BRENTWOOD -- Wind storms in the past few weeks have removed a portion of a top wall of the historic John Marsh House and caused a hole underneath the gable of the roof, according to the John Marsh Historic Trust.
"It is very disappointing because we have raised money to shore up the walls of the first floor and now the top floor is collapsing," trust Chairwoman Alexandra Ghiozzi¿ said. "Now, the needs are becoming much more apparent."
She added that the damage caused by recent¿ winds can be seen on the north wall of the stone house, which faces Trilogy Parkway. Although the trust has raised nearly enough money for the first floor stabilization with a California Cultural and Historical Endowment grant and matching funds, Ghiozzi said that this doesn't account for work needed on the second and third floors of the house.
"We hope the community comes together and realizes what a treasure this is. If it falls to a certain degree, we can't save it," she said.
Marsh was Contra Costa County's first pioneer resident. A Harvard-educated doctor, he immigrated to the East Bay in the 1830s. He became a cattle baron and wrote letters, published in many newspapers, that attracted many settlers to California before the Gold Rush.
Located near Marsh Creek, Marsh's house is built entirely of stone and was constructed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. It will be the historical centerpiece of the future Marsh Creek State Park, according to trust President Gene Metz.
"It will be a wonderful educational and cultural center," he said. "It will help explain how this area of East County became the farming mecca that it became."
According to Metz, major construction will begin on the house in June. He noted that in the 1970s the south wall collapsed due to wind storms and it was just recently rebuilt.
"We (will) continue to have problems until we have the means to stabilize," Metz said. "The cost estimates are so high that we won't be able to achieve all that is urgently needed at this time."
The trust has kicked up fundraising efforts through social media and other new and innovative ways, Ghiozzi said. They are in production on a video about the house and Ghiozzi said they plan to use the website Kickstarter, which helps artistic and creative projects get funding through small donations using social media contacts.
"It is a way for us to reach out to a whole new base of donors," Ghiozzi said. "We need people to rally around the house. We are hoping that everyone could give a little bit to make a big difference."
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174.
For more information on how to help save the John Marsh house, go to johnmarshhouse.com.