People with ties to the historic Charles B. Anderson House’s past offered their thoughts on its future Wednesday evening.
Descendants of the house’s builder and original owner said at a public meeting that they aren’t opposed to a proposal from the Pasco County library system to tear down it and build a park on the site, and they appreciated that the property could become part of locals’ lives.
“I’m for tearing the house down and renewing it as a legacy to my dad,” said Lee Kuenzi, whose father, Guy Kuenzi, built the house.
Fran Nurrenbrock, the great-granddaughter of the prominent citrus grower for whom the house was built and named, acknowledged that it would be expensive to restore it.
“If it is determined that the home must be demolished, we truly appreciate any efforts to provide the public with information about the structure, the builders and the occupants who helped establish the citrus industry in this area,” Nurrenbrock said.
George Vinson, Nurrenbrock’s sister, said he and Nurrenbrock would like to support whatever project the library eventually decides on.
Some members of the West Pasco Historical Society have said that they would rather see the house saved as a monument to local history.
“We’re definitely not against a park being developed, but we do like to see historic structures preserved if at all possible,” Historical Society Vice President Vic Mallett said at the meeting.
Mallett said the public should have had a chance to provide input from the beginning, instead of after a proposal was developed to tear the house down.
The library, on the other hand, says the park would fill a community need.
“Our particular neighborhood is really yearning for a park,” said Kelly Miller, president of the Colonial Hills Civic Association, at the meeting.
The house was built in 1938. It stood out from other Depression-era rural homes because of its mahogany paneling and amenities, including an electric garage door opener, a telephone room, a solar water heater and continuous electrical outlets.
Vinson and Nurrenbrock lived in the house as children. Kuenzi recalled staying there back when it was surrounded by orange groves and had a pond beside it.
“It’s a beautiful home, or it was a beautiful home. The innovations were amazing,” he said.
The county bought the house in 1981, and the Pasco Fine Arts Council leased it in 1985. But the council moved out in 2015 as the house’s condition deteriorated, and it’s been vacant ever since.
If the house is torn down, the county would take measures to preserve its history. That could include naming the park after the Anderson family, placing a historical marker at the site and creating library exhibits about the house.
The county considered moving the house elsewhere, said Matt Marino, a consultant working on the project. It’s an option local historians have said could be an alternative to demolition. But Marino said doing so would be prohibitively expensive, and would probably still have an adverse effect to the house under the federal law governing historic places.
For Kuenzi, the park project is a meaningful use of the land.
“The thought that my dad’s work on the Anderson house as the builder would be a legacy for all of us —” he said, pausing. “I’m getting emotional.”