Sometimes people walk into a home and just know it’s right. That’s what happened with Bob and Adele Ringwald, Placerville residents for almost 21 years.
“We wanted to buy a home in El Dorado, but this house just called us,” Adele said. “There was just something about this house. We felt like we belonged.”
They’re the third family that’s owned the historic home, Adele said.
It was built in 1865 and is on almost a full acre in the historical part of Placerville about five minutes from Main Street.
The Ringwalds lived in Citrus Heights for 17 years, Los Angeles for 17 years and moved to Placerville in 1996.
They like the small-town amenities, attractions and benefits.
For instance, when they made a large, heavy purchase at the Placerville Hardware Store, an employee carried it to their car.
“Boy, we’re not in L.A. any more,” Bob said.
He added that it’s the oldest continuously operating hardware store west of the Mississippi and employees there will spend 15 minutes looking for a screw that costs a nickel. The store dates back to the Gold Rush.
Adele said, “There’s so much here including the Gold Bug Mine. The kids love that, they love gold panning and I love going to the antique stores and great restaurants.”
The two are not retired. They have a vending machine business and had cafeterias in Los Angeles.
Bob is a professional jazz pianist and Adele is a trained chef.
He said they spent years raising kids and never ate out.
Now, they’re enjoying Placerville’s fine eateries as are many other residents.
Wendy Thomas, Placerville council member and former mayor, said several “really good restaurants” have opened over the years as well as a lot of mom-and-pop stores.
Debra Miller of Bella Real Estate said the quaint downtown area has many good restaurants and it’s walkable.
“The trail system runs through downtown so people can visit shops or get something to eat while going through town.”
She likes living in the city and rides her bike downtown to go to the shops and restaurants.
Thomas is a long-time resident — she was born at Marshall Hospital.
“My family has been here since the Gold Rush,” she said. “And I’ve always had a love for this city. Placerville will always be home to me.”
She ran for City Council because of a “sense of legacy. I wanted to get more involved.”
The city’s primary attraction is that Placerville has a real working downtown, unlike other historic towns which are strictly historic districts, she said.
“You can go downtown, shop at a store, get a prescription filled and then join a friend for coffee.”
Placerville was named by Best Choices Review as having one of the best small downtowns in America. It was No. 28 on the list of 50. And it was one of 20 cities in North America selected by Benjamin Moore Paint to have buildings on Main Street painted a couple of years ago.
“We’re real proud of that,” Thomas said.
“The amenities in our small quaint town include Gold Bug Mine which was featured on a NOVA TV program,” she said. “It keeps the Gold Rush history alive.”
Other amenities include the network of walking and biking trails.
“It’s a real outdoor playground.”
Miller said Placerville’s lifestyle and the cost of housing compared to the Bay Area attract people. Most of her clients are from the Bay Area.
“There are so many things that draw people here. They are mostly looking for the lifestyle, the slower pace, less lines of traffic and the wonderful community feeling. You can go into stores and people talk to you.”
It’s also an easy commute to jobs in Folsom and Sacramento, she said.
Plus there are eight wineries in the county and a couple in Placerville which draw a lot of people to the area, she said.
The downtown has been upgraded with new paving and brick cross walks.
The city also is part of a project of the El Dorado County Health and Human Services to have high school students turn a parking space into a parklet. There’s only one in Placerville near the Bell Tower, but it’s a place where people can get coffee and sit outside, Miller said.
And last fall, the World Gold Panning Championships were held in the city.
New homes in the area include Silverado Village, a community for active seniors designed by Silverado Homes. They’re located on top of a hill in Placerville with beautiful views, Thomas said.
“They’re really charming patio homes, single-family homes connected with walking trails.”
New single-family homes are also offered at The Ridge at Orchard Hills from NHCommunities, Miller said.
There are two new hotel projects, Thomas said. One is a boutique hotel in the early development stages.
A Boys and Girls Club of America just opened last month and provides space for 300 children a day where they can do homework and have music lessons. It’s a benefit for working families, Thomas said.
Real estate values have gone up significantly, Miller said, because of the lack of inventory.
The lowest priced listing is $175,000 in Placerville, the highest is $2,399,000 and the median sold price is $349,500 for a home that is approximately 1,800 square feet.
“Median means some are higher and some are lower, but I would say that in the true median price is around $395,000,” Miller wrote in an email.
Currently there are 52 homes for sale in the Multiple Listing Service area labeled as Greater Placerville.
For people looking for the slower-paced lifestyle, they’re probably perfect.
Tinka Davi is a freelance writer and editor based in Folsom.
Where: approximately 45 miles east of Sacramento
Size: Approximately 5.8 square miles
County: El Dorado