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It's Moving Day

Lopez Hill House

After months of planning, significant fundraising efforts, and countless hours of preparation, the historic home of long-time Tejon Ranch Manager J.J. Lopez will begin its move from Rosedale Highway at Calloway Drive to the Kern County Museum on April 20 beginning at 1:00 a.m. with arrival set for 5:00 a.m.

"The move of the Lopez house follows months of planning that began in 2007 when the Kern County Museum Authority Board voted unanimously to accept the house and began raising money to relocate this historic property to a permanent home at the Kern County Museum," says Mike Ansolabehere, foundation board chairman.

The Lopez Hill home will be banded and raised on huge metal beams, and specialized trucks will then use the beams to navigate its move through Bakersfield streets to enter the museum property south of the Beale Memorial Clock Tower. In order to minimize traffic and utility impacts, the move is scheduled for the middle of the night.

Kern County companies, individuals, clubs, organizations, and even school children rallied behind this relocation project to make this move possible. "Tejon Ranch also has been extremely supportive," says Heather Fowler, museum foundation director.

Ansolabehere says fundraising efforts will continue, and once situated in its new home they will begin restoring the home as authentically as possible. The restoration will coincide with a 2009 dedication recognizing the 100th anniversary of the home's construction.

"We start fundraising for the restoration project on April 20, and the money will be used to restore the inside and outside take it back to its original condition in 1909," says Glenda Rankin, daughter of Lavern Hill. "This is like a dream come true our mom would be so happy to know that her house had been saved and that everyone will be able to come to the museum and enjoy it."

The fundraising efforts received a significant boost when Huell Houser featured the Lopez Hill home last year on his California's Gold series. The program aired on local stations as well as on public television.

The home will be positioned directly across from the 1891 William A. Howell House, which will make it one of the first structures seen by visitors using either the museum's current entrance south of the Main Museum or the planned northern entrance closer to parking.

The Lopez Hill house is owned by Glenda Rankin, her sister, Dianne Sharman, and brothers, Arlin Wayne and Harvey Hill. The house was owned for 40 years by their mother, Lavern Hill, who worked tirelessly to preserve the home and keep the home in the family.

The original owner, Don Jose Jesus Lopez, was born in Los Angeles in 1852. He came to Kern County in 1874 at the age of 21 and oversaw the sheep operations at Tejon Ranch. He eventually oversaw all livestock operations. Lopez retired in 1909 to Bakersfield, but was lured out of retirement and continued to manage the ranch until 1929. He subsequently became a consultant.

Tejon Ranch is the largest continuous expanse of land under single ownership with 270,000 acres. Located 30 miles south of Bakersfield, the ranch has been part of Kern County since 1843.

The Lopez Hill home was built in 1906 or 1909 at the corner of California and Chester Avenues. In 1929, the house was turned to face California Avenue. Lopez' daughter, Margaret Pearl Meacham, inherited the home in 1938. In 1953, Otis Coppock purchased the home and moved it to Rosedale Highway and Calloway Drive. Lavern Hill acquired the home in 1966 and she died in 2005.

For more information or to make a donation to the Lopez Hill House Relocation project, visit www.kcmuseum.org

Moving Calendar

Week of April 7:

Old roofing materials are removed from the Lopez home in preparation for its move from Rosedale Highway at Calloway Drive to the museum.

Week of April 14:

April 14 Beams are inserted under the house.

April 15 Roof is cut, structure is braced and connected to the beams.

April 16 Crews begin lifting structure so dollies can be placed beneath the house.

April 17 Crews begin inserting dollies.

April 18 Crews scheduled to complete connecting dollies so the house is ready to move.

April 19 No work planned at this time.

April 20 at 1:00 a.m. house move ends with scheduled arrival at museum between 5:00 to 5:30 a.m.

7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Following the arrival of the Lopez house, volunteers, sponsors, donors, community members, museum staff, and museum foundation staff are invited to a breakfast fundraiser with all proceeds benefitting the next step - restoration.

The Kern County CattleWomen will also be on hand to provide free, fun western activities for the children. Kids can also participate in a coloring contest from the coloring book, "Lopez Hill House: Nan's Old House" designed specifically to document the history of the Lopez Hill House.

* Raffle prizes include five, one-night stays at the Rankin Ranch.
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