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A working man's home in Edmonds

506 Bell St. added to historical designation, but not everyone approved it

 

October 3, 2019

Brian Soergel

The house at 560 Bell St. has been added to the Edmonds Register of Historic Places.

The 20th addition to the Edmonds Register of Historic Places wasn't a unanimous choice.

Unlike others on the list – the stately Dutch colonial at the end of Caspers Street or the grand Palmer house at 820 Maple St., for example – the unimposing residence at 560 Bell St. is a simple brick home with a brick chimney, sloping windows, and a bay window out front.

Maybe that's the point.

According to the Historic Preservation Commission, "the house recalls the early 20th century development of the city. While the house was originally constructed in 1911, it was altered circa 1942 with the brick veneer being added as well as minor alterations to the floor plan."

On Monday, Sept. 30, Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission members Laura Johnson, David Preston, Tim Raetzloff, and Larry Vogel presented an historic designation plaque to owner Diane McEachron. Mayor Dave Earling was also on hand at the home.

"All four here voted for it, but a couple of the purists did not," said Raetzloff, who writes a history column for the Beacon. "Clearly, the house is different than it was in 1911. However, the addition was in 1942, and that's still 77 years ago. (Other commissioners) also said the architectural style is not significant, but the argument some of us made is that it's pretty typical of working family houses of the era. And this was very much a working town."

A working town, indeed. As every Edmonds kid knows, or should know, Edmonds was a mill town, with shingle mills lining the waterfront.

"If you go to some of the other places that have old buildings, like Port Townsend and Snohomish," said Raeztloff, "you've got all these mansions all over the place. Well, Edmonds didn't have any, because Edmonds wasn't really a very prosperous place."

The house's elements reflect Edmonds cultural, social, and economic architectural history, said Johnson. "It exemplifies a working man's home."

In addition to the projecting, hip roof bay window on the primary north facade and asymmetrically placed center door and attic casement window, a pair of double-hung wood windows are located on the facade, as well. Both windows feature soldier coursing at their heads.

A small shed roof extends over the entrance. A second story dormer extends out on the western side of the roof. The brick chimney on the eastern facade includes an inlaid anchor.

To be included in the register, a property must be significantly associated with the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or cultural heritage of Edmonds.

About that anchor on the base of the chimney, which can be seen when passing the house at Bell and Sixth Avenue North?

We assume McEachron, who purchased the house in 1986, gets plenty of comments on it.

"Oh, all the time," she said. "If I'm out working in the yard, people ask me to tell them about the anchor – what's that all about?"

You see, she tells tthem, there was a Capt. Miller in the Merchant Marines.

"The story I hear is that his wife had that brickwork done while he was out at sea, to surprise him. It's a good story, but maybe it's fake news." (Editor's note: Got the story? Let us know!)

Another thing: The two-bedroom house has one bathroom, the latter not originally on the premises.

"One room upstairs, one downstairs," McEachron said. "The bathroom was added."

Outdoor plumbing, perhaps.

All nonseriousness aside, there actually is a benefit to owning a home on the historic register.

Brian Soergel

The home at 560 Bell St. in Edmonds is now on the Edmonds Register of Historic Places. From left: Laura Johnson, David Preston, owner Diane McEachron, Tim Raetzloff, Dave Earling, and Larry Vogel.

According to the City's website, a special tax valuation is available to properties listed on the Edmonds Register of Historic Places. Under special valuation, qualified rehabilitation costs are deducted from the assessed value of the property for 10 years.

In addition, the Edmonds Community Development Code normally requires that buildings that don't meet current zoning standards (such as height, setbacks, etc.) can't be reconstructed if they are damaged or destroyed by more than 75% of their replacement value. They have to meet current codes.

However, buildings listed on the Edmonds Register of Historic Places are exempt from this requirement – they can be rebuilt even if they don't meet current zoning bulk requirements.

If McEachron decides to make any changes to her home, however, she must get permission from the Historic Preservation Commission. If changes aren't approved, McEachron can take the home off the register of historic places.

Does that mean the site could be sold and built into condos?

Yes.

Unfortunately, that's not fake news.

 

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