Whidbey Examiner


Preservation project a journey to creating a home on Central Whidbey

By MEGAN HANSEN Whidbey Examiner Co-Editor
May 13, 2013 · Updated 2:36 PM

Above: Kathy Baxter shows off the upstairs of her new house. Part of the preservation includes moving windows upstairs to the original size and position. Below: Baxter removed roughly 20 layers of wall paper added on top of each other over the years. / Megan Hansen photo

Kathy Baxter wasn’t necessarily looking for a major construction project when she decided to buy a home on Central Whidbey last summer.

Although she did have an idea in mind of what she wanted, she said she didn’t think she would find it.

Two weeks later and her dream home popped up and was within her price range.

Baxter is now the proud owner of the Perkins House, built in 1890 and located on Ebey Road in Ebey’s Reserve. But it wasn’t as easy as that.

Baxter overcame many challenges while purchasing the home, including other offers on the structure and financing.

It took Baxter six months to secure financing.

There are only a few banks that will do construction loans, she said. “The historic restoration didn’t matter to the bank at all.”

“It does add cost and complexity.”

There was also the challenge of finding a construction company that could do the work.

After securing financing in January, Baxter also took the opportunity to apply for a Ebey’s Forever Fund grant.

She is one of a dozen owners of historic structures in Ebey’s Reserve receiving funding this year.

Baxter is doing a complete restoration on the property, including restoring historic windows, doors and siding of the home.

When stripping the home to its frame, Baxter said the original framing for windows was found as well as a door that was covered.

While the door isn’t conducive to creating feng shui in the home, Baxter said preserving a historic home has its compromises.

“When you’re doing a historic preservation you can’t really be dogmatic about what I want,” she said. “It’s about how can I give life back to this house.”

Construction is well underway, with new roofing installed, old siding removed and interior being stripped.

What’s been unearthed through all the layers of life is the soul of the home.

“The wonderful thing about this house is the more we peel back, the more quality we’re finding,” Baxter said.

Underneath the siding was more siding, original to the structure. Underneath the carpet and subfloor — hardwood floors.

The frame of the house reveals healthy wood more than a century old.

“The interior’s been there all along, it’s just sort of been masked,” she said.

One fun aspect for Baxter has been learning the history and lives that have gone through the home.

And she’s been able to find tangible evidence of it.

While removing drywall, a paper book of Christmas songs from the local church was found. Written on it, Virginia Sherman’s name.

Sherman lived in the home in the 1930s as a child.

Baxter also removed probably 20 layers of wallpaper.

While visiting with past homeowners, she said she learned wallpapering was a popular hobby.

While getting financing off the ground proved to be the biggest challenge, Baxter said she is surprised there haven’t really been any structural challenges.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky,” she said.

And she says she wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of the reserve.

“The help from this grant is helping so I can do an absolute preservation” Baxter said. “Annie (Kidd Matsov) and Mark (Preiss) have been an absolutely amazing enthusiastic resource.”

“They helped me connect to the community and history.”

Members of the community have also stepped up to lend a helping hand.

Recently a work party was held to help remove old siding.

“It didn’t take me very long to realize people in this community care about this property,” Baxter said. “It’s really become a community project.”


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