A 1906 farmhouse, one of the last on Petaluma's suburban east side, was officially declared a local landmark Monday, affording the home built by Danish immigrants a place in the city's future.

The Hansen House, built by the families of Hans and Anna Marie Hansen shortly after they arrived in California, will be the centerpiece of a 34-unit rental housing subdivision on North McDowell Boulevard.

City Council members unanimously supported the designation for a home that was on the chopping block several times.

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett was on the historical preservation committee when a prior developer sought to move or demolish the two-story house.

"It's amazing what a different attitude this is than the developer that came in at that time – which was 'just get rid of the house,'" she said.

Santa Rosa developer Hugh Futrell included the home's rehabilitation as part of his North McDowell Commons project.

The subdivision has been approved by the Planning Commission and construction could start soon.

"I'm pleased to see the applicant cooperating in this," Councilman Mike Healy said, particularly since few farmhouses remain east of Highway 101.

The Hansens, with members of their extended families, built the modest farmhouse on what was then a quiet rural road on the outskirts of Petaluma.

Over the past 15 years, developers have proposed a series of projects on the site, none of which included saving the house. Each time, local preservationists worked to save the house.

Showing historic photos of the house in its early stages, planner Heather Hines noted the unusual water tower attached to the rear of the house and the cutout-style front porch.

Today, the house sits neglected on two acres, boarded up and behind a chain link fence.

"It's had a rough go," she said.

For nearly 30 years, the Hansen property was a bustling chicken ranch. It was also a meeting spot for Danish farmers and immigrants, a hub for parties and host for the Danish Sisterhood, which Anna Hansen helped start. Anna Hansen was well-known as a midwife in the community.

Futrell intends to refurbish or replace the home's rustic wood siding, install new single-hung windows, install new front and rear doors, rebuild the exterior wood stairs and railings, replace the roof and stabilize the chimney.

Two large Canary palm trees at the entrance will remain and two others will be relocated to the rear.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.