Past meets present

A view of the dock and the ship, Elmira, a 1930, 36-foot English cutter, at the Beaufort property that sold in a day earlier this month. The boat, built at a Lake Union shipyard, was named for Elmira Beaufort who lived on the property for over 60 years.  - Mary L. Grady/Mercer Island Reporter
A view of the dock and the ship, Elmira, a 1930, 36-foot English cutter, at the Beaufort property that sold in a day earlier this month. The boat, built at a Lake Union shipyard, was named for Elmira Beaufort who lived on the property for over 60 years.
— image credit: Mary L. Grady/Mercer Island Reporter

It is not the first time that Island realtor has sold a home in a single day, and these days, it won’t be the last.

Island real estate agent, Lindy Weathers, knew the nearly pristine 33,000 square feet of land situated on the water on the north end would sell quickly. But this was epic.

“I posted the offer at about 10 p.m., and by 10 a.m the next day, I had my first offer, she said.

Soon there was a total of five.

“We could have had at least five more offers,” she continued, “but we told callers that there were five already in.”

Weathers said that the sellers will get their asking price of $2.4 million and a bit more.

At least three of  the buyers were international, she said. And there were cash bids. The offer the owners selected is from a local builder.

Weathers who grew up on the Island and has sold homes here for many years, says there are few properties that she has not seen. But this was one.

The land and the old house  built in 1914 has been untouched for decades and is not visible from the street. It took Weathers and her husband and a team of helpers a month to clear the land and haul away debris and old furniture.

They even hired the ‘We Take Junk Truck’ that is often seen parked in the Town Center, said Weathers.

There were blackberry vines that had grown over the front windows on the house and on to the roof.

But the view from the dock is stunning, encompassing south Bellevue and the roof tops of downtown there. To the far northwest, SR-520 is visible on a good day. On a sunny day recently, birds wheeled above the boat. The water was crystalline.

The home was originally built in 1914. The name of the original owners is lost.

“It was really just a summer cabin,” said Marilyn Beaufort. But the house changed little over the years. It still has the remains of a coal bin and an original furnace.

It took several days and trips to the dump to clean up the structure, which Weathers said is unsound.

Despite the still fine fir floors and other sturdy features, the ceilings sag and the floor in the front room slopes. The home has not been occupied for seven years said Marilyn Beaufort, after her mother-in-law, Elmira Beaufort died at 95. John Beaufort Sr. died in 1983.

The property was marketed without any value attributed to the house. It will be demolished.

The house was purchased by John Beaufort Sr., who immigrated with his family from Holland to California in 1920. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in engineering. He later came north to Seattle, where there were many other Dutch people. He worked for Paccar for many years.

He and his wife Elmira bought the home and land in 1929 for $7,500 — the equivalent of $103,000 today. The couple moved in to it in 1930 and later that year, their first son, John Jr. was born. Also that year, the elder Mr. Beaufort commissioned a 36-foot English cutter to be built at a Lake Union boat yard. It was christened “Elmira,” for his wife.

The Beauforts had three children; John Jr. who lives on the Island with his wife Marilyn, a brother Pete who was killed in a car accident in 1955 and a sister Jean, who lives in Sequim.

The family had a large garden and chickens. As a boy, John Jr. sold and delivered the chickens to teachers at the East Seattle School.

Now, the small house sits between two very large and much more modern, upscale homes that face the water. The property has 60 feet of north and northwestern facing no-bank waterfront. The expanse of lawn flows from east to west mostly without barriers beyond the clumps of hedges or trees.

Marilyn Beaufort remembers when all the lawns along the lake ran together and the children would be free to roam and play.

While no one seems to mourn the loss of the old house, the ‘Elmira’ will remain with the family.

“No one is ready to part with it,” Marilyn Beaufort said.

Yet, there still could be treasures in the tangles of shrub and weeds that remain on the property.

Elmira Beaufort, a Canadian, grew up in  Victoria, B.C. She was a friend of Jennie Butchart of the famous gardens there of the same name, explained her daughter-in-law.

In the summers, the Beauforts gathered up their three children for long voyages on the Elmira, stopping for several days along the way. They would tie up the ship at the back gate to the Butchart Gardens on the shore of the Vancouver Island.

The two women shared a love of flowers and plants. No doubt Elmira brought a few cuttings home to plant on the Island.

The front rooms of the original shingled house, built in 1914, with its many windows facing the lake (photo by Mary L. Grady).

A view of inside the old house (photo by Mary L. Grady).

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