Home & Garden

Wapato's Sawyer House turns 100

WAPATO — A Wapato landmark, Sawyer House, turns 100 this year. To celebrate, owners Fred and Pat Erickson are inviting the public for two days of tours.

The Sawyer House Home Tour and Garden Fair will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 15-16.

"Antiques and historic houses have always been an interest of ours," she said. "And with Sawyer House turning 100, this is a good window to draw attention to historic preservation."

It was built in 1910 by William Perry Sawyer, an orchardist and visionary who settled in the Yakima Valley 12 miles outside Yakima. He recognized the area's potential and persuaded both the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific railroads to run their lines through the Lower Valley. He and his neighbors formed one of the area's first irrigation projects and he planted its first Bartlett pears.

Sawyer built a 10,000-square-foot house to match his visions, with three stories and a full basement. There are 11 bedrooms, but only two bathrooms. Nine doors lead outside, and the house has both a laundry chute and a dumb-waiter.

It was opulent for the time and location, but as Sawyer told contemporaries: "Being so far from town, my home has to serve me as my office, my theater and my church; because a man is a rancher, is that any reason why he should not have things as good and as comfortable as a man who lives in the city?"

The Ericksons bought Sawyer House from William Perry Sawyer's youngest daughter in 1969.

"I've been interested in antiques from the time I was 5 years old riding the street cars in Portland with my grandmom. I always loved looking at the old painted ladies (Portland's Victorian and Edwardian houses). I always wanted to live in an old house," she said.

The house was structurally sound but needed some TLC.

Over the past 41 years, the Ericksons have lovingly and carefully made repairs and improvements.

"We've not changed the structure. We've stayed close to the architect's original intent," she said. "We've replicated doors and moldings where necessary and had the only original kitchen cabinet copied so now they all look the same."

Originally the house was heated with wood. The Ericksons have added central heat, "but it's like heating a sieve. It's cold in the winter, but we love it here," she said.

The house has been open for tours only once before, in 1976. It was only partially restored then, but the Ericksons have been busy.

They've installed hardwood floors throughout, built a poolhouse that's a miniature of the main house, repaired a porch, laid stone walkways and developed landscaping around the 10-acre grounds. Some of the original fruit trees, including the Bartlett pears, remain.

They've furnished the house with a mixture of American and English antiques and added period light fixtures.

On March 30, the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation presented the Ericksons with an award of outstanding achievement in historic preservation for their restoration work.

In addition to opening their home to the public, the Ericksons have organized a garden fair, with vendors offering food, beverages, arts and crafts.

"Last time we offered tours, people waited a long time to get into the house. We wanted to give them something fun to do," she said.

The Ericksons' business, Country Garden Antiques, located on the grounds in the original carriage house, will also be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

Cost is $20 for the tour and fair. Add an additional $12 if you plan to attend the luncheon Saturday or Sunday. The address of Sawyer House is 6451 Yakima Valley Highway, Wapato.

Make checks payable to Country Garden Antiques and mail them to P.O. Box 909, Prosser, WA 99350. Or purchase on-line at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/106374. Tickets will be held at will call.

For more information, go to www.countrygardenantiques.com.