Mesa will resume restoration work on the historic home of the city’s first black doctor after having to halt repairs this spring.
The city plans to repair the exterior of the Alston House, which will protect the aging structure from further deterioration. The inside needs extensive work also, but those repairs will have to wait because the city doesn’t have enough money to do the entire project at once.
The house now sits behind a chain-link fence, its windows boarded, and the ground around it is nothing but dirt. The house was built in the 1920s and was the home and office of Dr. Lucius Alston. It’s at the corner of Fifth Street and Pima near Washington Park.
The restoration would make the house a gathering point again, as it would house the Mesa Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee and the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens.
It probably would have been complete by early next year if the city had the funding it planned on, said Ray Villa, Mesa’s Neighborhood Services Department director.
Mesa was starting work and expecting it could get the state to reimburse $100,000 worth of work through the Arizona Heritage Fund. The state cut access to the money this spring in the face of a massive deficit.
Mesa had done about $6,000 and halted work once the state froze the fund, Villa said. Now, the city has approved $65,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, and it plans to do the inside in perhaps a year after finding other funds.
“What we’re trying to do with the first phase is kind of complete the outside of the structure, minus the windows,” Villa said.
The windows are too costly and will have to wait, he said. The entire project will cost about $250,000 and involves new plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and floors.
It was disappointing to see the restoration delayed, said Everette Woods, MLK Committee treasurer. But residents in the area are still eager to see the house restored and become a point of pride, he said.
“All the people in the neighborhood are really excited,” Woods said.