Little Everett house with a lot of history goes into foreclosure

EVERETT — A small house in Everett’s Riverside neighborhood is going up for foreclosure auction Friday.

But the house at 2712 Pine St. is special. Built in the winter of 1891-1892, the house is one of the oldest residences in the city, and probably the oldest that has retained its original architectural character.

Unlike the Rucker Mansion or other grand estates of bygone tycoons, this was a house for the masses, said David Dilgard, a historian at the Everett Public Library.

“This is a classic example of the little houses the real people would live in,” Dilgard said.

The house, a one-and-a-half story cottage with a footprint of 994 square feet, was built by the Swalwells, a family that owned much of the Riverside neighborhood in the 1880s.

The Swalwells platted out the area as soon as Washington was granted statehood in 1889, just in time for a land rush.

The Swalwells built two cottages next door to each other; one was torn down in the 1970s to make way for a fourplex apartment building, Dilgard said.

The surviving Swalwell Cottage was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It is also on the state and city registers.

A National Register listing doesn’t necessarily offer any protections, Dilgard said, except to the extent that local preservation groups can use it to strengthen their case to preserve it.

The Swalwell Cottage was designed by architect F.A. Sexton, who Dilgard said pitched a tent in the Riverside area in order to sell his services to buyers rushing in to snap up the newly available land.

Sexton went on to design many important buildings in the city, such as Rudebeck Hall, the Brue Building, the Hotel Everett and the McCabe building. Thelatter stands at 3120 Hewitt Ave. and is listed on the National Register.

The Swalwell Cottage is a mix of styles, with siding on the ground floor and shingle cladding on the upper story.

“The beauty of this thing is that it’s kind of a throwback,” Dilgard said.

According to historical documents, Albert Swalwell, one of seven Swalwell brothers, lived in the cottage during the initial land rush in Everett then sold it to his brother, Wellington Swalwell.

However, in what may be seen as ironic foreshadowing, Wellington Swalwell lost the home to foreclosure in 1896 during the depression caused by the Panic of 1893.

It’s a grim scenario playing out again.

The house’s current owner, Mike LaPointe, bought the house in 2009 for $193,500, according to Snohomish County property records.

LaPointe, who owns the Firewheel Community Coffeehouse and has twice run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, fell behind on his house payments while keeping his business afloat during the recession.

He has since relocated the coffee shop to the corner of Colby Avenue and California Street, a location which gets more foot traffic. Consequently, the business is doing better, with revenues up about 25 percent this year, LaPointe said.

LaPointe said he is still trying to work out a deal with his bank to prevent the house from being sold Friday.

“It would have been saved a long time ago if I’d just given up on the Firewheel,” LaPointe said.

The house has seen better days, Dilgard said, saying that several years ago it was damaged by fire.

When LaPointe bought it, he stripped and painted the entire house, but didn’t have money to do any other upgrades. The fan for his furnace failed, so he has no more central heat, he said.

“It needs a lot of work,” he added.

Nonetheless, it’s a house that means much to Dilgard. He helped write up the proposal that resulted in the Swalwell Cottage being added to the National Register.

“It was a mandatory stop on every bus tour I ever gave for school kids,” Dilgard said. “It’s a charming little house.”

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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