Scott Swoboda has been planning his restoration of the Eagles Hall in Snohomish since he was a little boy.
“I drew this whole thing, just like you see it, when I was 10 years old,” he said.
At that point, the building, which opened around 1906, had fallen into disrepair.
Swoboda grew up across the street, at his parents’ general store, where the Snohomish Bakery is now.
He owns the now-restored three-story building at 801 First St. The ground level is home to a wine shop, a home-goods store and a popular frozen yogurt shop. Below that, opening soon, will be an Italian restaurant.
On the top floor is the immaculately restored Feather Ballroom, with a catering kitchen, bar and event space.
There are many wedding venues in Snohomish County. Few, if any, come with a celebrity endorsement, especially from someone with the star power of actor Chris Pratt.
In January of this year the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star posted on his Facebook page about the Feather Ballroom, writing, “My two friends back where I grew up in Snohomish, WA have completely restored the beautiful historic Feather Ballroom. The place is just gorgeous.”
Swoboda knew Pratt when the actor was just a kid growing up in Lake Stevens. Pratt hung out with Alex Petrakopoulos, who will now be running the restaurant Swoboda is building in the bottom floor of the building. That will open this summer.
Petrakopoulos “was the first person to go in there with me after we bought it,” Swoboda said.
Petrakopoulos helped Swoboda with a lot of the work to restore the building
Petrakopoulos and Pratt are still close friends.
“He is exactly the same today as when he was 16,” Petrakopoulos said. He brought Pratt by while it was still in progress.
Pratt loved the space and hopes to organize summer concerts there, with proceeds going to charity.
The building was built in the early 1900s as a meeting place for the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a service club that started in Seattle.
As the Snohomish chapter of the club aged, its membership dwindled, and they were looking to move to a smaller space.
In 2005, the Eagles sold it to Swoboda specifically because, he said, “I don’t change buildings.” Instead, he restores them.
Since he was little, he had dreamed of returning the building to its former glory.
“If I went into a negative cash flow for the rest of my life,” he said, “I wasn’t going to change what this thing is.”
Off came the corrugated siding that covered the outside walls, and some windows.
Out came layers of plaster and stucco and low ceilings that were slapped up over the original ceilings. In total, about a dozen semi-truck loads of rubble and debris was stripped out of the building.
The original sprung floor is still in the ballroom, built for dancing
“It kinda moves with you,” Swoboda said.
New lights, with programmable colors, hide behind molding and shine upward, showing off the curved ceiling.
Swoboda had wicker-style chairs custom made to match what would have been popular when the building was built.
The floor in the bride’s dressing room and the women’s bathroom is real linoleum, imported from Northern Ireland.
“It’s real expensive, but it will last forever,” Swoboda said.
The building is the magnum opus of Swoboda’s work in Snohomish. He has restored half a dozen of the downtown’s historic buildings, including the Oxford Saloon and the Triangle Building across from City Hall, and more of its residences, plus buildings in Everett and Seattle.
Restoration is just Swoboda’s side project. At his regular job, he runs distribution in Washington for the Bramble Company, a furniture manufacturer. The old-style furniture, which can be ordered with a pre-distressed finish, looks right at home in his old buildings.
He’s promised his partner, LynnD Stiles, that the Eagle’s Hall is his last project.
“He never has one project going on at a time,” she said. “It’s like eight.” At least, she says, “it’s never boring.”
After this, he says, he’s going into retirement. Well, what he calls retirement: a scant 40-hour work week.
Stiles handles the booking and planning for events that happen at the Feather Ballroom, as well as their other event venue, the Snohomish Event Center at 1011 Second St.
Their offices are across the street from the Eagles Hall, in what used to be an old gas station, which, of course, Swoboda restored.
Swoboda has been restoring old buildings since he was a teenager.
One summer he started working for Everett Olson, a Snohomish businessman who was heavily involved in the community.
Olson became a mentor for Swoboda, who helped him with his own restoration projects.
Swoboda was small and young enough that he could crawl underneath the buildings to clear them out.
“One whole summer I never saw daylight,” he said.
After that, Swoboda knew what he wanted to do with his life. He went back to school and quit on the first day. He was 15.
“I could see that two and two make four,” he said. “That’s about all you need for a business.”
He has always loved antiques, and old buildings. But, he says, really it’s about not letting a good thing go to waste.
“I’m not so much into restoring buildings as I am not getting rid of something that still has value to it,” he said.