Painting project gets a boost
With home ownership comes the constant need to improve and protect the investment.
The Meeker Mansion, located at 312 Spring Street in Puyallup, is no different. The 17-room mansion was completed in 1890, and Ezra Meeker and his wife lived in the building for 20 years. Following Mrs. Meeker’s death in 1909, Ezra moved out and the mansion was used as a hospital, later a retirement home, and most recently as a critical care nursing home before the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion received the home as donation in 1970.
Since 1970, the historical society has worked diligently to restore the home to its condition in 1891, the year after the Meekers completed it. This proves to be challenging act for volunteers, as the organization has no records of what the home used to look like, except for three letters Meeker wrote describing it. As part of the restorative and protective process comes the need to maintain the home. The latest maintenance project the organization is starting involves repainting the entire exterior of the building.
Walking around the exterior, exposed wood and chipped paint line the ornate Victorian architecture, which could mean potential damage to the inside of the home, if not repainted soon.
“Every so often, like it or not, you have to paint the outside of the house,” said Bob Minnich, Meeker Mansion and Puyallup Historical Society president. “It doesn’t matter how much work you do inside, if you don’t protect it with a good roof and keep the paint in good shape, you’re going to risk losing all of that.”
With the Meeker Mansion coated in lead paint, the painting project costs add up quickly. In order to reduce financial impact to the organization, the society launched a campaign to help raise money for the project. The last time the building was painted in 1994, the project had a price tag of $16,000. Nearly 20 years later, that amount has increased substantially in order to comply with lead paint laws.
With passage of time and increases of salaries, the society estimated the cost of the project to be around $21,000, Minnich said.
“When we got bids (in cooperation) with the new (lead paint) law, the high bid was $135,000,” he said. “What they interpreted the law to mean is completely encasing the house in metal scaffolding and drape plastic over that so no dust could leave the house. We think that was an extreme interpretation of the law.”
While the initial bid was on the high side of the abatement spectrum, the society has adjusted its budget estimate to run between $50,000 and $60,000.
“We’re at the point now that we have to paint the house; we can’t put it off any longer,” Minnich said. “We may be forced to paint the house a portion at the time, but it may be more economical to paint the whole house at one time. It depends how successful we are at fundraising. We’ve got to do it, and it’s going to be expensive.”
An account is currently set up for donations, and donations already total about $7,000. As money is collected during the fundraising campaign, it will go toward painting the house. Minnich is hopeful that if more money is raised, the organization can set out to find a matching grant.
While the project is expensive, the payoff is protecting one of Puyallup’s best assets for generations to come.
“This is the finest thing in Puyallup,” he said. “It deserves restoration and protection.”
How you can help: The historical society has established a special fund where all monies received for the purpose will be deposited.
To make a donation via postal mail, please send a check to the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion, PO Box 103, Puyallup, WA 98371. Please make a notation, House Painting, on the memo line.
To make a donation online, click here.
By Heather Derosa
Staff writer / February 25, 2015
This article was originally printed in the Puyallup Herald.