Family feud erupts over historic registry listing of Captain’s House

The Captain’s House has become the site of a family feud, and some confusion.

The landmark Bainbridge Island property was recently blocked from being added to the city’s historic register, despite the wishes of the home’s current owner, islander Meg Hagemann.

Local historian Jerry Elfendahl nominated the home to be added to the city’s register of historic island sites. The home’s owner of 37 years, Hagemann, had recently moved out of the house and it has been placed on the market.

The property was once the home of George Franks, who ran some of the first ferry lines between the island and Seattle, beginning in 1903. For the past few decades it has been known as a Winslow-area bed-and-breakfast.

Hagemann was excited about the home’s inclusion on the registry and was present on June 7 when the Historic Preservation Commission met to vote on the matter.

“In the meeting Meg was very, very adamant that she wanted it on the register,” said Dave Williams, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission.

However, it seems that Hagemann’s family is not as excited as she is.

The city received two letters prior to the commission’s meeting; one from Hagemann’s two sons, and another from her brother, who holds power of attorney. Both letter’s asked that the house not be included on the registry with the concern that the designation would harm the home’s market value.

Williams said that the registry doesn’t affect a site’s value. If anything, it can get homeowners’ discounts at local stores on supplies to keep up a home, he said. And should the property owners decide they are no longer in favor of the designation, all they have to do is pick up the phone and tell the city to remove the label.

“It’s an honorary designation, and in defense of the family members, I don’t think they understand that,” Williams said. “You would think it would add to its attractiveness, but they are being pretty conservative.”

The commission voted to add the Captain’s House to the historic registry under the condition that the city attorney, Will Patton, weigh in on the matter.

“He decided that the person who has the power of attorney has the authority, and so it’s not on the register,” Williams said.

For now, the Captain’s House is not on the registry, but on the market. Many in the community have hopes that a future buyer will continue the bed-and-breakfast operation, and some worry that it might be bulldozed so something new can be built on the land.

“Our concern is that it is such a beautiful piece of property that someone might tear it down,” Williams said. “It’s a great location.”

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