LCAC leases historic Mason House, library

By C.J. Barbre

Back in the Feb. 9 issue of the Lindsay Gazette it was announced that the City of Lindsay had offered to lease the Mason House, a classic California Bungalow/ Craftsman-style house neatly located between city hall and the library to the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council (LCAC) for a dollar a year.

And Mayor Ed Murray said they could also have the library building next door when it was vacated by the county in a year to 18 months.

At the July 12 city council meeting the lease agreement was included in the council packet. An Agreement of Lease of Premises dated July 1, 2005, leased the Mason House at 147 N. Gail Hill Ave. and the library building next door at 165 N. Gail Hill to the LCAC for 20 years for $1 per year, with an option to extend for an additional 10 years.

This was an exciting concept for everyone involved as the city had found a desirable tenant for a couple of fine old buildings conveniently located between city hall and the department of public safety while the LCAC could terminate what had become a seemingly never-ending journey in search of a suitable home at an affordable price.

Now the fun begins.

LCAC is responsible for all maintenance, repair and upkeep of the premises including all building interiors and exteriors, all exterior structures and attached equipment and fixtures. Written into the lease was the need for new exterior paint on both buildings; ADA compliance issues; termite and settling issues related to the Mason House; and repairing a leak on the northeast corner of the porch area of the Mason House.

At the LCAC monthly board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, board member Bob Tienken said he has spent the last six weeks trying to find an available building contractor. With almost the whole county in a building boom, he wasn't having any luck. Then it turned out that Lindsay contractor Vahnn Blue was available to repair the roof and porch ceiling which Tienken said has a lot of dry rot. Blue had quoted a price the board found acceptable so that will be one of the first things repaired.

A select committee has already met with EBM Design of Visalia which has become the city's main architectural and landscape design outfit. City Manager Scot Townsend told the LCAC they could use a chunk of lawn (up to the angled sidewalk) beside city hall. Select committee members said it could be made into a garden.

In a phone interview, EBM landscape designer Bill Gurnae confirmed that they had started talking basic ideas and may develop a public gathering space on the edge of the east side of city hall. "That' s probably the bigger priority," he said, but said they were also talking about some plans for the exterior of the old library with an outdoor patio/courtyard as a bridge between it and the Mason House, connecting through to the back. He said EBM would be donating their services.

The city has agreed to maintain new landscaping.

Gurnae said the garden would probably have old fashioned turn-of-the-century type plants. "Hydrangeas, that kind of thing more than anything, but who knows. It depends on how things layout." He regretted that a couple of sycamore trees had been cut down that would have provided needed shade and said trees are a primary consideration. He also sees the use of a fan connected to relatively inexpensive misters as a less expensive way of getting mist distributed fairly quickly compared to the cost of high pressure misters. He said such devices can drop the temperature 10 degrees.

"Hopefully this will create a vision of a master plan to help people see what they want to donate toward this effort," Gurnae said. "Both are really neat historic buildings." He said EBM had encouraged the arts council to find true California Bungalow/Craftsman-style colors to use on the Mason House. He added that the new Lindsay Library has moved up the priority list and he expects it will be started sooner than Mayor Murray's prediction, but admitted he didn't know for sure.

Back at the meeting, board member and in-house graphic artist Judyth Dreiger had researched Craftsman style paint samples on the internet which she ended up printing out on her color printer after failing to locate any information from local paint dealers. "On the Sherwin-Williams website, you choose a wall color then it automatically gives an accent and trim color." Dreiger had cut and pasted about two feet of samples together. She explained that an accent color would be used on something like the front door. It was agreed to use Lindsay True Value Hardware to purchase any paint because owner Art Serna is so supportive of local non-profits.

Tienken said he would get bids on painting the exteriors.

LCAC President Pam Kimball said maybe they could have a free-standing pergola in the courtyard EBM had suggested. Outdoor art exhibits was another suggestion. Board member Gary Meling said they could rent the space for parties. He said the fact that they had a kitchen was a big plus. Kimball said all they were waiting for was for the mayor to sign the lease.

"I have the key and will redo the locks," Meling said.

"Then we can get started on the cleaning party and all kinds of fun," Kimball concluded.

The Lindsay Cultural Arts Council board meets at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Interested parties are invited to attend. Until further notice they will continue to meet at their gallery, located at 145 E. Hermosa St.

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