The dilapidated little bungalow that briefly housed two future U.S. presidents named Bush more than a half-century ago will be turned into a museum.
"My hope is that kids will come here and say if two presidents lived right here in Bakersfield, maybe I can accomplish great things too," said the home's owner, Republican political consultant Mark Abernathy, who also plans to build a children's reading center in the backyard.
George and Barbara Bush rented the two-bedroom, 950-square-foot (88-square-meter) white frame house on Monterey Street with their 3-year-old son, George W., while the elder Bush was working as an oil-field equipment salesman, the AP reports.
Kern County officials approved the museum project last month. But some residents of the now heavily Latino neighborhood found it hard to believe that the 41. and 43. Presidents of the United States lived there for three months in 1949.
"Yeah, right, you're dreaming," said Lupe Fernandez, a real estate broker and mother of six who was dropping off her 1-year-old daughter at her sister's house across the street.
The long-vacant home's hardwood floors are mostly covered by green shag carpeting, and a chain-link fence surrounds the property. Abernathy, who bought it for $65,000 (Ђ53,770) in 2000, said the museum project will cost about $500,000 (Ђ413,600) and will be funded by private donations.
When the museum opens in 2007, it will feature Bush family photos, including one of little George W. on a wooden horse with a cowboy gun, plus items from the oil fields that fueled Bakersfield's boom. A new building in the backyard will house four classrooms for after-school reading programs for local children.
"Our goal is to restore it to exactly the way it was when they were here in 1949," Abernathy said.
Help will come from the Bush family, the Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, and the Kern County Museum in California, he said.
Another former Bush home in the 1950s in Midland, Texas, also is being turned into a museum. But the Compton, California apartment complex where the family briefly lived was bought and razed several years ago by school officials after it turned into a squalid drug haven.