S arita and Don Rodenhizer could have afforded a new rambler when they bought their first home in 1975.
Instead they chose a ’30s era home in Everett’s Riverside Neighborhood. Along with the charm of an older Craftsman home, they bought a mountain of work.
They’ve tackled stripping old siding, adding new windows, and painting and rebuilding an old porch. They’ve yanked out carpenter ant-infested junipers in the yard and planted a cottage garden with a mix of roses, lavender and phlox.
Sometimes Don Rodenhizer, a 56-year-old railroad engineer, comes home from an all-night stint and does more work on the house. Sarita Rodenhizer suggests that maybe climbing a ladder for so many years contributed to her need for a hip replacement.
“I think it shows what kind of person you are,” said Sarita Rodenhizer, a 53-year-old homemaker. “We just do it because it makes us feel good. We come home and everything looks neat and nice.”
This home is loved.
Tonight the Rodenhizers and nearly 60 Everett home- and business owners will be recognized for taking care of their properties with a Monte Cristo plaque and a handshake from the mayor.
After 31 years of working on the place, someone official finally took notice.
That’s the point of the Monte Cristo Awards, developed a dozen years ago by a former city councilwoman, Marian Krell. Instead of ticketing people for trash-littered yards and dilapidated homes, the city can also reward them for doing things right.
Susan Russell, 61, and Falken Forshaw, 64, don’t particularly care for yard work.
They do care about their home and neighbors. In the 33 years they’ve lived in the Northwest Neighborhood, they’ve developed the large, unfenced yard into a parklike spot with tall Douglas firs everyone can enjoy.
“Dogs and cats walk around the yard, kids come over,” said Russell, a retired high school art teacher.
They bought the home 33 years ago when it was a one-bedroom cottage. Forshaw, an architect, designed an addition for the house that manages to retain the house’s character and add a contemporary edge. The couple named the home “Red Berry Corner” after all the red-berry laden hawthorne trees in the yard.
They added personal touches such as a stained glass piece in the front door and hand-painted ceramic address plates.
The large front yard stayed grass while the couple’s children were young. Later, they asked Hap Wertheimer, an Everett landscape designer, to give them some help. The couple didn’t have much money for the project so Wertheimer organized a neighborhood work party to help them spruce up the landscape.
“I never thought we could get anything like that because we’re not big time gardeners,” Russell said.
Terry Brundage is in charge of the flowers and Doug Brundage handles the grass at their Valley View home.
The division of work seems to be working for the couple. Their modest rambler looks like a quaint cottage with its profusion of colorful annuals and hanging baskets.
Terry Brundage, 52, works as a secretary for Everett Public Schools and Doug Brundage, 50, is a program manager for the Washington state Information Processing Co-op.
Brundage said her husband is a stickler when it comes to grass. He has killed it off several times and started over from scratch. He keeps it mowed and trimmed neatly.
“It makes me feel good, and I love to look out and see the beautiful colors,” she said. “We’ve worked to have it look nice.”
Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is welcome to attend the Monte Cristo Awards tonight at the Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave.
The ceremony will begin with a dessert reception at 6:30 p.m. and Mayor Ray Stephanson will begin shaking hands and handing out plaques 30 minutes later.
This is the 12th year the city has honored Everett homeowners and businesses for exemplary care of their properties. Citizens submitted 180 nominations and a committee chose about 60 winners selected from 19 neighborhoods.
Winning homes fall into two categories: rejuvenation, for neglected homes restored to beauty; and pride of the neighborhood, for perennially beautiful homes. Businesses receive a separate award.
Cal Moore, a homeowner in the Port Gardner Neighborhood, won the Director’s Award. The one-time honor exemplifies the well-maintained home and landscape the committee is searching for, said Wendy McClure, the coordinator of the Office of Neighborhoods.
The city will begin accepting nominations for next year’s awards in February. For more information, contact the office at 425-257-8717.