveman said that HHP is experienced in coordinating and executing these moves and the Decker House is not the first time they have done something like this.

“We’re working with our contractor and house mover to figure it all out,” said Loveman.

The two Decker House units are expected to be put on the market in the low $300,000s.

“For the same cost, you get something that’s got a lot of history and a lot of character and our experience is — given a choice between a new unit and a historic unit of the same quality — our home buyers prefer the historic unit,” said Loveman.




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