"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

A house with history

By on February 22, 2021 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
Jody said when the game’s on the living room TV, this family dining room with its vintage arch and beams hosts a variety of board games for their grown and still-growing extended family. 

And it shows in style and craftsmanship

Story by Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Mike Irwin

The early 1990s was a time of transition for Jody Downes after her life hit a sad, rough patch. 

Widowed and a mother of six kids, she left the Snohomish area to join her family, who had newly moved to Wenatchee. She worked hard at making a fresh start, opening a popular deli at what is now Link’s Columbia Station.

Ostensibly dropping in for coffee and a sandwich, Fred Padoshek, whose own very extended family has filled the area since 1886, winked at, wooed and won her, and in due time Jody gained a new life partner and an old house. 

The solid Craftsman bungalow holds some exotic details that indicate early 20th century interest in revival. Historic District records indicate “Gothic, Egyptian, and Swiss” architectural influences.

Both have been steadfast factors in her life for 25 years. 

Jody recalls that, restless after living on his Malaga ranch with Fred and three of her kids for a year or so, in a fit of pique she declared, ”I’m going in to town to buy a house.”

She’d had enough of rural and sometimes crowded living and wanted lots of rooms, old-world charm and sidewalk streets for a stroll downtown. 

And a house on Cleveland Avenue, platted in the Grandview addition in 1903 and built — official records vary — either in the 1910s or in the early 1920s, became the Downes-Padoshek family home. 

The 1995 sellers, Mike and Donna Cassidy — now owners of The Good Life (see Mike’s column in this issue) — had raised their own young family there for a while and were ready to move on, so once more the old house’s many rooms were filled and busy.

Fred, for years a local chef, had become a career roofer; Jody was a para educator for the school district. Over a quarter of a century, the couple’s blended family, seven kids total, grew up there or sought solace there and moved on. And they come back when they can, youngsters in tow.

The cheery red and white kitchen, remodeled carefully to preserve a vintage look, opens out to three areas of patio, deck and terrace in the compact backyard.

Jody and Fred still enjoy the traditional interior of the house, which was never remodeled into the popular great room/open-plan style, because it allows for separation. With 3,700 square feet on three stories, there’s always that coveted “away space” somewhere.

The kids call it The House of Doors, with seven doorways in view from the kitchen, but Jody defends the old style.

“It’s great, especially when the house is full, “ she said. “People can be watching a football game in the living room and everybody else is playing some board game in the dining room. Or they’ll be in the kitchen.”

Fred added, “And I can always get down to my man cave,” a big, paneled basement family room with a tidy woodworking area and sleeping quarters — though he admits it’s actually anybody’s man cave when the house is full.

The back lawn gave way over the years to no-maintenance patio areas; with the firepit, at the left bottom, as the most recent improvement. In warm weather, ivy covers the privacy fence for a sense of seclusion in the city.

This lively house is pedigreed, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Features from its long past, including family history memorabilia, give it personality, and it’s bookended by coincidence. The Coys, owners of The Restaurant (the Jody’s and Fred’s now-defunct favorite walk-to watering hole from the early years) live right next door. 

And on the other side? Fred has come full circle; after a long life with travels and travails to match he can look out the north end of their front porch to the exact room at the former St. Anthony’s Hospital, now Christopher House, where he was born.

Each level of the house shows the craftsmanship of another era. Beams, doors, wood flooring, original linoleum, built-ins, wood-framed and multi-paned windows, high ceilings, deep trim, arches and, yes, even steep staircases are all part of the original structure.

Jody and Fred have taken care to respect their home’s roots with vintage or vintage-look furnishings and accessories. A squint of the eye in most rooms can bring you back to Wenatchee’s early days.

Jody is particularly fond of two features. Fronting the home is a wide, glassed-in front porch furnished with white rattan, a perfect sitting area for most seasons and a buffer from the slight sounds of the city.

And she likes the look of the separate main floor “water closet,” probably a luxury when it was added on, which she retrofitted with wood walls to look a little more rustic. It adjoins an up-to-date master bath.

The warren of rooms in the basement once temporarily housed priests from the old St. Joseph’s, and Fred believes it benefited from their skills. A furniture maker and restorer in his retirement, he said, “they seemed to have time on their hands. This whole place is filled with handcrafted tongue-in-groove pine.”

One gradual change over the years was turning the grassy backyard into a multi-use space where pavers, gravel and rock boarders lend definition. No more expensive water, no more mowing. And, thick ivy on the fence creates a private outdoor family room.

A pergola shades an informal dining table, a much-used sitting area features a double swing, and the fire pit is a focal point for evening gatherings (or for pandemic-time gatherings in the winter).

It’s time for another family to make full use of the Cleveland Avenue house, so Jody and Fred have listed it with long-time friend, realtor Jonathan Corning (The Johns Real Estate Corporation). 

In their early 70s, the couple invested in a 31-foot RV a few years ago, and now they are primed to hit the highways for a long-anticipated road trip.

They have family and friends far enough away for adventure, and they figure they can happily live a year or two in transit, in close company, in a little house on wheels.

That sojourn may serve as a bridge to their next acquisition. 

Though they’ve made a good life in their big old house, they have no fear of change; being together and in touch with their loved ones matters most. 

Will they be ready to trade the romance of the past for the practicality of the present? Fred figures that their next non-mobile house, city or country but still in the area, will possibly be one-story, open plan and brand new.

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