Bob Wills Fresno home endangered

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ABOVE: Bob Wills and his wife Betty hang out the washing to dry at the Triple B Ranch in Fresno, California

The Triple B Ranch in Fresno, California, Bob Wills's home in the last half of the 1940s, is to be demolished and replaced with a housing subdivision, despite a unanimous vote by the city's Preservation Commission to place the home on the city's historic register:

Granville wants to raze the house and remove nearby olive trees as part of a proposed housing project in the area. Roberts told the city's Historic Preservation Commission on Monday that the house is falling apart. He said the place is full of bees, asbestos and lead paint. He said Granville would sell the house for $1 if the buyer moves it at no expense to the builder.

The commission voted 4-0 to place the house on the city's Register of Historic Resources. This almost certainly would have made it impossible for Granville to tear down the house.

(Aren't most houses over a certain age full of asbestos and lead paint? And doesn't demolition make them much more hazardous then leaving them intact?)

Because the register placement is not official until the city council votes, it appears that the developer was able to obtain a demolition permit without the extra process required for a designated historic resource.

There is a slim possibility for a reprieve, if someone is willing to raise the money to buy the lots on which the house stands or to move the house to another location within 30 days.

The view from the street (the side of the house) isn't that impressive, but the video below shows the front, with a broad, high porch spanning the east face of the home.

An April 27, 2013, article in the Fresno Bee explains the house's connection with Bob Wills:

Bob Wills bought the one-story wood-frame house at 6410 E. Clinton Ave. and the surrounding 80 acres near Armstrong Avenue in 1945. The name Triple B stands for Bob, his wife Betty and their son Little Bob, according to daughter Carolyn Wills of Texas.

In a June 1945 letter to an aunt, Betty Wills wrote, "We're living in Fresno now. It's almost the size of Tulsa. It's in the San Joaquin Valley. That's where they raise all California fruit and vegetables. ... I like it real well. A lot more than I ever did Los Angeles."

Carolyn Wills said she was "accidentally" born at the ranch house in 1946 because her parents couldn't get to a hospital in time.

Wills built barns and fences for the seven stallions and 40 brood mares he bought for the ranch, his daughter said. "My father was always the happiest he'd ever been" on the ranch, she said.

EXTRA: Here's Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys from 1963, performing "Ida Red." Joe Andrews on vocals, Gene Crownover on steel guitar, Gene Gasaway on fiddle, Benny Johnson on piano. Not sure about the second fiddler -- maybe George Clayborn. Note the sponsor: Mathis Brothers.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 24, 2013 7:33 PM.

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