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Historic Fiddyment Ranch gets spruced up

Historical Society awarded 90-day Right-Of-Entry to property
By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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On the morning of June 1, the historic Fiddyment Ranch came to life with the hustle and bustle of volunteers getting their hands dirty to spruce up one of Placer County’s most-beloved historical landmarks.  After many months of patience, the Roseville Historical Society that morning marked the first in a 90-day Right-Of-Entry agreement with the city of Roseville for the Historic Fiddyment Ranch Project.

The Fiddyment Ranch is a National Register of Historic Places Roseville landmark. During this initial phase of work, the Roseville Historical Society expects to restore the property’s 1.5-acre protected grounds through volunteer efforts.  According to a statement released by the Roseville Historical Society, it is expected that the city will have an agreement with a contractor to replace the roof on the main house and, depending on budget, potentially they will do more repairs as well. 

With many aspects of the project ahead and many hurdles to clear to put them into place, the Roseville Historical Society is already making good use of their three-month granted access.  On Friday, the grounds were bustling with volunteers. Some volunteers were trimming bushes, others were pulling weeds and operating wheelbarrows to remove the overgrown foliage that had been moved earlier in the morning to reveal the numerous rose bushes on the property and replenish them with needed irrigation.

“This first work day, our focus is taking care of the many rose bushes that have had very little attention over time,” said Roseville Historical Society President Christina Richter. “Roses truly can stand the test of time and beneath all of the weeds, they are still thriving. They were always a very special part of this property.”

The Historic Fiddyment Ranch Project has been an interest of the Historical Society for many years. Richter is known for her book, “Walk With Me I Want To Tell You Something.”  This publication is the story of the pioneer family and was published in fall 2013. 

The old ranch dates back to 1879 and was developed by the son of the original pioneer, Elizabeth Jane Fiddyment. The property was adjacent to Elizabeth Jane’s property. Currently on site are two brick outbuildings, the smokehouse and cooler, both being rare examples of early pioneer structures and quite possibly the last remaining in California. The third remaining structure on site is the family’s old ranch house. It is currently three renovations from the original 1879 structure, which was a single-room cabin. 

Last year, a study conducted by Sacramento-based architectural firm Page & Turnbull listed $201,398 in priority and recommended repairs for the property. The report listed the main house being in fair condition. Some of the older outer buildings are in need of further attention, with needed structural work to avoid collapse during an earthquake.

The estimated costs at the time of the 2017 study broke down as $119,133 for the house, $11,481 for the cooler, $50,911 for the smokehouse, $2,399 for the reservoir, $11,955 for a construction contingency and $5,518 for special inspections and testing.  The homestead, on the National Register of Historic Places since 2010, can’t be demolished so restoration has been the focus.

The Roseville Historical Society invites anyone who desires to be a part of the restoration efforts to contact them at carnegie@surewest.net and/or visit the Historic Fiddyment Project Facebook page for further details. Gold Country Media will continue to follow the progress of this project in future editions.