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New restoration work begins this this fall for the John Marsh House.

BRENTWOOD -- After decades of fears surrounding its stability, the 158-year-old John Marsh stone house near Brentwood will be secured later this month by California State Parks.

The long-anticipated stabilization project is scheduled to begin July 14 and will take nearly four months to complete, according to the John Marsh Historic Trust. The $755,000 project will secure the house's fragile sandstone walls to steel studs and heavy construction foam to prevent further deterioration.

"All of the inside work will be bracing the walls to a new steel stud system. This will be permanent, and when it is completed, the system will protect the house in perpetuity to even minor earthquakes," said trust board president Gene Metz.

Marsh was Contra Costa County's first American settler and the state's first doctor. The 1856 house was built from sandstone quarried near Brentwood, and it was the first stone manor house constructed in California.

The Marsh house, located at 21999 Marsh Creek Road, will eventually become the centerpiece of the planned 3,700-acre Marsh Creek State Park, which will include 70 miles of trails, campgrounds, equestrian access and RV facilities. To complete the project, the trust must raise an additional $49,500 to be combined with grant money and construction funding from the state.

"If you have ever considered supporting this effort, now would be the time to do it or do it again," said trust Executive Director Rick Lemyre. "Donations received now will have a huge impact on the future of the stone house as well as the Marsh Creek State Park."


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More than 3,000 people have contributed to saving the house, according to Lemyre. The trust is also collaborating with State Parks to acquire funding and partnerships to open portions of the proposed state park in stages.

"This project will buy us time to complete the fundraising we must do to finish restoring the building and get it open to the public," Lemyre said. "We won't have to fear total collapse while we broaden our effort to also open parts of the Marsh Creek State Park where it is located. A beautifully restored house won't be very useful if people can't get into the park to visit it."

In 2010, the house's south wall was replaced after it had fallen decades earlier. Since then, the top of the north wall has started failing, and it will be repaired and secured through this project.

The north wall will be the first phase of the project followed by the remaining walls, Metz noted. He added that the construction is being done by the state, and a celebration of its completion is planned for Oct. 11.

"We continue to be amazed at how many people are not even aware of the house and the new park," Metz said. "We have a lot of work to do to let people know about the house and the amazing park. It is going to be a wonderful attribute to the entire area."

Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

donations
To make a tax-deductible donation to the John Marsh stone house using PayPal, visit http://johnmarshhouse.com or mail a check to John Marsh Historic Trust, P.O. Box 1682, Brentwood, CA, 94513. Donations can also be made at www.razoo.com. For more information, call 925-679-5811 or send an email to marsh1856@yahoo.com.