Ely Stage Stop prepares for move

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The Ely Stage Stop will soon begin its historic move to its new home along Soda Bay Road, where it will be the centerpiece of a new museum. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

KELSEYVILLE – A long-held dream of many local history lovers is beginning to take shape.


Within the next two weeks, the Ely Stage Stop – believed to be one of the county's oldest stick-built buildings – will begin its move from its current location along Highway 29 to its new home as a museum on Soda Bay Road.


The stage stop was built around 1859 to 1860, said Eric Seely, the county's deputy redevelopment director.


Seely probably knows more about the stage stop than anyone. Since joining the county a year and a half ago, he's worked with the Lake County Historical Society to make the project a reality.


Before than, he worked for two years on the project while employed by Beckstoffer Vineyards – who owns the land where the building is currently located, and donated the building to the county.


Beckstoffer also donated a five-acre parcel and a one-acre easement along Soda Bay Road where the Ely Stage Stop and a new museum will be located.


The county will own the building, said Seely, but the historical society will operate it.


Seely and members of the historical society met at the museum site Friday evening to go over the project's status and walk the property.


It was the last of three public meetings in the process of developing the museum's master plan, Seely explained, which is necessary in order to finalize the site and get grading and building permits.


The stage stop building will set atop a hill along Soda Bay Road. Historical Society President Randy Ridgel pointed out that the view is to die for, and he's right: the museum will look out across a meadow framed with oak trees toward the slopes of Mt. Konocti.


“For a change, the actual site is more dramatic than the artist's rendition,” said Ridgel who, along with wife Jackie, have worked to make the dream a reality.


Below the museum, situated so as not to obstruct that incredible panorama, will sit four historic barns that will house historic farm equipment and other implements and displays, Seely said.


Greg Dills, who chairs the historical society's Ely Stage Stop committee, said they have one barn that needs to be moved by the end of August. He's also wrapping up negotiations on the other barns, he said.


The project won't be done all at once, Seely explained. “We're doing this project as funding permits. We're doing it in stages.”


The first phase will include the house move and installing a new roof, Seely said. Future phases will include a wraparound porch; the house's complete restoration with modifications to make it adhere to existing building code; and developing water, power and phone utilities.


“We're still looking at a couple of years,” he said.


The house originally didn't have a kitchen, said Seely; that was in a separate building. While they know a lot about the house, they haven't been able to find photos of it dating before the 1940s.


As much as possible, original materials are being saved for reuse. The house's chimney will eventually be reconstructed with the original bricks.


Two of the original windows are still extant, and will be used as template for new windows to replace missing windows, Seely said. Shortly after Beckstoffer donated the building, one of its largest windows, made with a type of wavy glass common in old homes, was broken by a vandal who tossed a brick through it.


The historical society, said Seely, has received “very substantial” financial contributions to support the stage stop museum. They've also received a lot of help in the form of volunteer time.


The house will begin its move this next week, Seely said. A Bay Area contractor who received the $60,000 contract to move the house will take it west to a staging point where it will be moved across the highway in preparation to travel cross country.


Officials including Caltrans, AT&T, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the county, the contractor who is moving the house and the subcontractor will meet at 10 a.m. July 18 at the site where the house will be moved across the highway to finalize their plans.


At about 6 a.m. Sunday, July 29, Highway 29 will be closed for a few hours as the house is moved across the highway, said Seely.


The next day, Monday, July 30, the house will begin its trek overland, Seely said, moving around springs, crossing one creek on a specially constructed bridge, and continuing to its hilltop location.


“The big day is going to be the final push up the hill,” said Seely.


The house move is likely to last about a week in total, Seely estimated.


To learn more about how you can help the project, contact the historical society at its Web site, http://lakecountyhistory.org, or contact Seely at 263-2580.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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The view from the site where the stage stop building will sit. The land for the museum and the stage stop building were donated by Beckstoffer Vineyards. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.