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A two-story, 1,500-square-foot home for $99,000
Editor's note: Marge Smallbeck said the house at 19159 8th Ave. was not there when she lived in the house next door in the 1950s. She believes the house was moved to the site after she moved in 1954. She said her father bought the property where the house and the public works yard are in 1951 or 1952 and “there was nothing there except the creek, which flooded all the time." The house at 19159 8th Ave. was built elsewhere in 1930, according to Kitsap County Assessor's Office records, and was apparently moved to that address later.
POULSBO — The early story of the house at 19159 8th Ave. NE sounds idyllic.
This area, near 8th and Iverson, was out of town when the house was built in 1930. There was no Highway 305 then, just farmland as far as the eye could see. Your morning was more likely to be interrupted by the sound of a cow mooing than a car passing by.
The south fork of Dogfish Creek gurgled along the property, as it does today, on its way to the Malme farm and what is now Poulsbo Village — it was Little Valley then — en route to the estuary.
The cute two-story yellow house next door, built in 1910, was there then; so was the house next to it, built in 1916.
In 1965, when Vince Zuarri turned the former Malme farm into a golf course, you could have walked from 19159 8th Ave. to the first tee.
For decades, individuals and families called 19159 8th Ave. “home.” But today, a real estate agent calls it “definitely the worst piece of real estate I have listed in a long time.”
“I think the best thing would be for the city to turn it into the park, restore it to its natural state,” Ruth deMille of Coldwell Banker Bain said July 22. “Something like that would be beautiful.”
Turns out, building the house so close to Dogfish Creek wasn’t such a good idea. The channel is narrow on the property, and Mayor Becky Erickson said the creek “deltas” there; the house’s basement and the adjacent city public works yard regularly flood during high-water winter months. The house couldn’t be built that close to Dogfish Creek today; the city’s critical areas ordinance requires a 200-foot setback.
And then, at some point, someone turned the house into a duplex without obtaining the proper permits.
Putting a positive spin on the house has been tough for a real estate pro like deMille, who said she sells 25-30 listings a year.
“Right smack in the heart of Poulsbo, this is a very special home!” she wrote in the listing description. Nice start. Then … “Currently an illegal duplex …” Photos of the house can’t hide the water in the basement.
DeMille writes in her description, “… with proper restoration this house could SHINE.” But in an interview with the Herald, she acknowledges that restoration work might require additional review —- by the state and the Suquamish Tribe -— because Dogfish Creek is a salmon-bearing stream, and the state’s fisheries are co-managed by state and tribal governments.
DeMille said many potential buyers “have gone down to the city and asked, ‘What can we do?’ And they run away. I can’t sell it. I’ve sold 200 of these over the years, and I can’t make this go away.”
Today, the 1,507-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home, with 1,045-square-foot basement, on .35 acre, is listed at $99,000. It’s also being offered on an online auction site.
The assessed value of the house peaked at $293,620 in 2008, according to Kitsap County Assessor’s online records. The house is currently assessed at $110,400, its value of 13 years ago.
The house’s last owner bought it for $171,319 in March 2013; the assessed value then was $152,230. The house was previously sold in July 2002 for $169,000; its assessed value was $119,520.
Today, the property is a repo, held by Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, aka Freddie Mac.
Can the house again be a home? Well, according to deMille, there’s lead-based paint in the house and the house needs a new roof. Removing peeling paint and re-roofing with a salmon stream just feet away presents some challenges.
“The basement has taken on large amounts of water, and [previous owners] have elevated items in basement, like the washer and dryer. I’m thinking you could install a sump pump, but with the lay of the land, I don’t know where you’d pump the water.”
The house has been on the city’s radar for a while. Two years ago, Barry Loveless, at the time the city’s public works director, said the city was interested in buying the property to remove the house and do stream restoration there.
Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson said July 23 city officials had been talking about the house “this last week.” If the city could purchase the property, it could remove the culvert under 8th Avenue — listed as the most problematic culvert in the city — and “open it up.” That work, as well as stream restoration work on the property, would improve stream flow.
The city backed off after dealing with a previous owner. The city was installing sandbags along a portion of the creek’s bank to keep high water from overflowing to the house, but the owner called City Hall and ordered the city to get off of his property. (The state installed the sandbags on the property now.)
Early recorded history, as well as gravel on the property, tell of stream activity on the site.
Judy Driscoll of the Poulsbo Historical Society and Museum went through records and learned this about the property:
“On the 1909 plat map, that property on 8th is owned by Tom Halvorson. There is a house there at that time and he is also listed as the owner on the 1933 plat map,” she wrote.
In 1910, Halverson applied to the city for a gravel pit on his property “and in the subsequent years [he sold] a lot of gravel to the city and was also working on the city streets,” Driscoll wrote.
“Now, I’m wondering if that is how the flat area where public works is located was developed. It would certainly make sense that his gravel could have been mined out of that spot and with a creek running through there, gravel would have been plentiful.”
Halvorson died in 1932 at about 72 years of age, Driscoll wrote.
The house at 19159 8th Ave. would be south of the Malme farm, site of today’s Poulsbo Village, in this photograph. While the house is not visible in this photo, the image provides a sense of the rural setting of the 8th Avenue area at the time. Photo: Poulsbo Historical Society