Episcopal Church now ahead in Lola Montez house bidding

A “higher source” — the Episcopal Church, not the Downtown Association — has emerged as the lead bidder for the Lola Montez house in Grass Valley, I have learned.

The church’s rector, Seth Kellermann, confirmed that the nearby Emmanuel Episcopal Church, was negotiating to acquire the Lola Montez house. It is contingent on the diocese in Sacramento accepting the deal, however.

The Downtown Association also had been negotiating for the house, but the Episcopal Church now is the lead bidder. A higher bid appears to be major factor.

Kellermann was quick to point out that the church plans to continue leasing out the space, at least in the near to medium term. In the long term, it might want to expand into the building for offices. The Chamber now leases space in the building.

The idea of the earlier deal was to merge the Downtown Association and Chamber into the same space.

The Lola Montez House — at 248 Mill St. — was originally constructed in 1851 for the office of Gilmor Meredith’s Gold Hill Mining Co. Lola Montez, who became famous as a dancer (“The Spider Dance”), actress and courtesan, purchased the home in 1853. She built a cactus garden in the front yard — thought to be among the first in California. The current structure is a duplicate of the original, built from a sketch.

The seller is the Pioneer Association.

The house was once owned by the Episcopal Church, Seth said.

I’m confident the house will be in good hands. I have been an Episcopalian since childhood. We sometimes go to Trinity Church in Nevada City, but this time of year also enjoy the outdoor service at the St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Tahoe City. Once a pet porcupine came along with its owner, Ann Bryant of the Bear League. A Herb Caen item, to be sure.

(Filed from an iPad on the road).

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

4 thoughts on “Episcopal Church now ahead in Lola Montez house bidding”

  1. Jeff:

    To clarify the 6th ‘graph, the current Lola Montez house is a replica — built in the late 20th century. But thanks for the update. It seemed the GVDA was a cinch to acquire the property.

  2. Jeff:

    Oops! My error. Next time maybe I should read the posting more closely.

    My face is red.

  3. The Union followed up on this, first reported here:

    I noticed that Jeff Ackerman of The Union is on the board on the Pioneer Association. Interesting. I wonder if The Union would have written about this deal being in negotiation if it hadn’t have appeared here first. Would they have just waited for the “press release.” Something to think about: The transition from a “media monopoly” to more competition in small, rural communities.

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