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Second oldest building razed
A building that has been standing in Ceres since 1872 was hauled off in a huge dumpser on Friday morning.

The brittle timbers of the two-story wooden structure that was once the Conner-Fellows Boarding House caved in under heavy equipment within minutes. The city took down the structure at the southeast corner of Lawrence and Fifth streets after the Ceres Redevelopment Agency purchased it. City officials said that the previous owner, Orlando Garcia, followed improper remodeling procedures that led to its demise. Garcia attempted to remodel the old house and a more recent add-on in the fall of 2006. The work included the excavation of the area beneath the house for the setting of a concrete foundation. The house, however, began seriously sagging in the middle and remodeling efforts stopped. City officials had been after Garcia to get the proper permits.

The Conner-Fellows Boarding House was established by sisters Nancy Conner and Mary Fellows, the first to accept a free lot from Daniel Whitmore with a temperance cause inserted into the deed. This was before Whitmore recorded the first township map of Ceres on Feb. 20, 1875.

Code Enforcement Officer Paula Redfern said the city pulled off some of the redwood lap siding to save as historical mementos. The siding was similar to that of the siding on the Daniel Whitmore Home, Ceres' oldest house, located a block north. Historians believe that the demolished structure was Ceres' second oldest house and the site of the first business.

Mayor Anthony Cannella said it was a "shame" that the house could not be restored.

The CRA bought the parcel for $186,000 on April 14 and made quick work of having it cleaned up before the Ceres Street Faire this past weekend.

Also on April 14 the CRA board voted to buy a vacant lot at 2912 Fourth Street from Miguel Gallegos, for a sum of $135,000.

How the parcels will be used in the future largely depends on the results of a downtown master plan which the city is funded, said Cannella. He said one idea for the properties may be to build two-story units with commercial on the first floor and residential on the second floor.