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Pearl Chase Society Launches Petition Drive To Save Decrepit Franceschi House From Demolition

Historic house on Santa Barbara's Riviera faces demolition without any funding or a plan to preserve the building

The Franceschi house, built in 1905, has fallen into such disrepair the city is considering demolishing the building.
The Franceschi house, built in 1905, has fallen into such disrepair the city is considering demolishing the building.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

The Pearl Chase Society has launched a petition drive to help save the historic Franceschi House on Santa Barbara's Riviera.

The home, a combination of the work Francesco Franceschi and philanthropist Alden Freeman, faces un uncertain future if the Pearl Chase Society cannot figure out a way to preserve the home. It would cost several million dollars to restore the dilapidated home.

In addition to the the petition drive, which accumulated more than 200 signatures in just three days, preservationists are talking with big financial backers and attempting to formulate a plan for the house. 

"In Santa Barbara we have benefited from many, many gardens; We have many parks that are garden-like parks, and we have some historic buildings too, and here is a park that surrounds a historic building that we should keep," said Rick Clausen, a member of the Pearl Chase Society. 

The Craftsman-style house was once the home to Francesco Franceschi and his wife, Cristina, who purchased the property in 1903. Franceschi sold the house to philanthropist Alden Freeman in 1927. Freeman then donated the property to the city in 1931.

The city and the Pearl Chase Society have been partners for the last 15 years in a failed effort to restore the home to its original luster.

In 2001, the city had committed to paying $300,000 for the rehabilitation, and the Pearl Chase Society would undertake the planning, development and fundraising to rehabilitate the house, and provide a $250,000 maintenance endowment.

Now, however, it's estimated to cost several million dollars to restore the home.

Some neighbors of the house in the 1500 block of Mission Ridge Road want it destroyed; they say it is unsightly and a fire hazard. 

The Pearl Chase Society is soliciting signatures and funding to save the historic, yet decrepit, Franceschi house from demolition.
The Pearl Chase Society is soliciting signatures and funding to save the historic, yet decrepit, Franceschi house from demolition.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

In June, the Santa Barbara City Council agreed to delay a decision on demolition and hear alternatives.

The Franceschi family built the house in 1905, before selling it in 1926 to Freeman, "an eccentric socialist millionaire from New Jersey." Freeman remodeled the house into a Mediterranean style, adding several cherished medallions to the house. 

Preservationists hope the community, including the city, will come together to find a way to preserve the house.

"We should keep the house or a significant portion of it as a remembrance of Franceschi and Freeman," Clausen said.

"It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. It can be both. We just have to put our thinking caps on." 

To sign the petition, click here.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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