106-year-old house saved from demolition


This photo was taken after all the work the Helbergs put in to restore the house.

A 106-year-old house that was just two days away from being demolished is now for sale in Sunnyside.

Jason and Ginny Helberg bought the house that sits in the 500 block of South First Street in September of 2006 but couldn't get started renovating the place until August of 2007.

The Helbergs, who own rental properties in Granger, Zillah, Irrigon and Sunnyside, found out about the house from a tree service company doing business at Sunnyside's Central Park. They went to see the place and bought it that day, saving it from being demolished.

"The house was a mess but the structure was in good shape," Jason Helberg said.

"What got me was the woodwork and the details of the moldings," his wife added.

Although the Helbergs picked up the house fairly cheap, there were still 17 years of back taxes, electric and water bills, and irrigation fees that had to be paid before the title to the house could be cleared.

There was also the order to demolish the house that had to be rescinded through the city.

By working with the City of Sunnyside's building department, the Helbergs were able to clear the title and finally got started on the project last August.

"It's an honor to be able to work on a house like this," Jason Helberg said. "This house is one of the first built in Sunnyside."

In just four short months the Helbergs reinvented the house that once was covered in gang graffiti into a five-bedroom house with a touch of history.

Helberg said he tried to keep the house as original as possible. The Helbergs replaced the siding on the house and gave it a fresh coat of paint. The plumbing and electrical work were pretty much left alone but they put in central heat and air, laid new carpet inside and put in new flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms.

The materials used were purchased locally and Helberg said without the help of Bi-Rite Lumber, Standard Paint, Cliff's Septic Tank and Ace Hardware, his job would have been a lot harder.

The house has two and a half baths and in the downstairs bathroom an original claw-foot bathtub was cleaned up and kept, giving the house an old, Victorian feel to it.

The kitchen was given a new look with granite counter tops.

"We tried to integrate the new with the old," Mrs. Helberg added.

New windows and doors were also installed.

The surrounding landscape was also cleaned up. The yard was overgrown with brush and trees had sprouted throughout the area. The Helbergs cut down most of the trees, paved the driveway and excavated the landscape.

"We actually found a sidewalk underneath all the foliage," Mr. Helberg recalled.

The Helbergs say there are a few more minor details to attend to before the house is completely restored but for the most part, the house is finished and ready to be moved into. As the Helbergs say, "It's ready to be taken to the next level."

An open house will be held this Saturday, Dec. 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Helbergs are inviting the community to stop by the house at 513 S. First Street. Mrs. Helberg said she's interested in hearing from people who knew of the house before it was renovated.

The Helbergs have already had a inquiry from a party that is thinking of turning the five-bedroom house into a bed and breakfast.



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