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80-year-old adobe house in Bakersfield gets new life as nature center

Adobe House at Hart Memorial Park (FILE)
Back of Adobe House at Hart Memorial Park (FILE)
Kitchen area of Adobe House at Hart Memorial Park (FILE)
Bathroom area of Adobe House at Hart Memorial Park (FILE)
Posted at 4:44 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 21:29:39-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County marked the reopening of the historic adobe house Wednesday at Hart Memorial Park.

The 1939 adobe structure was constructed during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration as part of the effort to put Americans back to work during the depression era. Originally the structure was going to be demolished but now the historical building has been restored and it all started with a vision from the Kern River Parkway Foundation.

“It’s just a thing that can not ever be re-created so protecting and furthering the vision of it and having this vision that we can make it happen,” explained Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard.

Maggard says that the $1.2 million in funds to refurbish the adobe house came from the chief community development block grant.

“There must be something we can do to not have this building torn down, and I agreed. It’s taken a long time for it to happen. A lot of tenacity, a lot of holding on. A lot of not giving up. But having a vision for what can be and what can happen, how good the future could be, that’s what's key.”

Billy Cooper from the Kern River Parkway Foundation says that they plan to host the adobe house as a nature center for children and their families to learn about animal species along the Kern River

“It’s of historical significance. It’s a WPA. This is one of the last ones in Kern County so rather than having it demolished, the idea was to restore it but then you have to repurpose it. It can’t just sit here. That’s when everything kind of came together about developing a nature center here for the kids.”

The WPA or Works Progress Administration "was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression," according to the website "Over its eight years of existence, the WPA put roughly 8.5 million Americans to work. Perhaps best known for its public works projects, the WPA also sponsored projects in the arts – the agency employed tens of thousands of actors, musicians, writers and other artists."

Cooper adds that the nature house will serve as a great program for children and their families to engage with the outdoors during the summertime. A unique nature experience right in their backyard.

“We have a great opportunity with this huge park. Our goal is outdoor experience and offer some outdoor education. The kids are starving to get outside. You can just see it.”

The Nature Center at Hart Park will host a variety of summer events like nature hikes, scavenger hunts and more for community members to learn and enjoy.