The City Council has given the Whitmore Mansion Foundation up to another year to work on a plan to acquire the historic mansion from the city.
City officials are no longer interested in the city owning the home of Clinton Whitmore, built in 1903, and its spacious grounds. The city appears open to extending a lease-purchase agreement with the foundation. The last option would be putting the house up on the market at an undisclosed price.
City Manager Toby Wells said the matter will come back to the council in April with options and July with action no later than October.
“The goal is to have them be as successful as possible,” said Mayor Chris Vierra of the foundation.
While the city has owned the property since 2013, the foundation has been in charge of renting out the facility for various public and private events.
Lisa Mantarro Moore came before the City Council on Dec. 11 to discuss the future plans of the 501(c)(3) foundation. In 2016 the council gave the group a three-year extension to oversee the operation which was intending to expire this month.
Moore told the council in December that her group and volunteers have seen little income above and beyond the $8,000 in annual costs for power and water and other costs. The group has made improvements to the mansion’s air conditioning system and secured funding for a new coat of exterior paint in time for last year’s Centennial celebration. Moore said the group is interested in continued oversight of the mansion and wants to explore “other ways to promote events” with the city to compliment the new vibrancy of downtown.
She also wants time to see if she can come up with donations or other funds that would assist in the acquisition.
Wells said the city will keep the southern portion of the original mansion property outside of the wrought iron fencing for a city well and future small park site at the northeast corner of Fifth and North streets.
Councilman Mike Kline has agreed to sit on a subcommittee with Councilman Bret Durossette to explore options with the Foundation.
The Daniel Whitmore Manson is Ceres’ first house which was constructed in 1869 and finished in 1870. Clinton Whitmore, son of the Ceres founder, built his mansion one block north in 1903.