Historic Dresbach Hunt-Boyer Mansion reopened for city, business use

JORDAN KNOWLES / AGGIE

Mansion will house offices of new police substation, Valley Clean Energy

May 5 marked the grand reopening of the Dresbach Hunt-Boyer mansion, which has been repurposed to serve as a downtown Davis Police Department substation and headquarters for Valley Clean Energy. The City of Davis hosted an open house for the mansion followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by city manager Michael Webb.

“The services that we provide at the HB mansion are related directly to some of the needs of our downtown: having that direct accessibility walkable to businesses, literally across the street and next door, and having that friendly face of our staff also being able to be accessible with immediate access instead having to walk halfway across town,” Webb said.

The Dresbach Hunt-Boyer mansion was first built in 1875 by William Frederick Dresbach. Dresbach was a businessman and was also known for naming the town Davisville. What made it stand out from other houses in the area was its Victorian architecture, which was uncommon for houses in the Davis Area. Throughout the years, it was passed down to the Boyer and the Hunt families. According to Bob Bowen, a city historian, the mansion is on a national registry for historic buildings.

“In the [1970s], there was a proposal to pick this house up and move it somewhere else and build a modern building here,” Bowen said. “A lot of folks in the community raised money and said, ‘No, this a historic house, we want to keep it here.’ It’s been constantly changing, so this new cycle is encouraging and [it supports] our downtown and our general community.”

The city of Davis bought the house in 1994 from private owners. Today, the house can be found on the corner of Second Street, where it is distinguished from the surrounding buildings by its Victorian architecture. Since 1994, the house has been in constant use by the city and small businesses.

Last fall, the previous occupant of the Dresbach Hunt-Boyer mansion — the startup Davis Roots — vacated the house in order to become digital. Afterward, the city council looked at the potential reuse of the house to suit the needs of the community.

According to City of Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel, the substation at the Hunt-Boyer Mansion will primarily be dedicated towards two departments: the Homeless Services and Outreach Department and the Downtown Davis Bike Officer office. This is the first time in 17 years that the Davis Police Department has had a substation downtown after relocating from City Hall to the current station.

“One of the primary reasons for moving homeless services down here is that a lot of the clients are in this area,” Pytel said. “And so we’re hoping that it is easier for [the officers] to meet with people so that we’re not having to drive people around or having them make express arrangements to have them come over to the police department.”

The other main service of the Dresbach Hunt-Boyer mansion will be the Valley Clean Energy office. Valley Clean Energy is a new, locally owned power provider that will launch in June 2018 and provide power for many areas of Yolo County.

“We have three members of the organization: currently the City of Davis, the City of Woodland and the unincorporated Yolo County,” said Lucas Ferrix during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Those three governments are partnering in this new power providing role of Valley Clean Energy. We are so happy to have our first headquarter offices here in downtown Davis.”

According to Bowen, the Dresbach Hunt-Boyer mansion’s history aligns with that of Davis. And while the house has gone through many different hands over the past hundred years, Bowen thinks that this knew repurposing will take a part in making the community of Davis stronger.

“This [house] was on the edge of town,” Bowen said. “This was built in 1875, [and] the university opened to students in 1908. The city of Davis was incorporated in 1917. So this house has lived through all of that […] over the years. It’s pretty extraordinary to think about.”

 

 

Written by: Hannan Waliullah city@theaggie.org