Priced to move fast.
One buck for a turn-of-the-century Greene and Greene home.
That's the deal a developer is offering in Pasadena, and it's attracting plenty of potential buyers.
Telephones at developer Greg Yerevanian's company, City Hall and a local real estate agent's office have been ringing virtually nonstop as people inquire about purchasing their own little piece of architectural history.
OK, it's not Pasadena's Gamble House, Charles and Henry Greene's most-heralded work, but the two-story Craftsman is, after all, available for a song.
"We've had a lot of lookers. I think the price has made it somewhat of a tourist attraction," said Joyce Racine of the Walter Hoving Home, a residential rehabilitation center, which is moving out of the four-bedroom house. "My husband is the broker, and he got 22 calls in one day on the home."
There is a catch. Isn't there always? The land isn't included. The buyer of the house, built in 1903, must pay to move the 1,700-foot structure from its location at 210 S. Madison Ave. so Yerevanian can build condominiums there.
Now that will cost a whole load of George Washingtons.
It will cost at least $20,000 to move the house, plus an additional $10,000 for a new foundation, but the cost can escalate by tens of thousands of dollars when treacherous power lines have to be lifted, said Ted Hollister of Encino-based Master Home Movers. Hollister has moved dozens of historic homes, including some for Caltech.
The developer is in escrow on the Greene and Greene home and an adjacent house and needs to clear both for his project.
But under Pasadena city law, Greene and Greene structures are a protected historic resource. Any efforts to alter or demolish such buildings must be reviewed by the city's Cultural Heritage Commission. That review can be a lengthy process that could delay any plans for the Madison Avenue site, city officials said.
The developer is willing to make the same $1-dollar move-it-yourself deal on a larger home, at 218 S. Madison, which is 50 years younger than its neighbor and otherwise will be demolished. The rest of the block consists of apartments and condominiums.
Yerevanian has had special postcards printed announcing the home sales: "For Sale Pasadena historical residential dwellings $1.00 each. Land not included. House must be moved at buyer's expense."
Since the Greene and Greene home became available last week, officials at Pasadena Heritage, a preservation organization, have received dozens of telephone calls from interested parties.
Prospective buyers from as far as San Diego have contacted City Hall, said Cultural Heritage Commissioner Bob Winter.
"Greene and Greene works like the Gamble House and Blacker House have made their buildings a cause celebre," he said. "Many of their homes were far more ordinary."
Winter, a retired Occidental College professor who has written half a dozen architecture books, said that the sale caught commissioners off guard and that they plan to visit the Craftsman home next month. The house got barely a mention in various books on Greene and Greene, he said.
Whoever acquires the home better be prepared for the ordeal of moving it, he said.
"You only move a house once," he said. "Many a marriage has ended over moving a house."
The structure has been occupied by the Walter Hoving Home, a Christian facility for women with drug and alcohol problems, since 1986. The organization paid $325,000 for the property, which serves as a combination of offices and bedrooms.
But the group's demands outgrew the home, so the Hoving Home is moving a few blocks to the former Mira Monte Hotel, said Racine, who has become an unofficial tour guide to potential buyers.
On the first floor is a living room, dining room, study, sleeping porch and narrow galley-style kitchen. The fittings are not the ornate examples often found in larger Greene and Greene houses. Carpets hide the usual signature hardwood floors. Up the narrow staircase are four bedrooms below the low-pitched roof.
As yet another car of gawkers stopped in front of the home Wednesday, Racine said, "I hope someone gets it who wants to restore it to its rightful glory."