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Julie and Jon Kramer

Julie and Jon Kramer inside the one-time church in Pacific Grove that they plan to renovate into a geological museum and micro-hotel.

Celia Jiménez here, thinking about how cool a museum-hotel that’s in the works in Pacific Grove sounds. My colleague Pam Marino wrote about this dual-purpose business concept in a story published in this week’s paper. My geeky side is overjoyed about the idea of having a one-stop place to stay and enjoy rocks and fossils at the same time.

The project will turn a church that’s near the border between P.G. and Monterey into a geological museum featuring fossils and skeletons, including sea creatures that lived in the Monterey Peninsula’s waters in prehistoric times. The church—which is a wood timber building—may not be a historic building, Marino says, but it fits Jon Kramer’s concept. “It’s a good setting for a museum.”

Marino doesn’t remember how she first learned about the story—most likely when Kramer’s company first filed a lawsuit against the city in 2021 for refusing to accept his permit application. The project got its approval on Jan. 12.

Kramer’s idea didn’t come out of thin air. He and his wife purchased a retirement home in P.G. that they used as an Airbnb—they had a permit from the city before short-term rental licenses were limited—decorating it with their rocks, fossils and other geological treasures. It was very successful with people returning for future vacations to share the home with their kids and grandkids.

I wondered if this concept would fit in P.G., and Marino said she thinks it will. “It's right near the border with Monterey. And it's near the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I think it will fit in as an interesting addition to that little area,” she says. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History is also only blocks away, in downtown P.G.

I also asked Marino her thoughts about transforming unused or under-used churches into something else. “There should be an effort to renovate old churches into housing,” Marino says. Marino is the housing reporter for the Weekly, so this answer isn’t surprising. Not long ago she wrote about the Yes in God’s Backyard movement and local efforts to provide affordable housing on church grounds. 

Marino’s story made me wonder if there are other churches up for sale in Monterey County, just waiting to be turned into something new. But for right now, my inner geek can’t wait to see Kramer’s business come to fruition.

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