By Stacee Sledge
Whatcom Magazine, October 2008
At 104, this Eldridge
home reveals new charms
Hart and Denise Hodges purchased a part of Bellingham
history, the Hamilton House on Eldridge Avenue. Perched
high above Bellingham Bay, the home was built 100 years
earlier for businessman T.S. Hamilton. He also built
downtown's triangle-shaped Hamilton Building to house
his successful furniture company. It was known as
Bellingham's first skyscraper...all six stories of it.
Hamilton's home was constructed in what the couple
believe is Richardsonian Shingle style, which shares
elements of Victorian and Craftsman architecture.
Approaching the charming entry porch, complete with
plaque reading "Hamilton Home built 1904" below one of
two leaded glass windows the hug the red front door, it
feels quite private, even on the somewhat busy street.
Tall well-manicured hedges shield the house from passing
Today, after extensive remodeling by the Hodges, its
façade is a deep navy blue with white trim and stone
detailing that used to be hidden under fake brick and
aluminum siding from a previous owner’s modernizing
ago, Hart and Denise, both in their 40s, hired Domistyle
Design’s Jan Hayes and A-1 Builders to create a new
water-facing dormer on the second floor. But most of the
transformation of this remarkable beauty has been at
The Hodges are seasoned remodelers. Having taken on
two renovations in
Ore., two in
Anchorage, Alaska., and another just down the street
from their current historic home, they both know their
way around a hammer and level.
Hart started work in January 2004 while A-1 Builders
completed its construction during the spring. Aside from
hiring Hulford Electric and Favinger Plumbing, a few
moonlighters to help hang sheetrock, and one person to
help finish it, the rest was up to the Hodges. “We moved
in early August 2004 and are still working,” says Hart.
The couple wanted to maintain the historic feel of the
spectacular home. “In the front rooms we just took down
the plaster and painted,” says Denise. “We also took up
the carpet and refinished the floors.”
Substantial white trim and moldings line the walls
throughout the two-story home. “Some moldings are old
and have been moved,” says Denise. “Others are new.” The
couple respected the bones of the home and worked hard
to make their changes and additions seamless.
Denise, an ophthalmologist, has a strong eye for
color, evident as you walk in to a large square foyer
that offers glimpses into the piano room, living room
and dining room, all washed in deep jewel tones.
Original pocket doors can close off these areas, as well
as the connecting hallway, which runs the width of the
house past a guest bedroom, office, half-bath and
laundry room, ending in a cozy family room off the
The kitchen and great room needed the biggest makeover
on the ground floor. The new galley kitchen is a far cry
from the cramped original. Gone are the brick
countertops, replaced with sleek granite. A new bank of
window panes — replacing just one small window — lets in
light and glorious bay views.
Open at one end of the kitchen is a new family room,
formerly a closed-off bedroom, which shares the
kitchen’s warm gold wall color. One wall features
built-in bookshelves below the window, flanking a
fireplace surrounded by the same earth-toned tiles from
the kitchen. The mantle is topped with a dentil-detail
On the second floor, a previously dead space at the
top of the staircase became a spacious bathroom, now
shared by the couple’s two daughters. “The hall was
seven feet wide with more than 10 feet going nowhere but
to a window. It was enough space for a nice bathroom,”
says Hart. He learned that the original house didn’t
have plumbing upstairs.
The new bay-facing dormer also meant a third upstairs
bedroom for daughter Mia,
11. Its slanted ceiling and porthole window add
charm to the new space.
Beyond shag carpet
The one room in the house that didn’t see major change
Cam, 6. “That
was the one room we did precious little in,” says Hart.
“I changed the window and we had to skim it because the
plaster was so cracked. But that was it.”
The upstairs master bedroom also underwent a dramatic
metamorphosis. Before the Hodges worked their magic, a
large tub rested on a shag carpet-covered platform
overlooking the bay view in a turret. Now it’s a
comfortable, stylish seating and media space just steps
from the couple’s sleeping space.
Many serial remodelers complete a project and
immediately set sights on the next diamond in the rough.
Are Hart and Denise already thinking of their next
“I’d move on,” says Hart without hesitation.
Denise jumps to correct him, and they both laugh:
“We’re here for a little bit,” she says.
Whether this talented restoration team takes off in
two years or 10, they’ve added to the history of the
home in ways that will be appreciated for generations to
Stacee Sledge is a
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