The non-profit group that is in charge of running the Clinton Whitmore Mansion for the city is continuing to see interest from individuals who wish to rent it for special occasions.
That was the jest of a July 27 report submitted to the Ceres City Council.
City Manager Toby Wells said the Whitmore Mansion Foundation, the group running the operations at the mansion, sees continued interest in renting mansion grounds. Lisa Mantarro Moore, president of the Whitmore Mansion Foundation, said her group has fielded over 96 calls about prospective rentals of the mansion and grounds between Jan. and June 30. Some inquiries have been made about using the center in 2016.
So far this year, the grounds saw nine formal events, such as family parties, weddings and a bridal shower, 10 photo shoots and three scheduled weddings.
The non-profit foundation is maintaining a website (http://cereswhitmoremansion.com/) to help persons make a decision on use.
Between Jan. 1 and June 30, the city spent $21,600 which has been offset by $6,600 in revenue. Wells said that net expenditures are averaging $518 per month in 29 months of foundation operation.
The foundation is paying for service on the air conditioning and for security.
The 8,000-square-foot mansion was built in 1903 by Clinton Whitmore, son of town founder Daniel Whitmore. It had been in private hands and rented out for weddings and private parties until it was forced to be sold in a bank short sale. In October 2012 the city and Bank of America agreed to transact the mansion and 2.47 acres of land for a short sale price of $475,300.
Since buying the facility, the city has indicated that it has neither the funds to take care of a myriad of physical improvements nor the staff time to maintain it. So the city turned over the operation of the mansion to the Whitmore Mansion Foundation, a non-profit group that has a passion to improve the house and organize rentals. The city has made annual agreements for the group to run the mansion, the latest period until January 2015.
Quarter updates are given to the council to keep tabs on the group's progress.
Moore said the mansion was improved by the efforts of about 50 volunteers during the April 18 "Love Ceres" event.
The foundation has formally asked the Ceres Lions Club to consider constructing a project for the mansion, including an outdoor restroom.
Moore said her group is trying to build back the furniture collection after the estate sale stripped the home of some of the period pieces.
The mansion is not without a laundry list of desired remodeling needs. The city has identified the mansion needs $605,000 in complete improvements, including:
• $40,000 in kitchen upgrades;
• $50,000 for an exterior restroom,
• $50,000 worth of ADA access improvements;
• $10,000 in plumbing needs;
• $30,000 in electrical work;
• $35,000 in painting;
• Sprinkler improvements worth $20,000;
• $35,000 to heating and air conditioning upgrades;
• $60,000 for a fire sprinkler system and connect to city water;
• $250,000 for a new parking lot.