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Posts Tagged ‘historic building’

How will we know it’s us without our past?

John Steinbeck

There is a Bothell I used to know. It is an increasingly distant memory, a mist flickering on the moors of my imagination. What remains of that Bothell amounts to the dying embers of a fire that is being stamped out by an oversized boot called Progress.

In the early 20th century, progress was a large house for the Ericksen family, Bothell pioneers. Gerhard Ericksen was a state legislator whose legacy lives on although most people don’t know his role in the building of Bothell. The Ericksen family only owned this house for a few years. Then it became home to a different family who stayed for quite a while.

The Bothell the Ericksens helped build was not a city that decimated its natural resources and constructed seas of soulless boxes priced beyond what many could bear. It was a Bothell that coexisted with much of its natural environment, that built individual homes with sufficient space between them.

This is summer 2019. Unable to bear the high property taxes any longer, and with property values going through the roof, the strained owners of our eclectic beloved shopping center sold out to developers. An out of state company headquartered in Atlanta stepped in.

Fences went up, buildings started coming down. I was told that the City of Bothell didn’t have the money to save any historic buildings at Country Village on the Bothell-Everett Highway south of Canyon Park. The developer did not respond to questions.

The free-roaming chickens were rounded up and rehomed. People started to take mementos from Country Village without permission. There were online auctions and some of us asked what protections the ducks would be given. We were assured that the duck pond would stay, but that did not mean a thing for the surrounding land that the ducks have nested and lived on for generations.

Have you ever watched Disneyland burn? That’s how losing Country Village feels. For decades we shopped there, ate there, fed ducks there until they banned it, saw Santa there, sang songs there, took photos of the reindeer there. Country Village is where people went for haircuts, Moso bags, toys, antiques, Pirate Day. You could stop by for no other reason than to sit on a bench near the pond and enjoy a bag of kettle corn.

There was a peace there. Malls don’t have this peace. Urban shopping centers don’t have this lifeforce. The feathered fowl, the willow tree, the aging arches and old wagon lent themselves to a calm in the frenzied Seattle metro bustle. No matter how busy it was, you could hear yourself breathe.

On this sweltering day I stepped inside the northern arch to photograph one of the buildings that, to my amazement, was left standing. A security guard approached and related how people were waltzing into the property despite signs indicating that we needed to go no further than where I was. A red dragonfly hovered above his car as we talked at length. Who were you really, dragonfly?

Above is one of the two buildings that I learned would be left standing until April 2020. If someone does not move the buildings by then, they too will be lost forever. So I put the word out– free houses! But there they stand, and now it’s October. They have less than six months to live unless we find a kindhearted soul to save them.

This is the front of that old building. I stood there and stared into the ragged trellis of 2 X 4s designed to protect its interior. But for how long?

How long have these houses stood here unmolested? And now they waste away in hopes of a savior, a moving truck, new land to live the rest of their lives. I remain perturbed that there has not been an organized effort to save them. There are so few like them left.

I still have books I bought in these buildings as a kid.

The Ericksen House served as Whitehouse Antiques in recent years. They had quite the collection of candy and chocolate in addition to metal signs and antiques. Visitors would wind their way through its midsection, then clomp downstairs to circle the basement where, inevitably, someone would always trip at an unexpected step down. Then you’d clomp upstairs past the records on the wall and visit the old bedrooms that were either too hot or too cold.

In an era of big box homes with tiny to no yards, it’s disturbing that a historic beauty like this could go the way of the dodo. Experts tell me that because of vandalism and remodels much of the interior isn’t original. But the bones are still there. And it’s still significant. And it’s still one of a kind.

Descendants of the Ericksens marched in the 2019 Bothell Fourth of July Parade.

This is now October 2019. The former Country Village site looks like someone scraped away all of its trees and creatures and structures with a merciless metal spatula. Someone meaning Progress. This is what’s happening throughout King County as forests are being razed for huge developments, like the travesty in Black Diamond where thousands of cookie cutter homes will transform that wild, tiny mining town into Anywhere, USA.

The land regulations that allow this alarming displacement of wildlife and construction of myriad buildings that are grossly unsuited to the surrounding habitat are supposedly environmentally sensitive. “People need somewhere to live” they tell me. Why do they have to wipe out the local biome and pack people in like sardines? “We need affordable housing,” they say. Then why can’t longtime locals like myself even afford half of one of these supposedly affordable units?

This is the land where we ban plastic straws but tear down acres of proud ancient trees without regard for the inhabitants who’ve been there for thousands of years. There is no empathy for the mountain beavers, coyotes, deer, possums, raccoons, bears, birds, fish. Many of the new inhabitants have no connection to the surrounding environment or local history.

What’s that in the distance? To the right?

What’s that to the left? Oh. The same generic buildings that will soon fill the entire site. That seem to be dominating the Seattle metro area. That are consuming the I5 corridor from Chehalis to Bellingham.

This is what’s left of the duck pond. The rest of their habitat has been destroyed. I don’t know how ducks will be able to roam a high density complex of concrete freely, but Progress knows.

Look north and there it is, its footings being sheared away by loud machines. The Ericksen House is still standing proudly in the face of impending destruction. It’s nightmarish seeing this, and only this corner, of the village left.

It seems illogical, implausible, impossible that in a community as collectively wealthy as Bothell that we cannot find enough of us to band together and save this.

This is not a sinkhole. Not literally. But these buildings will be sucked into the sinkhole of Progress next spring without intervention.

The arch that used to say “welcome” now serves as a billboard for the demolition company.

Near. Far. But near could soon be so much farther that we’ll never see it again.

Will the road signs have to be changed too? Or will they stay and remind us of what Progress has cost?

As if there weren’t enough of these on the former back lot already, here are over a hundred more… along with thousands up and down the Bothell-Everett Highway. As an out of town visitor said, this road seems to have turned into a nonstop block of high density from downtown Bothell to Everett. Where is the wildlife supposed to go? Where are the lower to middle class people supposed to go?

After taking that photo I looked south. This cloud looked like a hand, a tidal wave, an angry face, or perhaps, if you tilt your head to the left, a mighty angel sheltering something with its wings.

If buildings could talk, these two might be reciting lyrics from the ’80s, the decade Country Village was born.

My defenses are down
A kiss or a frown
I can’t survive on my own…

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now…

Above is the Ericksen family plot in the Bothell Pioneer Cemetery near UW Bothell, established 1889. Like the house they built so long ago, their graves face east, hoping for new life.

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.

David McCullough

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Trueblood House 8-17 1

Disney Pixar’s Up House

August 15th, 2017: It happened! One year from when Kirkland’s historic Trueblood House last moved, it finally landed in its permanent home. Thank you to the amazing new owners who made room for it and took on the expense.

Today’s journey began here on the southeast corner of 1st Street and 7th Avenue where the house has been moored in a church parking lot atop a trailer.

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Looking south about 12:40 P.M., you can see the preparations being made for the house’s move around the corner.

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Later on… thar she blows!

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It certainly isn’t every day that you see a house in the middle of the street, especially a late 19th century structure complete with a stained glass window.

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Note the balloons. They are a color-appropriate homage to the Up house! What a cheery and festive touch.

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Here Nickel Brothers moving begins to navigate the turn east onto 6th Avenue.

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They couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.

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See the house. The house is relatively level. Onlookers are making predictions as to how long the house will stay in the street.

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Then– GAAHHH!!! The house suddenly began tilting to the left as a gathering crowd collectively gasped. Was the house falling off the trailer?!

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Oh, it looks like it’s tipping, doesn’t it? Evidently the trailer has hydraulics and they shifted the house to navigate past the massive maple on the south side. As you can see from the branches lying on the sidewalk on the left side, that tree got an impromptu haircut to facilitate safe passage as well. Also note the downspout on the right that caught on the tree. It didn’t fall off.

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Now it’s about 3:40 P.M. and the house is being backed into its new lot. This shot shows just some of the many trucks involved in the move. Communications lines had to be taken down and put back up, there were pilot cars– many different companies helped make this possible.

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It really does look like it’s going to float away.

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These workers kept cutting boards and placing boards and making sure everything was perfect as the house was slooowly backed into position. Note that the house is suspended over a huge hole in the ground. More on that soon.

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Just beyond that center bush is a refrigerator that was said to have come out of the old house. Not only was it handy stadium seating for this event, but a cohort remarked that it was also the ultimate cooler.

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Then the move became even more interesting as this big boy was backed in to assist.

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This was a great moment I almost didn’t catch. One of the movers brought balloons over to this mini-onlooker who was rocking his own PPE. Because this was taken on private property, children’s faces are omitted, but it still captures the joy.

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The behemoth newcomer was chained to the trailer to assist as the first truck backed up.

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So much work went into this move. Some people stayed for hours watching the carefully choreographed moving mambo.

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Here you finally have a sense of the yawing abyss. There were men down in there keeping an eye on things as the house sometimes creaked and shuddered into place.

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There it is. This is a cause of rejoicing for the local community, especially the local history buffs.

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The cavalcade of bucket trucks put wires back up with amazing speed. This is one of the last lines to be restrung.

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They had to get it just right before leaving for the night.

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As I texted to friends, “It’s sitting on giant Jenga blocks, then plywood, then the trailer.” The cribbing is holding an estimated 60 tons. Although the primary truck will stay hooked up to the trailer overnight, it is due on a ferry by tomorrow afternoon. So work will begin again in the morning.

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Overall, this was a fantastic experience. Thank you to the new owners for their hospitality and for saving a landmark. Kirkland’s first doctors lived in this home and some of those in attendance had lived in it for years to decades as well. This is a well loved house and I’m grateful that– albeit in an enhanced version (you’ll see)– it will live on.

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Russell: [reading from his scout handbook in monotone] Good afternoon. My name is Russell, and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross the street.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your yard.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your… porch?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: Well, I gotta help you cross *something*!

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©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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