Downtown Clydesdale farm mansion sold
The Mission Bell farmhouse, barn and stables on the corner of East Spain Street and Second Street East in downtown Sonoma have sold. The historic property is part of a larger downtown parcel owned for decades by the Castagnasso family which for years has pastured Clydesdale horses.
The single-acre lot was listed at $2.5 million and sold on April 23 for just under $2.3 million, according to the Compass website.
Compass real estate agent Mark Stornetta represented the Castagnasso family in the sale. Christine Benson of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley represented the buyers.
Stornetta told the Index-Tribune that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is in place and that the agents cannot disclose the buyers or confirm the selling price.
The buyers are registered as a newly created entity, the 196 E. Spain St. LLC. The new deed filed in Sonoma County on April 26 shows the LLC registered to a residential address in Pacifica that is owned by Amelia (Amy) and Ron Pritchard. Emails to the Pritchards were not returned by press time.
The three remaining parcels of open pasture totaling 1.7 acres were not part of the sale and Stornetta said that they are not currently on the market.
The remaining open space on the property is zoned for “medium density residential,” which, if sold for development, would allow for up to 11 housing units per acre.
Christine Benson provided the Index-Tribune with a statement from the buyers:
“We are beyond thrilled to join the community of Sonoma as the new stewards of Mission Bell Farm. We are humbled by its significance and are committed to preserving the integrity and spirit of such a treasure. We hope to toast with our neighbors soon to another 100 years of a Sonoma landmark.”
The downtown Clydesdale farm property was first listed for sale as one parcel in March 2018 by the Castagnassos, causing alarm among local conservationists who bristled at having such a prime parcel of agricultural real estate for sale so close to the historic Plaza. Local historic preservation nonprofit the Blue Wing Adobe Trust launched a fundraising campaign in 2019 to purchase the property, but failed to raise the $7 million to purchase the downtown pastureland.
Since May 2019, the property at 196 E. Spain St. has been listed several ways - both the entire 2.7 acre parcel for $7.6 million and the farmhouse and barn as a separate parcel totaling 1.04 acres for $2.5 million.
The Mission Bell Farms property consists of an 1890s-era single-family residence, two barns and several other structures located in and around the downtown complex of historic sites – which includes the Mission San Francisco de Sonoma, the Sonoma Barracks, the Blue Wing Inn and the Sonoma Plaza, among others. The residence and barns are identified in the National Register of Historic Places as “contributing buildings” to the Sonoma Plaza National Landmark District.
“I hope the new stewards of this historic landmark farmhouse understand the significance of this property to our community,” said Sonoma City Councilmember and Blue Wing Adobe Trust board member Kelso Barnett. “Any potential plans for the farmhouse will undergo a rigorous public review process and must conform to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Properties.”
Patricia Cullinan, president of the Blue Wing Adobe Trust, described the news as “sad for Sonoma.”
“It is a loss to the community because the whole property is part of the character of Sonoma,” she said. “That farm intact is a reflection of our history, and once you lose a property like that, there is no going back.”
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