A new addition under construction behind Pasco’s Moore Mansion is giving the historic property a new view — of the future.
Debra and Brad Peck have spent a dozen years restoring the stately home next to the Columbia River to its full 1908 glory.
They live in the house and plow proceeds from renting out the grounds for weddings, fundraisers and corporate gatherings into a steady stream of restoration projects.
The latest goes beyond restoration. It contemplates a future when the Pecks have moved on and someone else, ideally their son or daughter, is in charge.
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The two-story, 8,000-square-foot addition is designed to support today’s thriving event business while being flexible enough to accommodate a winery or some other use in the future that will keep the mansion on a solid financial footing.
The $500,000-plus project adds a garage, meeting room and bathrooms for guests. The second story is being left unfinished, but could become living quarters for the Pecks after they retire.
Barring that, it could be converted into a boutique winery with a tasting room, barrel room and winemaker’s loft for intimate dinners.
Peck, a current Franklin County Commissioner, said his goal is to make sure the property continues to operate as an event center in some fashion in honor of the extensive community support for preserving it.
The addition will match the Beaux Arts style of the Moore Mansion in finish, fixtures and most details. It will sport decks with views to the Columbia River to the south and the event grounds to the east.
Stylistically it will be a little less ornate than the Moore Mansion, but in most respects it will be similar to it.
Brad Peck, co-owner
“Stylistically it will be a little less ornate than the Moore Mansion, but in most respects it will be similar to it,” said Peck, a retired U.S. Air Force officer and manager with Energy Northwest in Richland. He and his wife, both Eastern Washington natives, purchased the property in 2004, three years after an arson fire caused $1.4 million in damage.
The new addition replaces an old garage/guesthouse that had to be removed when the foundation failed. The old garage was not designed to support a second floor and was in danger of falling over under the added weight. The new structure overlaps with the old footprint.
Peck said excavating for the addition turned up some interesting items, though nothing archaeologically significant. Workers had to dig down about 36 inches for the new foundation, turning up 1951 Oregon license plates, 1920s vintage glass door knobs and an antique set of glass marbles.
The addition will initially include an office to meet with prospective clients, chiefly bridal parties. The restrooms will accommodate guests at special events, which can number into the hundreds. The garage will house event equipment, including tables, chairs, linens and the like.
Peck said the space is designed with flexibility in mind since he and his wife eventually retire from the day-to-day grind of projects and managing the grounds.
The Pecks moved to the Tri-Cities in 2003, renting an apartment in Richland while they contemplated their next retirement step.
They made several failed bids to buy traditional homes. But in the scorched remains of Moore Mansion, the Pecks could see a glimmer of something special. It helped, Peck said, that he grew up in a family of woodworkers and furniture restorers.
They paid $267,000 for the mansion in March 2004. Peck insists damage from the 2001 fire wasn’t as bad as is commonly thought. Still, it was in such poor condition that the Pecks were under an order to demolish the property or renovate it immediately.
$267,000 purchase price 2004
$500,000 restoration project 2016
$1.4 million estimated damage from 2001 fire
They tore into the job. In one of the more interesting finds, Peck discovered evidence of an arson attempt — a homemade torch stuffed into a wall that failed to ignite. He turned it over to police. No one was ever convicted of setting the fire.
Former owner Corey Bitton pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud in connection with the mansion but an arson charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement.
The Pecks invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to restore the mansion to its former state. In the early years, they hosted charitable events at no cost. In 2005, they began operating it as a event venue. Last year marked their 10th anniversary.
Peck said he and his wife have never taken a salary from the business, preferring to reinvest the proceeds into a building that was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The city of Pasco supported the restoration project when it declared the Moore Mansion a historic site, exempting it from most property taxes for 10 years.
The break expires in 2017, when the Pecks begin paying taxes on the full value of the property.
Moore Mansion occupies a prominent spot on the Columbia River waterfront near the blue bridge, constructed by Seattle investor James A. Moore, who apparently was fascinated with Eastern Washington irrigation and built the mansion as anchor to a model farm on the Columbia River.