It was -- shocking to those who would see it for the first time, to others it was like the face of an old neighbor.
But now, the old Bloom Farmhouse that for so many years was situated along South First Street is nothing but a pile of wood and rubble. The developers of Heritage Commons, the 120-unit senior housing development, demolished the home over the holiday weekend to make room for Phase 1 of the project. Before the demolition, the Dixon Fire Department used the structure for a training exercise, Dixon Fire Chief Aaron McAliser confirmed.
"We didn’t have any live fire there we had talked to the property owner about using it for a live fire burn ... that just never came to fruition," McAlister said. "We did end up using it the week of May Fair and we did some ventilation training and we did some truck training, placing the ladder on the second story of the house."
Since Spring 2009, the Bloom House had a large sign affixed to it that read “Free Home. This Home Needs a Good Home. If You Can Move It, It’s Yours.” And ever since then, the phone of David Thompson, of Neighborhood Partners, one of the developers of Heritage Commons , has been ringing with offers from would-be homeowners.
“I probably had about 150 calls about the house,” Thompson said. “But regretfully, nobody had the money to move the house according to the regulations that we are under because we have federal financing. As a result, nobody ever stepped forward that was willing to do that. It was going to be very expensive for somebody. They can have the house for free, but they have to pay.”
Thompson explained that anyone who wanted the home would have had to have $50,000 or more for all the required permits and the actual act of moving the home.
“House moving is not a very low cost,” Thompson said. “As far as I know it has to follow various regulations of the Solano-Yolo Air Quality District. Remediate for led-based paint and asbestos and they have to move it appropriately.”
Thompson said that some callers had plans in mind for the home, but couldn’t prove that they had enough money to move it or couldn't provide proof that they had a proper location for it. Thompson asked each potential homeowner to show him that they had some seed money - $15,000 – to move the home safely, but no one ever did, he said.
“There was all sorts of people who came forward, some of the things (they wanted to do) were quite fascinating,” Thompson said. “Some people wanted to strip it down just for the wood. Somebody wanted to take it all apart and ship it to the Philippines because it was less expensive than building a house over there.”
The old farmhouse was a sign of the way that Dixon was 100 years ago. Once home to the Blooms, a family of dairy farmers in Dixon, the structure stood directly across the street from the Valley Glen Subdivision. Behind the farmhouse stood the new Dixon High School and a large field that would eventually be developed into Heritage Commons.
The home had holes in its roof; graffiti on its walls; chipped paint; had massive weathering issues; and was in overall bad shape.
“It was an OK house,” Thompsons aid. “It had been vacant for about, close to 15 years. And so there was substantial weathering because some people had made holes in the roof. It was something that somebody could have fixed up and done things with but they would have had to spend a lot of money.”
Somehow, the home struck a chord with Dixonites who say that it’s a piece of Dixon’s history that can’t be brought back.
Here is what some of them said on our Facebook page, right after we posted a picture of the rubble left after the development company demolished the home:
"No! It was a 100-year old piece of history. It's a shame it could not have been protected and restored. I'm genuinely sad :( " -- Rachel Tendora
"It definitely should have and could have been saved as a valuable piece of Dixon's history/trademarks. What's next? The milk farm sign?? Whenever I travel and come home, I'm instantly at ease when I see that song I know I am HOME. That house could have been a museum of Dixon's history with pictures, documents, maps, etc. What a shame." -- Toni Anderson
"That's too bad if I had the money I would have moved it and restored it . Love the rich history behind old houses now a days every house is cookie cutter. :( " -- Justine Granillo
Thompson said that back in 2005, when the City of Dixon approved a development agreement for Heritage Commons, it requested that the developers attempt to incorporate the old farmhouse into their design of Heritage Commons. But Thompson said that it would prove too costly to meet accessibility requirements and other building standards. This is why he offered the home to anyone who could move it.
Back in 2010, when Community Development Director David Dowswell told Dixon Patch: "It is historical to the people who know the Bloom family. It isn't architecturally unique, but from a community's perspective, it is historical because the family has a strong presence in the town's history."
The Bloom Family were prominent dairy farmers in Dixon with strong roots in the community.
According to records at the “John R. Bloom was born in Dixon on Dec. 7, 1870. His parents were John Bowers Bloom and Nancy Hall. John was married to Irma Bloom and they were farmers south of Dixon, California by the fairgrounds. They had a son, John K. Bloom , born in 1922. His daughter, Sharon Bloom Jahn, submitted this information. John R. Bloom was the grandmarshall of the first May Day Parade in 1875. Irma Bloom was a Dixon High School Teacher.”
On Friday, May 18, Davis-based Neighborhood Partners and its development partners broke ground on Phase 1 of Heritage Commons, which will bring 60 one-bedroom apartments for senior housing in Dixon. The first phase of the project should be complete by next spring Thompson said.
Phase 2 of the project will bring an additional 60 units of senior housing to the project. Heritage Commons will also include a community center complete with a community room, kitchen, courtyard, co-op shop and indoor seating area.
Developers are also planning to build a shopping center across the road from Heritage Commons along South First Street.
As far as the fate of the Bloom House goes, Thompson said: “Its regrettable, we would have loved to have done it, and I responded to almost every call that came in. A lot of people had wonderful stories of what they were going to do but nobody could assure us that it could be moved.”
And now we ask you to join the conversation. Was the home an eyesore? Should the developers have incorporated the home within the scope of Heritage Commons? Would you have liked to have seen the home preserved in some way?