Tom Butt
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September 12, 2023

Almost everyone asks me, “How do you like retirement?”

I have to explain that while I have involuntarily (termed out) transitioned from being an elected official, I have hardly retired. Incidentally, no longer being saddled with the responsibilities of elected office is, actually, wonderful. I don’t miss it a bit.

I have never “retired” from working at Interactive Resources, the architecture-engineering firm I founded nearly 50 years ago. In fact, next week, we celebrate our 50th anniversary (See Interactive Resources Marks 50th Year in Business in Richmond, September 7, 2023). I have a full l load of projects I am working on, including:

  • Repairs to Decks, Sliding Glass Doors and Breezeways at Bella Vista Apartments, Richmond
  • Reroofing, Rooftop HVAC, VAV and BMS at Justice Joseph A. Rattigan State Building in Santa Rosa
  • Exterior Planter Rehabilitation and Waterproofing at Elihu Harris State Building in Oakland
  • Window Replacement at the Sisk Courthouse in Fresno
  • Study for Expansion of the Coalinga State Hospital in Coalinga
  • Rehabilitation of the Jesse Unruh State Building in Sacramento
  • Water Leak Repairs at the Suisun City Hall
  • Roof Replacement at the Interdisciplinary Science Building at UC Santa Cruz
  • Electric Substations 4. 5 and 8 at UC Berkeley
  • Siting Feasibility Study for a new CalFire complex in Sonoma County
  • Peer Review and Consultation on Plaza Replacement at the Santa Ana Federal Building

Most, but not all of these are building envelope related, which has emerged as my current area of expertise. As you might guess, a lot of our clients are dozens of federal, state and local public agencies. Being in local elected office for some 28 years has given me a 360o look at public contracting.

Figure 1 – Historic Unruh Building (State Treasurers office) in Sacramento. My scope, as a sub to TraenorHL,  includes roof, windows, waterproofing, cement plaster and metal flashings.

Figure 2 - Rattigan Building in Santa Rosa - my scope includes new rooftop HVAC, new roofing, New VAV and BMS

Figure 3 - 30-bed expansion of Coalinga State Hospital

Figure 4 - 30-ned expansion of Coalinga State Hospital

Nor have I retired from serving on the boards of the two Richmond-based nonprofits I founded: East Brother Light Station, Inc. 45 years ago and Rosie the Riveter Trust 24 years ago. Rosie the Riveter Trust is having its annual fundraiser dinner next week. (See Rosie the Riveter Trust Annual Dinner Gala September 23, 2023, September 6, 2023). This year, I started a new nonprofit, The Winehaven Trust, which is committed to saving the endangered historic buildings of the Winehaven Historic District and currently is suing the City of Richmond to discharge its maintenance responsibilities.

Figure 5 - maintaining the mechanical equipment that powers the historic diaphone foghorn at east Brother.

Figure 6 - Volunteers, nicknamed "Wickies" – here taking a lunch break - converge at East Brother the second Saturday of each month to maintain the historic infrastructure.
A roof of a house with a green roof    Description automatically generated
Figure 7 - The mission of The Winehaven Trust is to save the historic builds at Winehaven. Here you see a caved in roof on one of the cottages that leads to destruction of interiors, wood decay and mold.

As an exciting new chapter, our family purchased a historic building in the old Gold Rush mining town of Sierra City. It is the town’s historic schoolhouse built in 1883. It is located right on Highway 49 between Sierra Buttes and the North Yoba River. The National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the Old Sierra City Schoolhouse is on the Agenda for the State Historical Resources Commission for Friday, November 3, 2023. Click here for a copy Main Street NRHP Nomination.pdf. The original one-room school portion is largely intact, right down to the old blackboards. The rear has been converted to a 2 ½ bedroom apartment.

Sierra City, part of the “Lost Sierra,” is the Gateway to the Lakes Basin Recreation Area.

Figure 8 - Original schoolroom of the Sierra City School

Figure 9 - The old Sierra City School

Figure 10 - Hiking in the lakes Basin

Figure 11 - Where the pacific Crest Trail crosses the North Yuba River in Sierra City

Figure 12 - Downtown Sierra City (population 84) on a rainy September day

If this is retirement, it’s okay.