Almanac

Community - April 30, 2014

Rebuilding Together: What's old looks new again

Volunteers refresh Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse in Menlo Park

by Sandy Brundage

A Menlo Park landmark got a fresh coat of paint on April 26, when volunteers participating in the 25th National Rebuilding Day worked on the historic Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse, as well as two Belle Haven homes and the Boys & Girls clubhouse in Menlo Park.

The gatehouse, located at 555 Ravenswood Ave., now serves as headquarters for the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula, which founded the local Rebuilding Together Peninsula (then called Christmas in April) a couple decades ago.

"We are thrilled to be working with the Junior League this year," Seana O'Shaughnessy, executive director of Rebuilding Together Peninsula, said in an email. "It means a lot since yes, indeed, we were started 25 years ago by the League. It was an amazing group of women who pulled together the right board and laid a tremendous foundation for us."

The historic building, constructed in 1864, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1986. It got its start as the entrance to a 280-acre estate owned by William Eustace Barron, according to the Junior League's records.

The estate changed names several times as new owners entered the picture until finally in 1942, when Stanford University took over. All buildings on the property except for the gatehouse were demolished; remnants such as pieces of the mansion were sold for use on movie sets. The gatehouse went on to serve as living quarters for soldiers during World War II.

Eventually the league renovated the property in 1996. Now, nearly two decades later, about 40 volunteers dedicated nine hours to refreshing the gatehouse from top to bottom, scrubbing cabinets, rearranging furniture and collecting detritus for disposal.

Their preparations actually began long before Saturday, from powerwashing the entire facility to gathering paint and other supplies. The work isn't over yet — the bathroom, foyer and trim still need paint, and the carpets await steam cleaning, according to volunteer co-captain Brooke Lopez.

The league plans to host a painting party to help finish the refurbishment. If anyone has some to spare, the gatehouse could use a new rug for the foyer <0x2012> something with a touch of blue — and buffet tables for the living room, according to Ms. Lopez.

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