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Century-old Everett house regains former glory

After four years of work, a rescued Everett home again stands proud

  • Jason Pontsler works on the top floor of the Wright house in Everett on Saturday morning. The house (above) on Rucker Avenue has sweeping views to the...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Jason Pontsler works on the top floor of the Wright house in Everett on Saturday morning. The house (above) on Rucker Avenue has sweeping views to the south and west.

  • The Wright House at 2112 Rucker Ave. in Everett, shown June 5.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The Wright House at 2112 Rucker Ave. in Everett, shown June 5.

  • Jason Pontsler works to cover up the windows before painting Saturday morning at the Wright House on Rucker Ave.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Jason Pontsler works to cover up the windows before painting Saturday morning at the Wright House on Rucker Ave.

  • Owner of Ultra Painting Co., Stan Larson works on the south facing side of the Wright House on Saturday morning.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Owner of Ultra Painting Co., Stan Larson works on the south facing side of the Wright House on Saturday morning.

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By Debra Smith, Herald Writer
@SnoCoBizJournal
Published:
  • Jason Pontsler works on the top floor of the Wright house in Everett on Saturday morning. The house (above) on Rucker Avenue has sweeping views to the...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Jason Pontsler works on the top floor of the Wright house in Everett on Saturday morning. The house (above) on Rucker Avenue has sweeping views to the south and west.

  • The Wright House at 2112 Rucker Ave. in Everett, shown June 5.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The Wright House at 2112 Rucker Ave. in Everett, shown June 5.

  • Jason Pontsler works to cover up the windows before painting Saturday morning at the Wright House on Rucker Ave.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Jason Pontsler works to cover up the windows before painting Saturday morning at the Wright House on Rucker Ave.

  • Owner of Ultra Painting Co., Stan Larson works on the south facing side of the Wright House on Saturday morning.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Owner of Ultra Painting Co., Stan Larson works on the south facing side of the Wright House on Saturday morning.

EVERETT — A historic home that nearly met the wrecking ball is now well on its way to getting a new life.
Painters are working on the outside of the American Foursquare-style house at 2112 Rucker Ave. and the inside is nearly finished, too, after four years of work.
The showpiece home, built in 1905 by early Everett bigwig Howard S. Wright, had become a dilapidated wreck by the time it reached its century birthday.
In 2006, developers wanted to knock down the Wright house and the one next door to build a 24-unit apartment project.
Bill Belshaw, who lives across the street, couldn't stand that thought.
So he bought the Wright house and the one next door, at a combined price tag of nearly $1 million.
“He was in a bidding war with a bulldozer when they came on market,” said Valerie Steel, a local real estate agent and a member of Historic Everett.
If Belshaw hadn't ponied up the money, she thinks the bulldozer would have done its work right as the economy tanked. The neighborhood would now be left with two large holes.
He's had support from the nonprofit group Historic Everett, including some fundraising dollars.
By and large, this project has been his alone to bear.
“It could be a big mistake,” he said. “There it was across the street. It would be an awful thing to have it be torn down and turned into a big apartment house.”
The house once belonged to Howard S. Wright and his family. He founded the construction company that built the Space Needle and Seattle Center for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.
The house was turned into eight apartments in 1961. By the time of the death of its last owner in 2004, the house had become a weather-worn hulk cluttered with old appliances and debris.
Belshaw, a past president of Historic Everett and a former county parks planner, knew it was probably impossible for his group to raise the money to preserve the house.
The project has taken a toll on “my time and my retirement plans and my bank account.”
He estimates he spent about half a million dollars on the restoration.
Originally, the nonprofit wanted to rally volunteers to help with the work. After he purchased the home, they realized the project required “too much expertise.”
Despite it all, the house is almost finished. The house was too altered to return to a single-family home, so instead it will contain five apartments in its four stories, Belshaw said.
He's trying to recreate as many of the original features as possible, including the paint colors. The main color will be a sage green like the one he found by chipping off old layers of paint. He also lovingly restored hundreds of panes of glass.
By the end of the year, he hopes work will be done and he can sell the house or rent out the apartments. It also will likely be featured in Historic Everett's annual home tour in the fall.
The old home he purchased next door, known as the Hilzinger house, received a new roof and enough work to stop it from deteriorating. He'd like to sell it, too, hopefully to someone who will preserve it.
Belshaw doubts he'll ever recoup the money he spent.
He said this is one of the last blocks in Everett still lined with all its original old homes.
For that reason alone, “I'm really happy to see it.”

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.



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