Letter to the Editor from Friends of
Roswell Butler Hard House
Click here to see photos
(exterior and interior)
probably safe to say if you asked a majority of Antioch residents
who Roswell Butler Hard was they would have no idea. In fact Mr.
Hard was one of the most influential, and by some accounts, most
powerful figures in Antioch’s early history. He was a county
supervisor, county Sheriff and the first Mayor of Antioch.
In 1869 Mr. Hard constructed a two story brick home for himself and
his wife on First Street in Antioch. It was described in the
newspapers as one of the most beautiful and costly homes in the
county. The home was constructed entirely of brick manufactured in
Antioch. It served as the meeting place for the first city council
in the newly incorporated City of Antioch. Later the home became the
first property in Antioch to be listed on both the State and Federal
Registry of Historic Sites.
In 1979 the property was purchased by the Antioch Redevelopment
Agency. Over the years it has sat empty and has been allowed to
deteriorate to its present dilapidated state. Due to poor security
it has been vandalized and is frequently occupied by the vagrants.
At present the property has become both a legal and financial
liability to the City of Antioch.
In 2009 a group of concerned Antioch citizens formed the Friends of
Roswell Butler Hard House. It is a 501c3 non-profit registered with
the State of California. Our mission is to work for the preservation
and restoration of the Hard house. The group includes the former
city engineer and a former city council member as well as people
with project management and fundraising skills. After almost a year
of research, planning and meetings we presented our plan to the City
Council in May of 2010. The proposal was that the city would sell
the property to the non-profit for a nominal fee at which time the
group would assume legal and financial responsibility for the home.
Our restoration plan was based on study prepared for the city in
1991 by a San Francisco architectural firm. The planned uses
included converting the upper floor to offices to help defray upkeep
costs with the ground floor restored to its original appearance.
When completed it would be open for tours and available to the city
and community for special events. The project would require no city
funding. The plan also allowed the city to recover the property in
the event certain milestones were not met. It appeared to be a
win-win for the city, the citizens of Antioch and the home. Instead
of the enthusiasm that was expected, to our surprise the proposal
was met with “we can’t appear to give away a city asset” and “we
can’t afford another ferry boat”. The plan was sent back to
committee. Then it was delayed by the city council election and the
city budget talks. Our group has waited patiently and are now ready
to resubmit their plan at the July 12 City Council meeting.
We urge everyone to take a few minutes, drive down town to First
Street and look at the home. It’s hard to miss. It’s the one with
boarded up doors and windows and overgrown grounds. Ask yourself as
an owner of this property, am I proud of this? Then imagine it
restored to its original grandeur.
If you share our vision please come to the July 12th
council meeting or phone or e-mail your council members and voice
President, Friends of Roswell Butler Hard House
Contact Information for City Council |
City Council Agenda 7/12/11 |
Hard House Staff Report 7/12/11