Donovan memories

EVERETT – It must have been after midnight when Pete and Jennifer Hudson finally returned home to Oakes Avenue.

Michael V. Martina / The Herald

Pete Hudson sits on the porch of his Donovan District home with his dog, Turk. Hudson, his wife, Jennifer, and Turk are moving to a house in Lake Stevens after being told to leave their Everett neighborhood to make room for the Providence hospital expansion.

Still in their wedding clothes, the couple trudged through their soppy back yard into the house – Pete in a tuxedo and Jennifer in her long white dress and heels.

After making it through the mud, the newly married couple sat by their fireplace. They removed the pins from Jennifer’s hair, one by one.

As the pile of bobby pins on the coffee table got taller and her nuptial upsweep got shorter, husband and wife discussed the joy of the day’s events.

That day, Feb. 13, 1999, is just one of the many treasured memories of their eight years in the neighborhood.

The Hudsons and 11 other families on the block are now packing to move.

Some are struggling with the financial arrangements of relocation. For others, leaving the neighborhood and home they love will be difficult.

“There are so many things in that house that we can’t pack up,” Jennifer Hudson said.

The families rent from Providence Everett Medical Center, which owns 21 homes on a block in a historic northeast Everett neighborhood.

With the Everett City Council’s approval, the hospital is now embarking on a 15- to 20-year, $400 million expansion.

The block of homes is needed for the first phase of the project. Once cleared, it will temporarily serve as a parking lot and construction staging area. Eventually, it will house a parking garage and hospital bed tower.

The hospital is working with a developer to try to relocate as many of the homes as possible. By January, whatever homes remain will be demolished.

Providence spokeswoman Cheri Russum said the hospital has tried to help renters as much as possible.

The renters are all on month-to-month contracts with 30 days cancellation notice. In February, the hospital sent out a notice to renters telling them to begin their relocation plans.

On April 5, the hospital sent out a letter giving the renters “57 days’ notice” – almost double the 30 days the contracts require.

Russum said to help renters get into a new place, the hospital has also waived each family’s rent for the month of May. However, the money will not be available to families until after they’ve moved out.

“We know that moving does cause angst,” Russum said. “We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible.”

Though they’ve known about the possible expansion project since last fall, some renters are frustrated and feel they’ve been lost in the process.

“One of the things that really gets me is how invisible we are,” said renter Nancy Grant. “We’re just units – we’re not real people who have been here.”

When Clyde and Nancy Grant moved to Oakes Avenue 12 years ago, their son George was in first grade. Now, he’s a Marine.

Their neighbors, the Hudsons, will close on a house in Lake Stevens at the end of the month.

The Grants are in the process of being pre-approved for a home loan, and worry about being able to get a loan, find a home and move by May 31.

“After all these years, I just wish we had a little more time,” Nancy Grant said. “I’d buy this house if they sold it to me.”

Jennifer Hudson said after shopping around for houses, she values the uniqueness of the homes, build by early Everett developer Edward Donovan.

The homes have built-in shelves, fireplaces, old knobs on the cupboards and an ironing-board cubby in the kitchen.

“Nothing – nothing has the character that these houses do,” Hudson said. “Everything out there is very cookie cutter.”

For Nancy Grant, moving is emotional because of all the little things she’s come to love about their house and neighborhood.

“There’s millions of little things,” Grant said. “You know people, you plant plants, your kids grow up and go to school – I don’t know. You settle in.”

There’s the hydrangeas they planted last spring. The neighborhood barbecues. The new plum tree, a gift from their neighbors. Using the warm fireplace in the winter, and their back porch in the summer.

“You make your memories somewhere – that’s what a home is,” Grant said. “And this is a real ‘neighborhoody’ neighborhood. It’s just that kind of place.”

Reporter Jennifer Warnick: 425-339-3429 or

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