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It took a certain vision, or perhaps blindness, to see the potential at 314 Bodega Avenue.

The debris-filled bungalow no longer had any foundation. The roof was sagging. Built plainly to begin with, it was not blessed with the enviable architectural details, like fine woodwork and heritage tiles, that inspire preservationists and remodelers.

In fact, the city of Petaluma had tagged the house as uninhabitable.

But when Rick Young saw that red sign, he was filled with dismay and intense desire. He had had his eye on this little diamond in the dumps for a long time. He called City Hall and asked the code enforcement officer to leave a message with the owner that he was interested. And not just in tearing it down. He wanted to rescue it and shower it with love.

“Tear it down? What, are you kidding me? This house is great,” he remembers thinking. “I bet they thought I was crazy.”

Young got the call he coveted and got to work.

Two years later the forlorn bungalow looks almost exactly as it did when Frank B. Thomas, a mill worker at The Golden Eagle feed mill, and his wife Mae, moved in right after World War I in 1919. They reportedly bought it for $10.

In recognition of the remarkable transformation, the local architectural preservation organization, Heritage Homes of Petaluma, selected the project for a top Award of Great Merit. It was one of 10 residential and commercial renovations singled out for honors at the organization's biennial awards ceremony in September.

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Posted in: Remodeling


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