When Greg Newenhof died earlier this year, Jeff Newenhof knew instantly that he needed to finish his elder brother’s dream of restoring the long-vacant Flavel home at 15th Street and Franklin Avenue.
The Newenhofs’ company, City Lumber, is partnering with the Clatsop County Historical Society to offer self-guided tours of the house on Sept. 22 to show off progress and raise money for another project to honor Greg Newenhof’s memory: a biography of the Flavel family to be written by local historian John Goodenberger.
“For me, the book fills a void,” Jeff Newenhof said. “There isn’t a definitive story on the Flavels, and John’s the guy to write it.”
Greg Newenhof acquired the Flavel home in 2015 from the estate of Mary Louise Flavel. Jeff Newenhof estimates that his brother put in thousands of hours after work and on weekends restoring the 117-year-old, four-story, Colonial Revival-style home.
By the time of his death, he had already replaced much of the home’s siding, broken windows and doors; had the roof, chimney and flooring repaired; rewired the inside; and built new steps. He planned to sell his original residence to fund the restoration and eventually move into the historical structure.
“He was about a month away from moving in,” Jeff Newenhof said.
The home is filled with intricate woodwork and other markers of the Flavels’ wealth, such as a maid’s quarters, a buzzer system for ringing the help, a multistory dumbwaiter and 3-by-10-inch old-growth fir beams spanning the entire main floor. Little markers of the family have also been left behind, such as clothes in the closet and the remnants of a trapeze swing and musical instruments in the attic.
The home was built in 1901 for Capt. George Conrad Flavel, a bar pilot and son of the famed Capt. George Flavel, one of the first licensed bar pilots in the state. Although imposing from the outside with commanding views of the Columbia River, the house is only about 5,000 square feet, roughly half the size of the Flavel House Museum on Eighth Street downtown.
“The most amazing thing to me is that they built the entire house in six months without any power tools,” Jeff Newenhof said.
He estimates it will take a couple of months per floor to finish the restoration and hopes to be complete in the next year. Much of the work will be done by contractors, with Jeff Newenhof taking on more responsibility at City Lumber since his brother’s death. When the restoration is complete, the home will go on the market.
The home will open Sept. 22 for self-guided tours of the upper three floors. The basement, filled with items left behind by the estate, will remain closed. Jeff Newenhof will be on hand to answer questions.
The tours — $10 for historical society members and $25 for nonmembers — are part of a three-day event, including a Thursday lecture by Goodenberger and a few minutes of family home videos at the Columbian Theater. On Friday, attendees can have cocktails at the home, view newly donated family videos and bid for a chance at a catered dinner at the Flavel House Museum.
The proceeds will go toward the historical society’s publishing of the definitive Flavel biography.
“Where the ultimate focus will be is still up for discussion,” Goodenberger said. “It will include the most recent generation to an extent. My lecture Thursday is a spine on which the book will be formed.”
However much money the historical society can raise through next week’s events will largely determine the size and scope of the project, said Sam Rascoe, the group’s marketing director.