Friday, 19 July 2024

Historic stage stop committee looks forward to next steps, open house

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Jackson Equipment Co. works earlier this year on cutting a new road through the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum property in Kelseyville, Calif. Photo courtesy of Greg Dills.





KELSEYVILLE – Later this year community members will have the chance to peek inside the renovated version of one of Lake County's most historic buildings.


Work to complete the Ely Stage Stop and Country Museum, as it will be officially known, has been under way for more than a decade.


Now, members of the building's volunteer committee say they hope to hold an open house this fall to let the community see the museum's progress.


In July 2007 the building – one of the oldest stick-built structures in the county, tracing its history back to about 1856 – was moved from its original location on Highway 29 to a five-acre parcel donated by vineyard owner Andy Beckstoffer and located on Soda Bay Road, as Lake County News has reported.


Last year, a group of dedicated community members – including Greg Dills, Wilda Shock, Marilyn Holdenried, Broc Zoller, Keith Petterson, Jim Bengard and Syd Stokes – formed to work with Holdenried on the Kelseyville Pear Festival's pear pavilion.


That group stayed together and began working with Dills and Gerald Shaul, the county's retired Public Works director, to raise funds, organize events and facilitate the effort to create the museum.


Zoller said the members wanted to help take some of the work off of Dills, who had been shepherding much of the effort and is the committee's chair.


Critical partners in the effort are the county of Lake, its administrative officer, Kelly Cox, and Public Services director, Kim Clymire.


The county actually holds the land for the museum, and Cox said at a July 16 committee meeting that the county has set aside $50,000 for improvements, including interior carpentry work that is set to start soon. Dills said the museum has another $50,000 for work on the property.


Once complete, the stage stop building will house the headquarters of the Lake County Historical Society, the committee said. The society signed an April 2007 memorandum of understanding with the county to lead the fundraising efforts.


Since last year, the building has had a new wraparound porch added to it, and earlier this month a new parking lot that is Americans with Disabilities compliant was completed and striped, Clymire said.


The stage stop project has received significant donations of time and materials from local businesses, Dills said.


Jackson Equipment Co. of Middletown donated work to cut a new road through the property in June, and later submitted the lowest bid to do the parking lot, Dills said. The company also helped clear stumps and mow on the property slated to be a new park property in Middletown.


Dills said DeLeon Civil Engineering did the engineering work to clear the permits for the road work and the first barn's concrete pad. Kelseyville Lumber is working on a materials list for the project.


Realistically and optimistically, Clymire said the stage stop building itself may be completed by next spring.


Dills said the full buildout of the property will extend years beyond that. Plans include five barns – all of which were donated – which will house historical farming equipment, also donated by the community.


There has been discussion of building an outdoor amphitheater on the property, and Dills said they would like to create a full-size replica of the historic Bartlett Springs gazebo, which was burned down by an arsonist in July 2007.


The group is interested in seeing any historical photos community members may have of the Ely Stage Stop. They also are seeking volunteers, and donations of materials and funds to continue the work.


More details about the open house will become available closer to the event, the committee said.


To find out more about donations and volunteering, or to share historical materials, contact Dills at 707-263-4180, Extension 12, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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