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Curb Appeal: Historic Williams home near Fresno City College served as women’s boarding house

Historic Alice and John Williams Home on the market in Tower District

The Alice and John Williams Home, which is on the Local Register of Historic Resources, was built in 1915 near Fresno City College. An Arts and Crafts-style home, the 2,948-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was used as a residence hall
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The Alice and John Williams Home, which is on the Local Register of Historic Resources, was built in 1915 near Fresno City College. An Arts and Crafts-style home, the 2,948-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was used as a residence hall

Pete Romero stepped out of a dental appointment near Fresno City College in the early 1990s when he looked up and saw an Arts and Crafts-style house next door that he fell in love with.

The Alice and Joseph Williams Home, at 1525 N. Wishon Ave., was a mess. The windows were boarded up. The interior walls were water damaged after firefighters responded to a fire set by an upset tenant. And the 102-year-old historic home needed a new electrical and plumbing system.

Romero, a retired Fresno Unified School District teacher, saw a gem that needed some work. He was looking for a house in the Tower District area but wanted something bigger than the two-bedroom homes that popped up in his search. He contacted the owner, struck a deal and spent the last 20 years fixing it up.

Curb Appeal – What is it? BoNhia Lee’s series about interesting houses and buildings for sale in the central San Joaquin Valley. Previously: Landfall Estate in Auberry. Suggest a home: Submissions can be emailed to blee@fresnobee.com

The nearly 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, now completely renovated and listed last year on the Local Register of Historical Resources, is for sale. The cost: $329,000.

“I hope somebody gets it and it makes them happy like it made me,” Romero said.

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The Alice and John Williams Home, which was built in 1915 near Fresno City College, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in the Tower District, in Fresno. An Arts and Crafts style home, the 2,948-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was used as a residence hall for “selective women students” possibly by Alice Williams after the death of her husband. The home is on the Local Register of Historic Resources. SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com

The Williams Home, also known as Stonehedge Hall, was built in 1915 and is located three blocks southwest of the college. The house was located on Fresno’s streetcar line that connected residents with businesses downtown and Fresno Beach on the San Joaquin River, according to a report from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Alice and Joseph Williams, who was a rancher, are believed to be the first owners. By 1931, Joseph Williams was dead and his wife owned the house, operating it at some point as a boarding home for female students attending Fresno City.

A private side entrance to the house allowed tenants access to the second floor where there was a kitchen and a large living room with two bedrooms and a sleeping porch. Romero has since gutted the kitchen and turned it into a second-floor laundry room. The living room serves as the master bedroom and Romero’s wife, Maria, turned a nearby bedroom into a walk-in closet.

The main entrance of the home opens into the formal living room with fireplace that Pete Romero added. A small office or the “chess room” as the Romeros call it, sits to the right, and a dining room with built-in cabinets is to the left.

“I like my dining room,” said Maria Romero, who retired as principal of the Fresno Adult School in 2009. “I have a big family and I can seat 14 people at one time.”

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The kitchen at the Alice and John Williams Home, which was built in 1915 near Fresno City College, on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in the Tower District, in Fresno. An Arts and Crafts style home, the 2,948-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was used as a residence hall for “selective women students” possibly by Alice Williams after the death of her husband. The home is on the Local Register of Historic Resources. SILVIA FLORES sflores@fresnobee.com

The kitchen has a small commercial stove and a checkered black and white floor. Pete Romero snagged an old booth from the Wild Blue Yonder, an old Tower District night club, cut it down to size and had it reupholstered to use as a breakfast nook on the back porch that’s been turned an eating area.

The back of the house has a small grassy, fenced-in area and a covered patio. The three-car garage was once used as a carriage house, providing shelter for horses and the carriages they pulled.

“We love our home,” Maria Romero said. “I planned to be here until I croaked.”

But Pete Romero has asthma. And their three children are grown. The couple decided it was time to downsize and move to the mountains where the air is a little cleaner and Pete Romero can be closer to the outdoors where he enjoys fishing.

The neighborhood is great with lots of camaraderie between neighbors, said Realtor Gene Gonzales with Home Star Real Estate, who is listing the house for sale.

Ideally, he said, this house is for anyone wanting a “lifestyle of being near the Tower and appreciating what this home has to offer.”

Alice and Joseph Williams Home (Stonehedge Hall)

Address: 1525 N. Wishon Ave., Fresno

Price: $329,000

Built: 1915

Size: 2,948 square feet

Details: Arts and Crafts home with built-in cabinets, crown molding, black and white checkered kitchen floor, small commercial grade stove, large master bedroom with adjoining bedroom turned into a walk-in closet, sleeping porch, basement, large outdoor patio, three-car garage.

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