April 22nd, 2013
Comstock Mining Inc, comstock residents association, Crown Point, Dayton Consolidated, gold hill, historic landscape, preserve, protect, Ron James, Virginia City, volunteers
Last month a group of volunteers from Comstock Residents Association assisted in the rescue of an abandoned residence in Gold Hill. The house has been standing empty for more than 60 years, the street that once passed its front door has long since grown over with sagebrush.
“That house has stood up to decades of neglect,” said Robin Cobbey, whose home is across the canyon. “It was built without studs by someone who knew their business,” she said “We used to go over there with the kids when they were little, 12 or 15 years ago, and there was still wallpaper on the walls. But lately thieves and vandals have stripped it and nearly destroyed it.”
The entire back wall of the house has been removed, and a leanto addition built onto its north side was demolished. The structure had begun to sag toward the northwest, its relentless swoon prevented by a single historic 2×4 propped against the corner to hold it up.
The volunteers were led by Michael Riggs, a local builder with many years experience on the Comstock. “It’s gratifying to see the community stand behind our historic landscape and the remnants it contains”, he said. “I don’t think anyone wants these things to be lost.”
“I got in touch with Ron James when I first heard that he’d gone to work for Comstock Mining Inc.,” Cobbey said. “I told him about the place, how photographers and even painters stopped to capture its image. He said he agreed that even historic ruins were valuable, but since they didn’t accommodate human traffic, they were less important.”
The CRA sees it differently, Cobbey said. “The historic context is important to Virginia City as a destination, and that’s what we are trying to protect and preserve.”
Since CMI accelerated its operations one building has been torn down, another one moved and a headframe has been taken from its historic location in Gold Hill and put next to a parking lot on the north end of Virginia City. The Dayton Consolidated head frame fell down under CMI’s watch and the Crown Point will be next unless something is done soon.
In an email on the topic Ron James stated: “The Crown Point headframe is one of many mining-related resources in the district, and I can envision a future where this and many other resources have a brighter future than they had several years ago.” James added, “This is private property. How the owner works or does not work with Comstock Mining, the state, or anyone else, is up to the private property owner.”
In the meantime one little old house still stands in Gold Hill, not quite upright, but not sagging any farther.
Cobbey said it took one phone call to the owner to get permission to secure the Gold Hill structure and the cost was $200. “We think this is a good investment,” she said. “And we have contacted the owners of another similar property, in hopes of stabilizing it too.”