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Thursday, February 2, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Future for houses with a history

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Three historic Kirkland mansions are about to see major changes in the coming months.

One is for sale, with eight new homes planned on part of the site, one sold Monday and a third sits vacant while new owners negotiate to purchase adjacent land for new development. All three houses, built between 1910 and 1929, will be preserved.

• Shumway Mansion, a 6,050-square-foot house at 11410 99th Place N.E., is for sale. The 1910 house was moved from downtown Kirkland to its current location in 1985 and has been a bed-and-breakfast and reception center for weddings and meetings. The price tag for the eight-bedroom landmark building overlooking Juanita Bay is $1.575 million. The price does not include 2.5 acres of the surrounding grounds, which have been purchased by a development company. Shumway 10 plans to build five houses in the northwest corner and two homes plus a duplex on the southeast corner of the lot. Platting plans will be heard by the city hearing examiner at 7 p.m. today in Kirkland Council Chambers. Approval will end the reception business at the mansion.

• Marsh Mansion, a 1929 brick Tudor home on the National Register of Historic Places, was sold Monday for a reported $1.9 million. It will remain a private residence and the central building in a development of $1 million town houses on Lake Washington Boulevard. It was built for Louis Marsh, one of Boeing's original engineers whose metallurgy work changed airplane construction from wood and fabric to metal. The new owner plans to restore the five-bedroom brick home at 6604 Lake Washington Blvd. that comes with maid quarters and a former indoor gun range.

• Nettleton Mansion/Green's Funeral Home, built in 1914 for Seattle Post-Intelligencer Publisher Clark Nettleton, has been empty for two years, since it was purchased by CamWest Development. Negotiations are under way to purchase more of the adjacent land, said Carolyn Gladwell, vice president of marketing and sales at CamWest. CamWest is noted for small developments of Craftsman-style homes and is expected to do something similar on the State Street property. The company has no plans to move the house at 400 State St.

The person who buys the Shumway Mansion will get the house, about 25,000 square feet of land and the potential for the house to continue as a bed-and-breakfast on a smaller scale. Overnight rentals of two bedrooms would be permitted on the reduced lot. Jon Regala, an associate planner with Kirkland, said an owner could apply for a special zoning permit to rent more rooms.

The Shumway comes with tidbits of local history. In 1994, Bill Gates and other Microsoft leaders held a planning retreat at Shumway, where they reportedly decided to get involved in the Internet.

The house was built for the Shumway family, eight adults who moved to Kirkland in the early 1900s. These included Mary, Carrie, Elizabeth, Edward, Antoinette, Emma, John and Hattie. Each Shumway contributed to the $40,000 price of the building, completed in 1910. According to a Kirkland history book, the contractor lost $5,000 on the deal.

Carrie Shumway was the most famous of the group. She taught at Seattle High School along with Emma and Mary. Carrie was the first woman elected to Kirkland's City Council in 1911; she was the first woman in the state to serve on any city council.

When condominiums were planned for the house's original site, the developer offered the building to anyone who would pay to have it moved.

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Salli and Richard Harris, backed by several investors, stepped forward. They purchased acreage near Juanita Bay. In March 1985, the building, which measured 41 feet by 85 feet and was estimated to weigh 165 tons, was moved three miles north.

"It was the original money pit," Richard Harris said. "Old wiring burns places down and old plumbing floods. So what we have is a 1985 infrastructure or innards covered with a 1909 exterior."

At one point, Harris estimated they installed 3- miles of new wiring. The couple paid attention to small details to keep it historically accurate. When they needed a railing for a staircase, they hired a violin maker to carve the wood. Period radiators came from a Seattle building being torn down.

"It would have been cheaper to build a replica, but you can't replicate the feeling," Harris said. "People walk in the house and say it is just like my grandmother's house."

Although he enjoyed operating the bed-and-breakfast, Harris discovered early on that weddings weren't his forte. He had to learn to be quiet.

"Weddings were a challenge for me until I learned to shut up when the mother of the bride talks," Harris said.

Instead, his wife, Salli, became the mansion's bridal expert: great at solving problems, resolving emergencies and calming mothers, grooms and brides.

All that experience will soon retire.

Richard Harris said they have mixed emotions about selling the property and house.

"We're 75-80 percent sorry, but I'm 75 and I want to sit on the beach in Mexico," he said.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com

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