ZEPHYRHILLS - The Zephyrhills City Council approved the cost of an appraisal of the Jeffries House on Monday, taking another step to possibly purchasing the home.
The Jeffries House, 38533 Fifth Ave., was built around 1910-11 by the founder of Zephyrhills, Capt. H.B. Jeffries. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years it has been used as a residence and for business offices, but in recent years has fallen into disrepair.
Zephyrhills Mayor Danny Burgess brought the city council together about two weeks ago as the Community Redevelopment Agency to persuade council members to purchase the house.
At the CRA meeting, council members directed city staff to prepare a report on the costs involved with purchasing the home and for maintenance.
Burgess asked for a report on the findings at Monday's council meeting.
City Manager Jim Drumm said a Zephyrhills building official inspected the building and gave it a "very positive review," finding that it was in "pretty good structural condition."
Drumm said the city has asked a historic architect to look at the building to advise what will be necessary for historic renovation. Drumm added that historical grants are very competitive to obtain, but because the Jeffries House belonged to the city's founder, it may hold greater weight with a grant review committee.
Center State Bank in Zephyrhills holds the mortgage on the home and is currently asking $150,000. Bank president Tim Pierson has said the bank would be willing to reduce the price as a donation.
Council president Lance Smith said he thought the Jeffries House was the most historic structure in Zephyrhills.
City officials have said there are $500,000 in CRA funds available that could be used to purchase the building.
Drumm also said that funds that have been held in reserve from the sale of Zephyr Haven Nursing Home could be used. The nursing facility was sold in July 1996 for $4.2 million. The city received about $2.28 million after paying off a recently constructed Alzheimer's wing and other expenses.
Smith suggested that the council move ahead with an appraisal. Council members approved the cost of an appraisal in a unanimous vote.
Burgess said the purchase of the house should be a priority.
"We owe it to the city and we owe it to future generations to be able to tell the story of the history of our town. . In a lot of ways, it's the home that started it all," he said.