Mid-century modern marvel featured on Everett home tour

Wendy and Matt Poischbeg’s home is a model of mid-century modern architecture.

Their 1950 home will be one of four featured in this year’s Historic Everett Home Tour. The 2,184-square-foot house features a flat roof, floor-toceiling windows and an open floor plan. It still has its original walls and moldings, as well as exposed beams and brick.

“We love our bungalows, our foursquares and our colonials — but homes built in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, they’re becoming historic,” said Andrea Tucker, who organizes the Historic Everett Home Tour. “We want to bring attention to those homes as well.”

Through research, Wendy learned that the original owner was Mary Rygg. She married Adolph Rygg in 1937, whose family operated the Meadowmoor Dairy in Everett. She worked at the dairy, which had a shop on Hewitt Avenue where Angel of the Winds Arena is today.

Mary and Adolph had the home built on Fowler Avenue on a forested acre for about $8,700 — about $95,619 in today’s money. They raised three children there, and after their divorce in 1975, Mary lived in the home until her death in 2009. She was 93.

The house was custom-designed for the Ryggs by local architect Harold W. Hall.

“Harold Hall was an emerging or was already a major architect in Everett at that time,” Historic Everett member Jack O’Donnell said. “He was designing pretty way-cool houses. Only recently has the whole state awakened to what he designed. These houses are really popular now.”

The three-bedroom home features two wings — with the upper and lower levels served with a ramp instead of stairs. Each closet contains shelving, drawers and extra storage, as did many homes built in that era. In 1975, Mary Rygg had a sunroom built by enclosing the back patio, outdoor fireplace and all.

In 1975, a sunroom was built by enclosing the back patio. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

In 1975, a sunroom was built by enclosing the back patio. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

This is the Poischbegs’ first house. Wendy bought the home in 2010, and Matt moved in before they were married in 2015. She is the economic development manager for the city of Snohomish. He is general manager for Sea-Lect Plastics in Everett.

“I love it,” Matt Poischbeg said of the mid-century modern style. “I can’t get over how good it looks.”

The couple — Wendy is 52, Matt is 57 — have worked to renovate the home during the pandemic. They remodeled the bathroom, replaced the garage door, repainted the interior and exterior and updated the electrical and plumbing.

The Rygg house was brown when Wendy bought it. Now it’s slate gray with a burnt orange door for contrast.

The kitchen was renovated so that it feels as open as the other rooms in the house. They installed more windows, swapped cabinets for drawers and built a pantry for extra storage.

The kitchen was renovated so that it feels as open as the other rooms in the house. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The kitchen was renovated so that it feels as open as the other rooms in the house. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“It’s such a transformation because opening up the kitchen into the living room provides light,” Wendy Poischbeg said. “We have plants in there for the first time.”

Most recently, the couple expanded the master bedroom by removing built-in closets that separated two rooms.

The Poischbegs still talk to Mary’s children — Mary Ann, Bob and Larry — who mentioned that the closets were built to be removed after they moved out, but their mother never got around to it.

“Once they told us that, we were like, ‘That’s it, let’s open up the house,’” Wendy Poischbeg said. “We took out the built-ins and so now there are hardly any walls left.”

The Poischbegs still have more projects to do. Next, the couple want to replace the 1950s windows with modern energy-efficient ones, and build a screen for their washer and dryer so you can’t see the laundry.

“We didn’t want to lose the integrity of the home,” Wendy Poischbeg said. “The home now has modern touches that still pay homage to the mid-century.”

A Roy Lichtenstein mural is displayed in Wendy Poischbeg‘s home office. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A Roy Lichtenstein mural is displayed in Wendy Poischbeg‘s home office. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“All the stuff we did changed a lot of the living space, but it really didn’t destroy the character of the house,” Matt Poischbeg said. “As far as we’re concerned, it enhanced the character of the house and made it stand out even more as a mid-century modern design.”

Howard W. Hall studied under iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. With their wide, low footprints, open floor plans and emphasis on bringing the outdoors inside, Wright’s Prairie and Usonian designs inspired mid-century modern architects like Hall.

Hall designed Everett Junior College, View Ridge and Hawthorne elementary schools, the Bank of Everett (now the Cope-Gillette Theatre), the former Everett Herald office at California and Grand, and the Seattle First National Bank (now Bank of America) at Colby and Hewitt. His fi rm also designed the Safeway building in Edmonds that now houses the Cascadia Art Museum.

Hall’s own home, at 4630 Mermont Drive in Everett, was featured in the Architectural Record magazine.

A fan of “mid-mod” styles for a long time, Wendy has collected mid-century modern furniture over the years. She has a desk, sideboard buffet, lamp, Bauhaus chair, kitchenette set and more from the 1950s.

“When I met Wendy 10 years ago, I had totally different tastes,” said Matt Poischbeg, whose furniture is of the 1920s Bauhaus style from his native Germany.

“The mid-century modern style reminded me of my parents’ furniture. I thought, ‘That’s never going to be my sense of style.’”

He’s since changed his mind about mid-mod furniture: “These pieces are timeless,” he said.

Tucker praised the clean lines and simple designs of these post-World War II homes. Derided in the 1990s as bland, the style has seen a resurgence in the real estate market in recent years.

“Mid-century modern is what’s happening right now,” said Tucker, who is an Everett real estate agent. “These are great homes.”

If you go

The Historic Everett Home Tour featuring four historic homes is Sept. 18 via YouTube. Tickets are $5 for members, $10 for non-members. Video will include house histories, a tour of each home and homeowner interviews. You’ll be emailed a YouTube link with registration. Call 425-293-2767 or go to www.historiceverett.org for more information.

Washington North Coast Magazine

This article is featured in the summer issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.