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Supervisor Greg Hagwood and others interested in revitalizing downtown Quincy, see the historic Lawry House, that sits adjacent to the Plumas County Library and across the street from the courthouse, as an under utilized resource. Feather Publishing file photo

Lawry House could play role in downtown Quincy revitalization

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

A discussion about what should be done with the Lawry House, a building that sits adjacent to the Plumas County Library and across the street from the Plumas County Courthouse in Quincy, was held once again during the Board of Supervisors meeting Oct. 18.

The last time it was on the agenda, then County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick had it on a list of county-owned properties that could be sold. It wasn’t.

Supervisor Greg Hagwood, whose district encompasses the property, put the item on the agenda. “It’s a property of historical significance,” he said. “It’s being used to store items from the museum, but it is deteriorating. It’s really a shame to see how that property has deteriorated as opposed to when Miss Helen Lawry had it.”

Both Hagwood and Quincy resident Pete Henschel, who spoke later in the meeting, said they used to be the paper boy for owner Helen Lawry. “It was one of the most beautiful properties in the downtown area,” Hawood said.

The home was built in 1875 by then Sheriff Andrew Hall. It later became the property of Helen Lawry and has been called the Lawry House as well as the Hall-Lawry House. Plumas County gained the house and surrounding yard in 1997, as well as the adjoining property where the Plumas County Library is located. At the time the property was deeded to the county by former owner Helen Lawry, supervisors had some proposals for county use. One included using the site as a parking lot.

However, the home was designated a local historical landmark in 2003. It was then given to the museum for its use. In addition to being a storeroom, it was also used as part of the countywide Living History program for fourth-graders every spring.

Hagwood said that he envisioned a public-private partnership to revive the structure. “It could be an asset and used in a positive way,” he said, adding that he had talked to surviving family members and they would like to see it brought back to its former glory. He referenced the work being done at White Sulphur Springs near Clio as an example of what could be accomplished.

The home was discussed by some who attended the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) workshop held this past June, and they spoke during the meeting.

Quincy resident Suzanne Stirling sees the Lawry House as an opportunity to help revitalize downtown Quincy, which she said is perceived as not friendly to tourists. She cited businesses that are not open on weekends and no access to public restrooms as two major issues. “People are driving through town to see fall colors and our businesses are not open,” she said. “I direct people to downtown Graeagle and the Spot (in Greenville), but my little downtown is in decline.”

She said she has toured the Lawry House three times, including once with her husband Scott, and Chris Murray, both of whom are contractors. Very rough estimates put renovating the entire building at well over $1 million, but the downstairs could be done for $300,000 to 400,000, she said.

Another issue she would like to see addressed is easy-to-follow signage, citing the city of Portola as being very well marked. “So impressed with how easy it is to find things,” she said.

Robert Gott, who owns Gott Powersports, also participated in the revitalization workshop and addressed the Lawry House. “It would be foolish to continue to let it rot and decay for storage,” he said. “Its importance level has been overlooked in previous years.” He also mentioned lack of places to stay and places to eat as concerns he has for the downtown area.

Supervisor Hagwood said that he has witnessed a momentum of enthusiasm, particularly since the Dixie Fire. “Bright and capable people working to improve the life of all of our communities,” he said, and asked for a commitment from fellow board members to pursue a public-private partnership. He wants to create some solutions that wouldn’t impact the county general fund.

Hagwood suggested the Lawry House could be used as a wedding venue or other event site. He mentioned the number of weddings that the county clerk’s staff perform at the courthouse and this could provide an adjacent venue. Henschel agreed with Hagwood and said the time was right to pursue this project.

Planning Director Tracey Ferguson said that the property is zoned C-1 (neighborhood commercial zone), and noted that the county’s general plan addresses supporting recreation and tourism, and also addresses restrooms.

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