It might look haunted from the outside, but the rundown two-story home at Main and Ash in Peaceful Valley is really a piece of Spokane history.
The house was completed in 1892 by Franz Pietsch, a German immigrant who came to Spokane after the great fire of 1889 because his masonry skills were in demand.
For the past 36 years, the house has stood vacant. It was held in the unsettled estate of a Pietsch family member who died in 1961.
Now, Pietsch’s great-grandson, Micky McGuire of Seattle, the executor of the estate, is trying to sell the house.
To increase its marketability, the family recently won approval from the City Council to put the Pietsch house on the Spokane Register of Historic Places.
“That’s an incredible building,” said McGuire.”It’s a shame we have to sell it now.”
Asking price for the house is $89,000. With one-foot-thick brick walls and a stone foundation, it was built in an Italianate style rarely seen in Spokane.
The house now is a shell of its rich past.
All of the glass in the windows is gone, and the interior is partly in shambles. The lower level openings have been boarded with plywood to keep vagrants and vandals out.
There is no yard - just a 100-by-100-foot lot without landscaping.
However, the family last year had a new roof put on the house, repaired the porch, and did some preliminary work for renovation.
McGuire said one estimate puts remaining renovation costs at $38,000.
Valerie Neilson, the real estate agent for the sale, said some callers are considering the building as a possible office, while others want to bring the structure back as a home.
The historical listing will allow the future owner the opportunity to get a tax break for an approved renovation.
Under the rules of the local historical preservation program, owners can get their property tax assessments lowered by the amount they spend on renovation for a period of 10 years. That translates into substantial tax savings, Neilson said.
Because the house is on the historic register, the future owner cannot change its exterior, and renovation plans, to be eligible for a tax break, must be approved to maintain the house’s historical character, preservation officials said.
“The workmanship in this home is incredible,” Neilson said.
Franz Pietsch was known in Spokane for his masonry work on many buildings, including the old Great Northern Railroad Station, from which the Clocktower still stands in Riverfront Park, as well as the Davenport Hotel and the state hospital in Medical Lake.
He and his family were also farmers, and they raised produce on their property to sell locally.
“Peaceful Valley residents remember fruit orchards and bee hives tended by Franz,” according to the historic nomination form.
“The Pietsch house remains a unique neighborhood focal point and landmark attesting to the working-class immigrants who settled in Peaceful Valley and helped build Spokane,” the nomination said.