CERES — The city will own a piece of history this month if escrow closes as scheduled today on the 100-year-old Whitmore Mansion on Fifth Street.
The City Council in September made an offer in a short sale of the 2.47-acre property of $475,300, which city attorney Mike Lyions said is less than what is owed on the mortgage.
The Ceres City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase at its meeting Monday.
The 15-room home was built by Clinton N. Whitmore in 1903. He was the son of Daniel C. Whitmore, who is called the founder of Ceres.
The home remained under the ownership of Whitmore descendants until 2005, when it was bought by its current owners, Cary and Nancy Pope. The couple purchased the home to operate their catering business and hold events. They bought it at the height of the housing market for $1.3 million.
In addition to the mansion, the purchase includes about an acre of undeveloped property that will be developed as a park and serve as a centerpiece of the city's downtown, according to a staff report.
The single-acre park will be paid for with Neighborhood Park Fee funds. The additional 1.47 acres, consisting of the Whitmore Mansion and surrounding grounds, will be used as a community facility paid for with money from the city's planned community fund.
Lyions said the city viewed the purchase as an opportunity to preserve history and, when developed, serve as a stimulus to the economic development of downtown.
The city does not have the funds to develop the site and has not determined a way to pay for its maintenance, which costs about $131,200 annually.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209)578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.