So much property around Modesto needs a little TLC

columns@modbee.comJune 17, 2013 

It is disheartening to see so many cool properties go to ruin during these bad economic times — especially with a proliferation of home improvement magazines and websites with good ideas and resources.

Next to the community pool in our neighborhood is a former barn and rodeo grounds, complete with graded berms filled with wood bleachers. The arena has lights and an announcer's stand, and plenty of stalls ready for a rodeo. Every time I see it, I want money to buy and fix it up. It would be so neat to see the place alive again with horses and youths riding and full of activity. It's hard to watch such a cool place fall apart and fill with weeds.

There's a house on a corner near downtown Modesto that I wish I could fix up. It's an older house, clearly built earlier last century, that doesn't quite fit in with the surrounding houses built in more recent decades. I visualize the house freshly painted, with the porch properly repaired, a picket fence around it and lush flowering bushes planted along the sidewalks. What a neat location for a flower shop! I can visualize charming garden art and funny hand-painted signs here and there and the promise of beautiful plants and the possibility of a cold lemonade waiting inside. But alas, it sits and waits.

I miss the charm of the "folly" buildings as progress toward the future continues. There are still a few mini-Swiss chalets still tucked away here and there in the foothills. It hurts to see them so unloved and collecting cobwebs. What happened to caring for a property with love, and keeping the place nice out of joy and pride, regardless of whether one gets paid for the work?

There's a couple of old restaurants on the way to Yosemite with original polished wood bars and cozy fireplaces now sitting empty. What used to be "hot property" in the 1970s is now out of fashion in the second decade of the new millennium. There are national franchises down the road, but sometimes you want to go to a place that has no standard menu and no drinks served out of machines. It's the loss of a "gathering place" that hurts, I think.

I know, I know, it's all about money and the woeful lack of it. But I can still wish, can't I? Because there's a neat little 1900's farmhouse cottage on the way to Coulterville that has cows walking all over the porch. I wish I could pick the whole thing up and move it closer to the Don Pedro Market on a piece of highway frontage and turn it into a charming quilt shop.


Holt is a landscape horticulture graduate of Merced College who divides her time between Merced and Mariposa. Send comments or questions to

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