A gem saved from the wrecking ball: Historic house in Snohomish avoids demolition
Adam and Dana Hendry show off the kitchen and common area of the 129-year-old house on Cedar Avenue that they remodeled in downtown Snohomish. The planks on the ceiling are made of wooden shiplap said to be original to the house, which was discovered during the remodel process. “It was like striking gold,” Dana Hendry said.
SNOHOMISH — The many lives of a 129-year-old home were preserved when local builders saved the structure from the wrecking ball this June.
In five months, Dana and Adam Hendry have transformed a decaying church administration building to a magazine cover ready Victorian with a farmhouse feel.
The couple was searching for a proper office. Working from home with two young daughters and a growing client list was a challenge.
“I had this dream: I wanted to walk out my door to the farmer’s market,” Dana said.
Then she got a call about an old building on Cedar Avenue, right next to the footprint of the Snohomish Farmers Market.
The property was “questionable,” said real estate agent Kathie Salvadalena. “‘The value was in the land,’” she was told.
The property owners, Pursuit NW Church, had sunk $200,000 into the main church building next door, but couldn’t fund the extensive rehab needed for the secondary structure.
A consultant’s estimate showed that remodeling the 1,356 square foot structure could cost $408,925, while new construction would run $280,000.
In January, the city’s Design Review Board approved demolition.
The church opted to try and sell the property as-is.
The 1889 building was showing its age.
The front door was rotting, as were the eaves. There was no bathroom and what plumbing there was, was out of order. The windows were installed upside down. Obsolete knob and tube wiring predominated.
It was difficult, literally and figuratively, to see past the clutter filling the building that had most recently become a storage space.
But when Dana Hendry walked in, she had a vision of walking out into Historic Downtown Snohomish, getting her coffee and enjoying the market.
Husband Adam took some convincing.
“I know the big money is in tearing it down,” Adam Hendry said. The Hendrys specialize in modern construction, so the potential gain was not some abstract number.
He supported Dana’s vision of a renovation project for their office, but wasn’t sure this was the one.
She slowly won him over. The discovery of a vaulted ceiling, revealed by stepping into a tiny storage area door in the kitchen, gave them hope for what might be hidden by the disrepair.
Soon they’d settled on the purchase. Next came the shoveling.
On the Fourth of July weekend, the couple began gutting the building. From window to dumpster, they ditched decades worth of wood shavings used as insulation. There were layers of plaster, for one.
“I think we underestimated” the project, Dana Hendry said. “There were thousands of pounds, we filled dumpster after dumpster.”
The drop ceiling came down, too.
Soon, they discovered the shiplap — beautiful old planks that would become a highlight of the new office.
“It was like striking gold,” Dana Hendry remembered.
While the hardwood floor wasn’t salvageable, the subfloor remains, with the telltale slant of an old home. The Hendrys joked about giving a ball to their new tenant to enjoy watching it roll across the uneven floor.
Moving downstairs, the demolition turned into a treasure hunt.
“The last time these walls were ever exposed, there were no cars,” Adam Hendry said he realized.
In those walls, the couple found boxes-worth of artifacts.
A white cotton bib with ruffled edges, toddler-sized shoes and soft leather boots. Sewing supplies and square nails. A glass bottle from the Snohomish Drugstore.
History took shape under their fingers.
Dana Hendry still remembers with a laugh finding herself briefly in the ‘70s as she peeled back layers of wallpaper.
But as the house emptied, her vision for a true-to-period Victorian with a farmhouse feel emerged.
At first she was full of indecision about how to best recreate the Victorian. She spent a vacation poring through books about the period until she finally found the sentence that put her worries to rest: “‘Victorian architecture is up to individual interpretation.’”
“I slept easier after that,” she said.
A cream color scheme with pale blue and wood tone accents materialized. She ordered custom gables from an Olympia craftsman. Furnishings from a downtown Snohomish retailer. A box of ivory and soft blue tiles came out of storage, where they’d been waiting for the perfect project for years.
A claw foot tub with gold fixtures added a splash of panache.
Today, blanket-covered porch chairs invite visitors to soak up the atmosphere. A collection of framed photographs of early Snohomish history tell stories, and shadow boxes of the items found within the walls honor the house’s former occupants.
“I would never have torn it down if I knew what I do now,” Adam Hendry said.
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