Granite Falls man dismantling his 111-year-old house

GRANITE FALLS — As far as Earl Ingebright is concerned, the old cedar house is one of a kind. He marvels at the structure, which was built upon tree stumps entirely from hand-hewn cedar. The small house is sliding off its meager foundation, but despite 111 wet winters, the wood is still dry and solid.

Ingebright, 94, is in the process of tearing the house down, piece by piece. It breaks his heart, but his insurance company wants it fixed up or taken down.

Ingebright has a deadline of Aug. 3, so he spends his afternoons now carefully removing the valuable cedar, and because he doesn’t want the roof falling in, he is taking it apart from the inside out.

Earl and Laurine Ingebright bought their forestland in 1959. Nestled below Deer Mountain along the road between Arlington and Granite Falls, their property was fronted by the rustic house. In the ’60s, the Ingebrights, their daughters and their son spent most weekends and vacations in the old house.

Ingebright and his son David run an award-winning tree farm on the property, which today is dotted with two homes, barns, bridges and even a small Norsk hytte, a small cabin that Earl built for visits by his extended family.

Records show that the Ingebright place was homesteaded in the 1880s by Scandinavian immigrant Ole Elison and most likely sold to a man named Peter Nelson, who probably built the original one-room house from old-growth trees logged from the property. One can see the 1901 newspapers that the first owners pasted up against the walls to keep the sawdust insulation from spilling out.

“I can’t believe the amount of work that went into its construction,” Ingebright said. “The siding is made from 12-foot hand-hewn planks. Inside, it’s clear-grain cedar panels. Not a knot anywhere.”

Ingebright called Fred Cruger, president of the Granite Falls Historical Society, to come out last week and take a look. Cruger wishes the structure could be taken apart and reassembled somewhere in town.

“We can’t take it because we can’t afford to do the job safely, and we have no place to put it anyway,” Cruger said. “Gosh, it’s shame to see it disappear.”

Ingebright plans to save the antique pressed-glass windows and some of the paneling for the Granite Falls museum. He might try to sell some of the valuable wood, which includes rafters, beams and shingles. He isn’t sure.

“Things don’t last forever,” Ingebright said. “It would take just too much money to restore it.”

Ingebright is happy that Cruger wants parts of the house for the museum.

“I would love to see a display that acknowledges that it existed. There are no other houses like this around,” Ingebright said. “When we first bought the place I didn’t pay attention to the craftsmanship. Now as I’m tearing it down, I am just flabbergasted.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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