The Verboon Home: Steeped in Hanford History
When it comes to the innovations and technologies of our culture, there is always something new and exciting to be celebrated. At times, however, our modern mentality of “out with the old, in with the new” can overshadow the positive aspects of the past. In the midst of our material pursuit, it’s important to remember how we got here and where we’re going.
One Hanford family has found the perfect balance as they recently restored their 110-year-old family home, bringing together the best of the past and the promise of the future.
The century-old home’s revival is all thanks to the Verboon family, who has had four generations of family members under its roof over the last 70 years. Even in the midst of extreme termite damage and years of natural deterioration, Jill and Doug Verboon were determined to bring it back to life as an ode to Doug’s grandparents and as a nod to the future.
“This house has been in Doug’s family for a long time, and basically, we did the remodel to pay homage to them,” said Jill. “They took care of it and were always here for us, so it was like, you have to leave a legacy for your family too…we wanted to take care of it and not just rip it down.”
Doug, who is the District 3 Supervisor in Kings County, and his wife Jill moved into the home in 1987 after his grandparents moved out. As a child, Doug has countless memories visiting his grandparents in the home to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. He also grew up helping his family out on the property’s farm, which was and still is called Gold Top Ranch. Today, Doug considers it a privilege to live in the home, where he and Jill raised their four children.
“I told my grandma, ‘I am going to live here one day,’” explained Doug. “My grandparents wanted me to live here, and it was really important for them to have me continue the ranch and keep it together. I’m very honored to carry that on.”
While the Verboons started gathering ideas for the renovation in 2006, they didn’t pull the trigger until 2013. Any later, and the house might have literally started to crumble. Once the construction crew began tearing down walls to make way for the expansion, they uncovered major termite damage.
“We had no idea we had termites, but only found them when we started the remodel,” said Doug. “When they took all of the walls down, there was no wood left.”
There was one point during the renovation when both Doug and Jill thought they couldn’t salvage what was left of the house.
“When the renovation started, I thought, ‘we messed up…we’re never going to have the house again.’ One wall was falling off the foundation, and that wall over there was rotten,” said Doug, pointing to a wall in his kitchen. “It was bad, so we had to do it or we would have had nothing. But nine months later, our builder was finished, and it’s better than ever.”
One aspect of the renovation that was important to the Verboons was maintaining a consistent look throughout the entire house, especially when it came to preserving the subtle Asian-influenced design in the original living room.
“Everything downstairs went except that living room because it was the only piece of the house that was original to the 1906 build,” said Jill. “Because our living room is so big and beautiful, we wanted to make sure everything flowed with that and kept the same angles. We didn’t want guests who walked into the house to say, ‘Oh wow, I can tell exactly where you added on.’”
With the help and vision of their builder Jay Paulson at Jay’s Construction, they were able to bring the unique lines and angles from the living room into the kitchen and throughout the add-on so that it looked like the original landscape of the house. In addition to the kitchen remodel, the Verboons built a larger entryway, wine room, dining room, office, and a downstairs master bedroom with a full master bath. Their home went from having three bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom downstairs to four bedrooms and three bathrooms throughout.
“Our builder did a great job,” said Jill. “There are very few small changes I would make, but the fact that he could take that living room and those lines and make it happen all the way through is a miracle.”
In fact, the same Asian-influenced architecture that makes the Verboon home unique is found throughout several other buildings and homes in Hanford. It is believed that the architect who designed the home in the early 1900s also designed the structure that housed the old Imperial Dynasty restaurant in China Alley, as well as a house on Redington Street in Hanford, which is now home to Adair and Evans Accounting.
“If you were to go inside Imperial Dynasty, all the straight angles and architecture is almost identical to our house. It obviously has a lot more Asian influence, but it’s very similar,” said Jill. Doug added, “That’s why when we did the remodel, we didn’t want to lose the corners and the beams.”
Back in 1906, the Verboon home was originally built for a newlywed couple with the last name Morgan. While some of the home’s history is unclear during that time, it’s known that the couple did not live there long, and the property was eventually transformed into a Chinese labor camp for the nearby railroad.
When Doug’s grandparents bought the ranch in 1948, the land was all wine grapes and some walnut trees. His grandfather took out the grapes in 1949, flattened the land, purchased some more property, and farmed corn, cotton, and grain. And thus, at 159 acres, the original Gold Top Ranch was born.
“I grew up farming out here with my grandfather and my dad,” said Doug. “I’ve always farmed. I was chopping cotton when I was eight years old and I was still chopping cotton at 45.”
Today, Doug farms 187 acres of walnuts on the ranch, owns a commercial property shopping center in Lemoore, and is about to start his eighth year as District 3 Supervisor of Kings County. Between these three jobs and the couple’s community involvement, Doug and Jill maintain very busy lives. But full schedules don’t stop them from doing what they love to do most: entertain friends and family in their newly remodeled kitchen.
As an avid cook, one of Jill’s must-haves was a large kitchen that could fit a lot of people, a lot of food, and even more fun. In redesigning the kitchen, they installed a 6-by-12 foot island equipped with a warming drawer for keeping food fresh and ready-to-go throughout the night.
“We’re always having people over and everyone hangs out in the kitchen, so we wanted a big kitchen. We put tons of food around here and it’s full of people all the time. Once, I even caught one of our friends sneaking meat out of the warming drawer,” laughed Doug.
For the kitchen’s design, the edges of the island and the wet bar were inspired by the balcony in the living room. The additional layer to the tops of the beech wood cabinets were also designed with the living room in mind.
One of Jill’s favorite finds for the kitchen was the granite for the countertops. Years before the remodel, Doug and Jill were hiking near Grant Grove when they came across a riverbed with the perfect granite.
“I took a picture of the bottom of the river and said, ‘that’s the kind of counter tops I want.’ This here looks almost identical to it,” said Jill. “When we were shopping for the granite, we probably spent only 15 minutes picking it out.”
When it comes to the décor of their home, Doug and Jill aimed for a comfortable and welcoming look, with just a touch of old-world charm.
“For me, I like things that bring the outdoors in,” said Jill. “Anything that looks earthy. I want everyone who comes in to feel comfortable and cozy so they can enjoy themselves.”
The Verboon’s backyard is also a testament to their love for the outdoors. With plenty of space for guests to relax by the pool, the backyard is a welcoming oasis in the midst of the valley’s extreme summer heat. But the backyard wasn’t always that way. Doug’s grandpa believed in using every square-inch of property for farming, so he would grow cotton right up to the front steps of the house. When Doug and Jill first moved in, the only thing separating the pool from the ranch was an ivy-covered fence. Over the years, Doug slowly but surely expanded the front and back yards.
“My grandpa was the kind of guy where he would be a little upset with us when we changed something about the house or added to the backyard, but then he’d go and brag about it to his friends,” laughed Doug. “It was kind of cool.”
During the 2013 renovation, and with the help of Creative Landscaping, Doug extended the backyard even further to include a beautiful garden with a creek, a 12-foot waterfall by the pool, and a lawn for entertaining guests. As a county supervisor, Doug and Jill have hosted large events with up to 200 people in their yard. Their home was also featured on several home tours, including a Christmas Home Tour and the Hanford Garden Club Tour.
While Doug says his grandpa might have put up a playful fight about the renovation, he knows he would be proud if he could see the finished product today. Thankfully, his grandmother was able to see the house in its early renovation stages.
“She was thrilled that we were extending the home’s life,” said Jill. Doug added, “She really wanted to see the end of it. She was so proud. She’d come out during construction and would tell all of her friends at her senior living home about it.”
While some people might have thrown up their hands when facing a renovation of this magnitude, Doug and Jill had their hearts set on bringing it back to life. Not only did they restore their family home for future generations, but they also preserved a piece of Hanford history while honoring their grandparent’s legacy.
“We’re very thankful to be in this house and to have what we have, and we love our little town here in Hanford,” said Jill. “It’s all about where you grow up and what your roots are. It’s a family home, and hopefully someday one of our children will want to live here too.” Doug added, “We wouldn’t be here in this house if it weren’t for my grandparents. We feel their presence all the time.”