A Sonoma woman who is asking $1.2 million for a small adobe house near the city's Plaza hopes the building's storied history will attract a buyer.
But what the real estate ad for the First Street East house doesn't say is that state drug agents raided the building Jan. 13 and arrested its occupant — the son of owner Anita Haywood — on suspicion of operating a methamphetamine lab there.
In light of that raid, the ad's description of the Nash—Patton Adobe, built in 1846, as a place of "mystery" with commercial potential carries an unintended meaning.
Nancy Blankinship, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker DeAnza Realty in Sonoma, said she did not intend any humor with the ad. Nor does she think the home's alleged use as a drug lab will dissuade someone from buying the property.
"The property has been cleared of any possible danger. It's not a hazard," she said Wednesday.
The house, built by H.A. Green in 1846, was where early Sonoma pioneer John H. Nash was taken prisoner by Lt. William T. Sherman for refusing to relinquish his post as Sonoma's municipal magistrate.
The home has been for sale only twice in the past century, said Blankinship. She said Haywood bought the property in 1986 for $150,000, a far cry from what she is asking for it now.
The 1,000-square-foot house has four rooms, a lean-to in the back and a covered porch. Blankinship said she struggled to come up with an asking price but in the end said she settled for the maximum amount suggested by other market experts.
"It's more like a historic art collection," she said. "It was very, very hard to come up with a price."
Blankinship said she will "absolutely" disclose the January raid on the home to a potential buyer and provide them with a copy of the police report.
Sonoma residents were stunned when authorities discovered what they suspected were the crude makings of a methamphetamine lab inside the historic house, which besides its proximity to the Plaza is within several hundred yards of a church and two schools.
Concerns about the toxicity of the chemicals found inside the house were evident by the bright orange stickers drug agents slapped on the doors to warn the public about the potentially hazardous materials.
Sonoma police did not consider the suspected lab an imminent risk to the neighborhood, however, otherwise they would have evacuated the entire block.
Kevin Haywood, 44, was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine and an added charge because the home was within 1,000 feet of a school.
Haywood was on probation, having been arrested 12 times since 2004, when police officers stopped him on Jan. 13 as part of their investigation into a spate of burglaries at restaurants within blocks of the Haywood home, where he had been staying. Anita Haywood was living elsewhere at the time.
Kevin Haywood's arraignment was continued to March 17 while prosecutors await lab tests on the materials found inside his mother's home.
Maria Haywood, Anita's daughter, said Wednesday that her mother's decision to sell the home had nothing to do with the alleged illegal activity that transpired there.
"Actually, not at all," she said. "It's something we've been considering for a very long time."