September 19, 2009 in City

Historic N. Side home gets preservation nod

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

The Muzzy mansion was built in 1889 by homesteader Hiram Muzzy. The Landmarks Commission has recommended it be placed on the historic register listings.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Mike Schultz and Steven Sanford were looking for income-producing rental property when they stumbled across a huge brick-and-granite mansion for sale on the North Side a few years ago.

They weren’t into historic preservation, and they didn’t have a clue about the rich story behind the property at 1506 W. Mission Ave. The house had been divided into five apartments, which was the feature that caused them to stop and look in the first place.

The home’s stunning interior was encased behind partition walls. Even so, the 1889 Queen Anne Victorian “sang to us like a symphony” when they crossed the threshold, Schultz said.

Nearly three years later, much of the grandeur has been brought back to life.

On Wednesday, the Spokane City-County Landmarks Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council that the home be placed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places.

It was not a hard decision, the commissioners said.

The house arose from the frontier fortunes of homesteader Hiram Newton Muzzy. He had come to Spokane in 1880 and settled on 160 acres north and west of what today is Mission Avenue and Cedar Street. He planted a huge orchard, grew vegetables and cut timber.

The Northern Pacific Railway arrived in 1881, opening Spokane to westward migration. By the time Muzzy obtained his homestead patent from President Grover Cleveland in 1888, the area was ripe for development. He platted Muzzy’s Addition that same year, and built his mansion the following year, presumably with money earned from the plat of more than 500 lots.

It was the “perfect storm of opportunity,” Schultz said.

Muzzy’s fortune was short-lived. The Panic of 1893 wiped him out, and he was forced to move to a smaller home in 1895. Eventually he moved to Portland, where he died in 1908.

“He lost it almost as fast as he got it,” Schultz said of Muzzy’s wealth.

In 1903, Patrick and Mary Shine moved in to continue the home’s legacy of prominence. Shine was born in Ireland and became an important attorney and political figure in Spokane, and was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1928. He was Spokane city treasurer, and served as a commissioner and consular agent to three Canadian provinces. He sought appointment as minister to the Irish Free State, and was nominated, but never appointed before his death in 1934.

Apartments were added to the home in later years.

Schultz and Sanford began extensive interior restoration in 2007 after moving in. They removed walls and rebuilt an elegant oak staircase. They restored the upstairs landing and hired a craftsman to re-create the banisters. They uncovered and restored the original front door that had been nailed over when the apartments were made.

They built a new kitchen with period cabinetry, and installed a modern bath upstairs.

For months, they said they felt like nomads as the restoration pushed them from room to room.

They’ve kept costs down to $50,000 by searching for used or low-cost materials and doing most of the work themselves. “We are totally HGTV kind of people,” Sanford said.

Schultz said their work has been fueled by a sense of responsibility to preserve what’s being called the “Muzzy-Shine House” in the historic listing process. They said that after they obtain a local listing, they plan to continue the process with state and national register listings.

“This seemed to be destiny calling us,” Schultz said.

“We are trying to rescue something that could have been long forgotten,” Sanford said.


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