Carlo Figliolini didn’t learn about the rich history of the white stucco Kenwood home he rented decades ago and his parents later bought until the walls started to crumble. He said no one seemed to know that Peter Maroni — one of the four Italian stonemasons who built St. Rose Church, the Western Hotel and La Rose Hotel in Santa Rosa — constructed the two-bedroom house on Shaw and Clyde avenues more than a century ago.
“I asked the neighbors, but nobody knew about it,” said Figliolini, 61, who now lives in Santa Rosa. “Not even the previous owners knew of the history of the house.”
The 1,480-square-foot home, which was built around 1896 and designated a historic county landmark in 1981, could be torn down, though, if the Figliolini family get county approval to do so. The home was heavily damaged in the Napa earthquake last August, and the Figliolinis now want to rebuild.
“It damaged it right to the bones,” said Carlo Figliolini, who carefully walked around the home one morning, pointing out the deep cracks throughout the exterior. He learned about the house’s history in the course of a study required as part of the application for a demolition permit.
Although the epicenter of the Napa earthquake was nearly 30 miles away last summer, the shaking caused so much damage that the two-story structure was deemed too dangerous to inhabit and the tenant was forced out, said owner John Figliolini, 86, of Manalapan, N.J.
“Since the earthquake, that was it,” he said in a phone interview. “He had to move from the house because it was not secure.”
A Sonoma County engineer noted the extensive damage in a report, provided to the county Landmarks Commission, which is expected later this month to vote on whether or not to approve the demolition. Much of the western wall has bulged out, while a section between a window and the roof is “in imminent danger of collapse,” county senior engineer Kevin Berger said in the report. He said parts of the exterior have cracked and buckled, but it appears the stucco has kept some stones from falling. Berger also noted that sections of the wall are unstable and may fall at anytime.
Inside the house, the lower level concrete floor had cracked and the chimney shifted.
Carlo Figliolini said the home was constructed as a speculative building and made out of lower quality stones. They also weren’t stacked tightly, he said.
While the house “only hints” at Maroni’s talents, it still holds historical significance, a county report shows. An architectural historian who conducted a review of the property said it “retains enough historic integrity to render it eligible for listing in the California Register (of Historical Resources.”
Figliolini contended that the structure’s historic qualities would be lost in a retrofit, which would cost more than $1 million. He said the work would be too intrusive and extensive to fix the house, requiring concrete reinforcement for the stones to shore up the crumbling building.
“It wouldn’t be the same house. It wouldn’t show any of Peter Maroni,” he said.
County staff argued in a report, however, that the architects, engineers, contractors and preservation consultants the Figliolinis hired “did not adequately explore” restoration options. They said the shell of the home is in good shape for restoration.