EVERETT — A 109-year-old historic home is set to have new owners who plan to keep it open to the public.
The Everett City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to transfer the Van Valey House at 2130 Colby Ave., to the Everett Museum of History, an educational non-profit group. The museum is getting the 2,700-square-feet home for free, a requirement of the 2002 agreement that put it under city ownership. City officials tout the benefits ceding one of their 153 sites that claimed staff time and funds without the previously hoped-for revenue.
“Although the Van Valey House is a beautiful home, it’s going to be in good hands,” Everett spokesman Julio Cortes said.
As early as spring, visitors could tour some of the museum’s collection estimated to have between 65,000 and 100,000 pieces related to Everett heritage and history.
According to county property records, the house was built in 1912 for Albert Louis Van Valey, a bottling business owner at the time in Everett. Van Valey hosted musical performances and parties in it for years before it was sold and had other incarnations until Betty and Ed Morrow bought and lived in it over 20 years before giving it to the city.
“We think they are exceptionally wonderful people, wonderful citizens, good contributors to the world at a lot of different levels,” museum executive director Barbara George said. “We wanted to help them continue to preserve that facility.”
Since 2004, Everett had offered it as a rental location and put the cultural arts department there until last year.
Prior to being shuttered indefinitely by the city during the pandemic, it cost $69 to $99 per hour with a $200 refundable security deposit ($400 if alcohol would be available). Using the Craftsman-style home came with a list of regulations and rules intended to preserve its historic nature, such as placing linens over the antique tables.
Over the years, the two-story home never caught on as a major rental destination.
Average revenue since 2013 at the Van Valey House was between $5,000 and $7,000, Cortes said. But the money wasn’t a lot better before then either with revenue under $8,000 since 2008, Everett assistant facilities director Jeff Harris said.
“A lot less than it costs to maintain the property, not even revenue neutral,” he said.
The transfer is expected to be complete in December, when it will be owned by the Everett Museum of History. By March, the museum’s leaders hope to have exhibits set up and many of the original furnishings, in storage for years, in place.
“The construction itself is something to be preserved,” George said. “They don’t build houses like that anymore; they use sheetrock and particle board.”
George said the Everett Museum of History hopes to use the Van Valey House as a satellite site as soon as March while construction continues at the main location at 2939 Colby Ave. Work there was delayed by the pandemic and the new target opening date is in 2024.
Like many turn-of-the-century homes in the area, it needs a lot of attention and investment. Harris said a facilities evaluation two years ago estimated the total cost of bringing the house to a “usable level” at about $500,000. That would have addressed issues such as chipping lead paint, an old boiler and HVAC system, exterior masonry and large trees conflicting with the driveway.
Those costs were considered too great for the city as it tries to address a structural budget deficit, and the work was often deferred.
“It’s going to save us quite a few dollars,” Harris said.
George said the museum’s trustees know what they’re committing to and are already applying for grants, looking for new donations, and plan to use volunteers to help with some of the property’s upkeep, such as landscaping.
The museum also plans to continue offering it as a rental space.
“You can take your book club there, your ladies club there,” George said. “Just to sit in the dining room for a luncheon is beautiful.”