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New face for historic Friday Harbor home
By Scott Rasmussen, Journal Editor
The blood, the sweat, they’re now more like distant memories. But the tears, they’re never far from the surface.
Jenny Prescott fought back a well of emotion recalling how the hours turned into months, and months turned years, as she and friends, and family, painstakingly dismantled, renovated and finally restored the 1913 Roark House on Argyle Avenue to somewhere very near the charm and integrity that the Craftsman-style bungalow once had in its heyday.
But in the end, it was a labor of love.
“I fell in love with this house,” Prescott said. “And because of it I’ve found out so much more about the history of Friday Harbor. And now I’m part of it.”
The efforts of Prescott, owner of Acanthus Antiques, and company, like mother Barbara and brother Brian, have not gone unnoticed. She was honored by the Town of Friday Harbor as the 2013 recipient of the “Partners in Preservation” award, May 8, on the front steps of the restored bungalow at 460 Argyle Avenue. David Harsh, chairman of the town Preservation Review Board, which presented the award, noted because of the efforts and the attention to detail by Prescott that the group gathered for the presentation was able to celebrate “a story of success.”
The San Juan County Land Bank was also honored with a Preservation Partnership award for its contribution in setting and maintaining standards for the Roark House’s restoration. The Land Bank placed a preservation easement on the house when it purchased the property on 460 Argyle Avenue from the Schoonover family in 2002.
That easement protects significant architectural features that identify the Craftsman style design of the house, such as the exterior plan, living and dining rooms and their woodwork, and the lattice screen and trellis on the house’s south side.
Prescott and the Land Bank are the 16th and 17th recipients of the town’s Partners in Preservation award.
Built by L.B. Carter, founder of the former Blue Front dry goods, as a wedding present for daughter Lettie, the Argyle Avenue house became known as the Roark house, named for Billy Roark, who worked for Carter and married Lettie in 1921, several years after her first husband, George Nicholson, died during the flu epidemic of 1918-1920.
The Roark House has been home to several prominent Friday Harbor families, including former town mayor and town councilman Jim Cahail, and wife Mary Jean, former San Juan County court clerk. The Cahail’s purchased the 460 Argyle Avenue home in 1965 and lived there for more than 30 years.
The history that the home embodies is one of the things Prescott loves the most.
“I get all these strands of history from everyone who comes in,” she said. “So many people seem to have some connection to this place.”