It’s the end of a 110-year era for the Victorian home at the intersection of Golden State Boulevard and Fulkerth Road, the last part of Divine Gardens, which is slated to be destroyed Friday.
The imminent demolition is at the behest of its owner Dennis Roach, the step-son of Jack Divanian. Divanian was one of the four brothers to found Divine Gardens in the 1960s, which included a popular bowling alley and bar amongst other establishments. For Roach, getting rid of the house will alleviate a headache rather than cause heartbreak as he has expressed no sentimental attachment to the historic home.
“Right now the value of the house is how much it’s going to cost me to tear it down,” said Roach.
While several individuals have shown interest in saving the Victorian home, thus far nothing feasible has manifested itself, meaning the house will soon be rendered a mere memory.
Amongst the people interested in saving the home is Main Street Antiques employee Lori Smith. While Smith admittedly has a penchant for items of bygone decades, she said she hates to see the home destroyed, noting that the McHenry Mansion was not entirely original and it was still preserved.
“We don’t have that many old houses in Turlock. It’s a historical thing,” said Smith.
According to Roach, the home was a “kit house,” purchasable for assembly from stores such as Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward in the early 1900s. Sears archives reveal that “From 1908 to 1940 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sold about 70,000 to 75,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program… Sears was not an innovator in home design or construction techniques, however, Modern Home designs did offer distinct advantages over other construction methods. The ability to mass-produce the materials used in Sears homes lessened manufacturing costs, which lowered purchase costs for customers.”
While the Divine Gardens home is not a lavish, custom creation, Roach did note that there is likely $20,000 to $25,000 worth of Redwood accents inside.
So why not save it?
Roach isn’t opposed to that. It’s been for sale for years. He even listed it on Zillow.com for a meager $1,000 with one caveat: the buyer had to move it.
“I’ll listen to anyone who wants to talk about the house,” said Roach. “But, so far no takers.”
Currently there is a man interested in the home but the price to move it is upwards of $60,000.
“You just can’t move the house. It’s too tall. You can’t get it across the freeway overpass. The only way to go is north on Golden State and you’d have to remove traffic signals and lights and power lines to do that,” said Roach.
No one has inhabited the home since 1997 when Roach attempted to fix the place up for himself. A graduate of Turlock High School, Roach returned to Turlock after a career at Hewlett-Packard in the Bay Area. However, after he replaced windows, purchased a new dishwasher and began to paint the home it was repeatedly broken into.
“It’s been broken into 28 times since I took possession of the home and nothing has ever been recovered,” said Roach, noting that the garage behind the house has been hit at least eight times as well.
While the historical home has remained uninhabited and taken a beating for the past 18 years, as its gatekeeper Roach has diligently returned to patch it up, even blockading the windows just three months ago to prevent more robberies in its final months.
In the past few days Roach has sold elements from the home and taken a slew of bricks from it to repair the sidewalk at the Turlock home in which he resides. The sale is pending for the property surrounding the historic house which Roach said will play host to an 8,000 square foot commercial building. His nephew is the buyer. In other words, Roach has moved on.
While Roach told the demolition crew he is ready for them to come Friday, he said that they may not make it out until Monday. While the clock is ticking on the old home and locals will likely be sad to see it demolished, ultimately Roach is ready to let it go.
“Everything’s coming down,” he said with a shrug. “It is what it is.”