It has faced the wrecking ball more than once — and survived.

Now the Peacock House in Hart Park has a whole new life ahead of it.

At a small gathering Wednesday morning in front of the Depression-era adobe structure that has crouched on the east side of Hart Park since 1939, Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard announced that the county of Kern is committed to saving and repurposing the modest building.

To those who fought to save the historic adobe, Maggard's words were a revelation.

"We're doing this with community development funds," Maggard said to the group that was probably most responsible to raising awareness about the historic house — and ultimately pushing for its preservation.

It wouldn't have happened, he said, without the vision of many of those present, representatives of the Hart Park Working Group, the Kern River Parkway Foundation and other organizations and individuals.

"Bidding will start in March 2020, construction will begin in April 2020," Maggard said. "Our goal is to have it completed by June 2020."

The house, built in 1939 by the Depression-era WPA just 10 years after the park was dedicated in 1929, has been in danger of demolition for years, but those interested in preserving the history of the park and its landmarks have fought to keep the house standing.

Bill Cooper, co-founder of the Kern River Parkway, recalls driving through the park in 2009 when he saw crews demolishing one of the adobe buildings next to the Peacock Adobe.

"I stopped and asked what the (expletive) was going on and the contractor said he was going to take them all down. I told him to stop and started making phone calls," Cooper remembered.

Later county officials told him he had to take it by lease because they had no plans for it other than demolition as it was deemed a seismic hazard and an eyesore.

"I leased it through the Kern River Parkway Foundation and struggled to find a purpose and help on it," he said.

The foundation had the property surveyed, and insured, had a conceptual plan completed, had a qualified engineer develop a seismic retrofit plan — but struggled with a real-use plan and, of course, money.

"The county offered nothing," he said. "I eventually gave up the lease and accepted the fact that it would be demolished."

Enter the infamous $5 parking fee proposal for Hart Park.

According to Cooper and Maggard, the idea to charge an entry fee at the park had a positive effect: While it was rejected by overwhelming public response, it renewed local interest in a regional park that had been neglected for years.

Now the vision is to transform the structure into an attractive amenity in the park. As an interpretative and visitor center, volunteers will operate the center, adding information and education to the visitor experience.

Ann Gallon, a member of the working group, asked Maggard if the half-million dollars earmarked for the project will remain in Kern County by employing local contractors and workers. Maggard answered in the affirmative.

"I'm sure it will," said the county supervisor, adding that he didn't think the job would require bringing someone in from out of county.

Maggard lauded County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop for not only backing the plan, but setting in motion multiple other improvements at the park, from repairing and remodeling restrooms to developing trailheads, fencing and signage.

But once the Peacock House project is complete, the job of operating the center must be done by volunteers. And he challenged those present to come through big time.

"We have to find volunteers ... people with vision, on how to use the building," he said. 

There are many possibilities, he said. But time is short.

"We need to act with a sense of urgency," he said. "The opportunity exists now to get this done. But we can't let our foot slip off the gas pedal."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(6) comments

REMUDA

" . . . demolition as it was deemed a seismic hazard and an eyesore."

As usual . . . no Kern B&S legacy monuments.

Glad it still stands (adobe) so heritage can be observed . . . and teach us . . . to persist . . . and endure . . . with (R)IGHTEOUSNESS . . . !

Stephen

Kern County has tremendous natural resources far too many of us know little about. Our lack of appreciation of what we have is reflected by the carelessness and indifference of those who leave their trash about and spend time and resources vandalizing and graffitiing the community.


On the government side insensitive assessment of our assets by making poor maintenance and preservation decisions or insensitive short sighted development of structures and signage without consideration of the bigger picture contribute to this.





Our assets that often attract out of the area including world wide tourists need more exposure and the miles long Kern River Parkway corridor with its native plants and animals deserve affirmation and celebration. This long abandoned building, a 2 bedroom house designed by local architect W. Francis Parsons intended for a live-in staff park ranger, will help accomplish this.


palooloo

Let's help our county bird out. It's one of the things I like to boast about Bakersfield to outsiders. "We have fat pigeons in LA/SF. What do you have?" We say proudly, "Peacocks". Hart park needs not only the peacock house revamped but all their restrooms.

JOPESTKIL KENYA

Nice plan. But not to their detriment. Other options are also welcome

RefereeB

Maggard - darn spell check!

RefereeB

Sounds great. Hart Park is a huge asset to the county’s residents. Certainly hope that vandalism and the homeless don’t take it over! Kudos to Mr. Alsop Mr. Maggie’s and those involved for finding funding and fighting to push this project through.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.