After the fire
DEVASTATION-Upstairs bedroom windows and walls are gutted at the Bowers Mansion, home of the Wayland Reynolds family when fire ruined 60 per cent of the house, Nov. 26, 1976. The family has contracted for rebuilding the historic old structure, but it will now become a two story home, instead of three, with an Damaged by fire last November attic. Some new lumber sits in front of the damaged house, signaling the start of rebuilding. A huge pile of rubble is spewn under what was the sleeping porch, where the fire began. (Facts photos by Terry Greenberg) Reynolds family to rebuild home BY TERRY GREENBERG "It'll be weird not being able to run upstairs, like we used to do," said Greg Reynolds, walking through the second story hallway of the "Bowers Mansion," 1125 W. Crescent avenue, where his family had lived f« 13 years. Reynolds passes a small bathroom. An upward look does not reveal a ceiling, but rather a blue sky. On November 26, last year, Reynolds was sleeping in his second story bedroom when a popping noise woke him. "I got out of bed and walked toward the sleeping porch and the uhde thing was on fire," he said. Faulty wiring supposedly caused the 1 a.m. blaze and was blamed for $120,000 of damage to the 87-year-old 20-room mansion, totaHy destroying the third floor and attic. Wayland Reynolds, his wife Coda and children. Coda, Gr^ and Melanle all safely escaped. But they're going back. Workers recently started cleaning up and preparing the structure for complete rehabilitation. Since the blaze, the Reynolds have been living with Mrs. Reynolds mother, Mrs. Wm. B. Wilson, 1106 W. ffighland avenue and they're moving into a house on E. Palm avenue until work la finished. "It's an early historic home and because 60 per cent was damaged, and the beautiful wood It's known for was still there, we decided to restore it," said Wayland Reynolds. The downstairs redwood paneling Is water damaged, but not burnt. The Italian tile fireplace Is still Intact. "The easy way would be to knock It down and build a new house, but this one has certain features that couldn't be replaced," Reynolds said. Armantrout Architects, 380 New York street, drew up the plans and Reynolds filed a $70,000 building permit with the city. Contractor Jack Parker has been engaged. Reynolds said the architect estimates, that without problems, It will take eight months to finish the job. The house will be rebuilt as a two-story residence, with sbc bedrooms on the second floor. "There will still be a lot of house, there Is a lot of material left," said Reynolds, assistant superintendent for the Palm Springs school district. Reynolds said it was a family decision to re-do the residence. Instead of building a brand new house. "The attitude Is, let's get It done and move back in," he said, "It's going to be a family job along with Parker." "Financial restraints will keep us to just rebuilding the house much the way it was. We're going to upgrade the kitchen a bit and add a half-bath on the first floor," said Reynolds The hand-carved stairwell was badly burned, but Reynolds Is hoping to reproduce the spindles. "The ballroom well be pretty much the same contour and we'll upgrade the lighting," he added. Greg Reynolds is in charge of tearing down part of a chy to fit the lowering of the house, The problem is the stack is home for a beehive. "It's tough, said Jack Parker, "we have to fight bees half the time. Broken bits of honeycomb sit at the base of the chimney where Reynolds has been hacking away at the hive. The 16-year-old Redlands high school student looks up at the swarming bees that have stung workers and slowed building activity. "I think we're going to have to call the Agriculture Department," he moaned.