WALNUT CREEK -- A shipping tycoon's former vacation home is now Rossmoor history.
The California State Parks' Office of Historic Preservation last month approved recommending that the Stanley Dollar Clubhouse in the gated community for seniors be placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Within the next few months, the national board will place the blue-and-white house built in the 1930s on the national register.
A group called Save Our Stanley, concerned with the fate of the clubhouse, spent nearly $10,000 to get it on the historic register. With a $12 million events center now under construction on grounds in front of the house, some seniors worried about the eventual fate of the old clubhouse. Officials in Rossmoor, however, say demolition of the house was never planned.
The Save Our Stanley group wanted to block the events center, or at least get the city to re-examine the project, and hoped a historic designation would help that cause. While the designation doesn't stop construction of the center, clubhouse enthusiasts say they've won a small victory nonetheless.
"We have succeeded in losing," said Bob Dickson, member of the group. The designation draws attention to the house, and he thinks it's more protected then it was before.
A few times a week, Dixon monitors the construction of the events center to make sure it's not crossing the line onto Dollar grounds.
"Having a national register property, particularly in Walnut Creek, where there are only two or three others in the community, is something of note," he said. "It does illustrate to prospective residents a real sense of history and a representation of the roots of the property."
Perhaps this is a bit of a turnaround after a historical report commissioned by the Rossmoor administration as part of the city's approval process for the events center asserted that the site was in fact not historic. Now, improvements likely will be made to the clubhouse.
Back in its heyday, the house was used for conventions of the Young Republicans. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, former governors, senators and secretaries of state are listed to have stayed in or visited the house.
The designation, without a local historical preservation ordinance, doesn't do much, said Jay Correia, a historian with the state's historic registration unit. But it raises awareness and is the first step in managing the property as historic, he said. Any improvements to the house, he added, could also be eligible for federal tax credits.
But in Rossmoor, the uproar over what some considered a controversial new building is not over. The group is now working on getting new board members elected who will be more fiscally conscious, Dickson said.
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.