A Phoenix in Disguise
Story by Jerri Holan
Award Recipients: Owners – Ruben & Araceli Quezada
Architect: Thornton Weiler
Contractor: Tony & Gonzolo Gonzalez, Calsystem Restoration Services
When the 2015 fire from next door spread to the roof of 643 Central, no one could have imagined how the Victorian cottage, ca. 1894, would eventually arise from the ashes. Two years later, after much loving restoration, the humble dwelling has been brought back to life.
The fire remediation work was quite extensive. The roof and all the windows were replaced and the interior was completely gutted. During the course of putting it all back together, the owners, Ruben and Araceli Quezada, and their architect, Thornton Weiler, poured through period books and millwork catalogs to faithfully bring back period details to their small home. Both Ruben and Araceli are humanities professors, so historical research was almost second nature to them.
According to Thornton, the project was an architect’s dream job: complete period detailing inside and out, including the fireplace and interior staircase. Period light fixtures and traditional wainscoting grace the small but airy interiors. The basement was made legally habitable and the new back porch matches the front with turned wood balusters. Period colors, wainscoting and finishes on the inside complement the newly restored exterior.
In all, the restoration work cost $450,000 but was worth every penny. In fact, while the fire was certainly a disastrous event, for this phoenix, it was a blessing in disguise. The home has been refurbished, strengthened, and restored – it’s ready for the next 100 years. Alas, 641 Central has yet to be reborn. But we hope 643 will be its inspiration.