Painters Targeted After CA Building ‘Whitewashed’

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2023


Earlier this month, an historic stone building in Santa Rosa, California, was painted white—and some local residents have reportedly misdirected their anger at the painting contractors who were tasked with performing the work.

According to reporting from The Press Democrat, the Stone House was built in 1909 by Italian stonemason Massimo Galeazzi, but was recently ordered to be painted over by developer Thompson Builders Corp., who bought the building in February and have a proposal to repurpose it into a new boutique hotel.

As a result, Daniel Morales, owner of painting company Dan the Painter, which was hired to paint the building, said that his crewmembers have had to face the unwarranted wrath of residents who are upset about the changes to the building.

Morales said that about 20 to 30 motorists yelled insults and blared their horns at his crew as they were painting the building over the course of several hours on Oct. 6. One passerby also allegedly threw a rock that hit a crew member working on the property. While the worker was not injured, Morales said he reported the incident to the police, though he was unable to record the license plate number of the car.

“My company is a small company, a local company, and I work really hard every day … It’s just unfair,” said Morales.

About the Building

According to a biography of the building in The Press Democrat, Galeazzi was an immigrant stonemason from Tuscany who helped build several similar landmark buildings in the Santa Rosa area.

The Stone House first served as a home for the Galeazzi family, as well as a boardinghouse for young men, including fellow immigrants from the Massa-Carrara region of Tuscany. In later years, the building was reportedly purposed as a hotel, grocery store, tavern, speakeasy, “sanitarium” for tuberculosis patients, a topless bar and a substance abuse treatment center for women.

After the building was sold to Thompson Builders Corp. this year and the decision to paint the building white was revealed, many in the community expressed their disappointment and opposition—including some descendants of Galleazzi himself.

“I was in shock,” Michael Malvino, a great-grandson of Galleazzi, said when he first saw the new building. “It’s ugly. It looks horrible.”

“This is a historic building” added Malvino’s wife, Linda. “Bottom line, they’re destroying our history.”

However, their concerns didn’t carry much weight, as building is reportedly not listed on any local, state or federal historic registers, and thus, the paint job didn’t require city approval or trip any city codes.

And while his company was hired to carry out the work, Morales says that he had no say in the decision to whitewash the stone or make other changes to the building. He added that news coverage of the work on the building painted his company in an unfair light.

“It made it seem like it was our fault, but it’s private property. The owner can do what they want, and we were just doing our job,” said Morales.

“People are trying to point a finger and it fell on the most vulnerable.”

What’s Next

Paul Thompson, owner of the developer who bought the Stone House, told The Press Democrat that he’s received several angry calls himself about the changes to the building, but stressed that harassing those working on the building was wrong.

“I can understand if people want to voice their concerns to me, but they’re just doing their jobs,” said Thompson.

Thompson also pleaded for patience from the community as they await what the final form of the historic building will look like. He noted that there were no additional exterior alterations planned, aside from replacing some of the windows.

“We plan to preserve the building’s exterior in the exact shape and form,” said Thompson. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised with the final outcome.”

And while local historian Jeremy Nichols admitted he preferred the building’s original stone finish, he also defended the developer’s decision to paint the building.

“I don’t have a serious problem with painting something white—aesthetics aside … It’s not like tearing the building down,” said Nichols.

However, many of the Galleazzi family members remain upset about the changes.

“I realize we don’t own it anymore,” Michael Malvino—a painting contractor himself—said. “But this is our family history and heritage here. Everybody who owned it prior to now had enough respect to leave it as the historical site that it was.”

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building operations; Building owners; Coating Application; Commercial / Architectural; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Exterior painting; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Latin America; North America; Painting Contractors; PaintSquare; PaintSquare App - Commercial; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Renovation; Stone; Whitewash; Z-Continents

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.