Showplace home makes Everett historic register after renovation

EVERETT — It started as a place to live and a source of rental income.

Over time, the painstaking restoration of a century-old showplace on Grand Avenue turned into a labor of love for Craig and Carolyn Parker.

“It’s a process that starts with something old and ugly but results in something that is absolutely magnificent,” said Carolyn Parker, sitting beside an arched fireplace in the home’s spacious, light-filled living room.

The house at 2031 Grand Ave. was added last month to Everett’s Register of Historic Places.

Once the residence of notable figures in Everett’s early history, the house was carved into six tiny apartments after World War II and rented out mostly to single men and women. It remained that way for about 50 years, until the Parkers decided in the late 1990s to return it to a single-family home.

Restoring the neglected three-story house meant living in the attic while gutting partitions, kitchens and bathrooms.

To get to the original fir floors, the Parkers stripped out layers of linoleum, plywood and carpet. Replacing brass door handles, hinges and other hardware required visits to salvage yards across the state, then peeling away paint and polishing the tarnished metal.

One contractor hired to repair lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings walked away from the job. They had to install new support beams in the basement and rebuild chimneys that had fallen down.

A barn red paint job was covered with a more subtle color scheme of green, beige and cream.

“You have to be patient,” Craig Parker said.

Based on water hookup records, the Parkers believe the 4,000-square-foot house was built in 1907, making it 102 years old.

The shingle-style house with Craftsman elements was originally built for William Cleaver, the owner of a successful dry goods and ladies clothing store.

Cleaver, a native of Hanover, Germany, who left his home country at 14, may have incorporated German architectural elements into the house as a nod to his background, Craig Parker said.

A few years after it was built, it was sold to H.J. Clough, the executive of the Clark-Nickerson Co., a large sawmill on the waterfront with 300 employees that shipped its lumber all over the world.

Clayton M. Williams, a prominent attorney and the first president of the Rotary Club in Everett, owned the house for about 20 years beginning in the mid-1920s.

Their house is the 30th property added to the city’s historic register since it began two decades ago as a way to encourage preservation of Everett’s heritage and to honor those who cared for the city’s old buildings.

While interior design is not required for buildings on the Everett historic register, it certainly earns points with preservation buffs.

“They moved more toward a restorative process versus just refreshing materials and adding a coat of paint,” said Mark French, an architect and chairman of the Everett Historical Commission, who recently toured the home.

For example, the Parkers rebuilt a butler’s pantry that had been torn out decades before, and they replaced apartment fire doors with antique five-panel doors, similar to the home’s original doors. They also tried to match original trim and molding.

During the past few years, two condominium buildings across the street have risen from the footprints of single-family homes, blocking views from the first two floors of the Parkers’ home.

While the Parkers could have redeveloped their property in a similar fashion, they chose a different route for the old house.

David Dilgard, a historian with Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room, said the community would have lost a gem.

“Thank goodness it fell into the hands of people who love it,” he said. “Now we all get to love it.”

Reporter David Chircop: 425-339-3429, dchircop@heraldnet.com.

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