November 25, 2010

Demolition crews take down Carl Bray house

The Carl Bray House and Gallery was demolished and will soon be replaced with an “interpretive exhibit” to showcase artifacts from the historic site. (Courtesy of the City of Indian Wells)

Mariecar Mendoza
The Desert Sun

The last of the Carl Bray House and Gallery has been torn down to replace what the Indian Wells City Council called an “attractive nuisance” with a safer alternative.

Demolition of the more than 50-year-old building began last week, with final work completed Wednesday, Indian Wells officials said.

On Nov. 4, the City Council approved the demolition and gave the green light for city staff to move forward with work on an “interpretive exhibit” to showcase artifacts from the historic site.

The demolition was the result of more than a year of debate between city officials and residents who wanted to preserve the historic building.

The building was named after Bray, an artist known nationally for his desert landscapes and smoke tree paintings and has been a staple of the city since the early 1950s.

The city purchased the 14,148-square-foot site in January 2009 for nearly $260,000 claiming the structure posed a “safety hazard.”

The city spent $56,000 for the environmental impact report and legal services needed to ensure a vetted process.

The demolition cost about $58,000, said Community Development Director Corrie Kates.

Had the city decided to rehabilitate the building, city officials said it would have cost an estimated $960,000.

“We tried our best to save something of old Indian Wells,” said Adele Ruxton, president of the Indian Wells Historic Preservation Foundation, who fought to preserve the historic site.

“I hope that whatever appears as the interpretive exhibit on the Carl Bray site really depicts not only the artist who lived and worked there, but tells the story of old Indian Wells when it was but an Indian Village.”