Though she’d worked for the city of Kent for 20 years, Lesli Mataya, 52, has always had a fondness for Enumclaw, a small town of about 11,000 in the south end of King County.
Her mother’s family had grown up in Enumclaw, and the community had always felt like home to her. She was eager to return there after living in Maple Valley for years.
“It was everything I wanted. It was worth the additional 15 minutes of commute time,” says Mataya. “I feel safe here.”
Sometimes called The Plateau, the land on which Enumclaw sits was formed by a volcanic mudflow from Mount Rainier more than 5,700 years ago.
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The Plateau itself is flat, creating large expanses of land ideal for crop farming and dairy farms.
The town has an open feel to it, as lots within the Enumclaw city limits are larger than standard city lots, as are those along the outskirts, like the one where Lesli and her husband, Terry, live in the Y Bar S Ranchettes development.
Home prices in Enumclaw are generally more affordable than in closer-in areas of King County.
The median value of all single-family houses (not just those recently sold) in Enumclaw was $266,100 in January, up 1.8 percent year-over-year and up 0.3 percent month-over-month, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
The median value of all condos in Enumclaw was $159,000, down 4.7 percent over the past year, but up 0.3 percent month-over-month, according to Seattle-based Zillow.
The median rent for houses in Enumclaw was $1,592 in January, up 2.7 percent year-over-year, while for apartments it was $1,179, up 3.3 percent over the past year, according to the Zillow Rent Index.
Mataya bought her home on 1.25 acres 10 years ago from a family friend. As sometimes happens when purchasing from a friend, there was a catch with this particular home.
This quaint, two-story, brick Cape Cod-style home featured a sleek, black baby-grand piano in its formal living room. Nearly impossible to move, the piano stayed with the house, becoming the focal point and a frequent topic of conversation in the Matayas’ home.
“I always hoped to take lessons, but I haven’t yet and the piano is still here,” Lesli says, with an infectious laugh.
Terry Mataya, 65, loves the home for its sweeping views of Mount Rainier, majestically present on a clear day from his home office, the front porch, the living room or the south-facing upstairs bedrooms.
Terry is an avid mountain climber, so the view from his home is constant reinforcement of the mountain’s power to entrance.
“It’s wonderful to see Mount Rainier every day, in all of her different moods,” Terry says. “She never presents the same face.”
So in love with their home, Lesli and Terry were married in their yard in September 2007, inviting close friends, family and a few neighbors over for the celebration.
Finally seeing the mountain from the Matayas’ perspective, the couple’s next-door neighbor gave Lesli and Terry an unexpected wedding present. With a few swipes of his chain saw, the neighbor hacked down a towering tree that had blocked the Matayas’ view of Mount Rainier.
“It was a ‘Christmas Vacation’ moment!” Lesli remembers fondly.
Landmarks and parks
As Lesli now drives through the streets of Enumclaw — among the well-cared-for older homes, a sprinkling of attractive newer homes, and meticulously groomed lawns — she points out familiar landmarks, including a home that was once a church, historic homes with colonial-style porches, neighborhood churches like Trinity Lutheran Church, the Plateau Museum, iconic outdoor sculptures like Logging Legacy, and a locally owned library.
Enumclaw also offers residents a satellite campus of Green River Community College, the relatively new St. Elizabeth Hospital, unique public art and murals throughout downtown, and a surprisingly successful retail district with such locally owned shops as Bridget’s and CC’s Collectibles and restaurants such as the Rainier Bar and Grill and Rendezvous Wine and Brew.
For those who yearn for outdoor entertainment or adventure, Green River Gorge and the White River Amphitheatre are a short drive away, giving residents dozens of recreational options, all with Mount Rainier as their backdrop.
Enumclaw also boasts a number of city, county and state parks in or near the city.
Walk Score, a Seattle company that provides automated walkability ratings, considers much of Enumclaw “very walkable” and, for example, gave the Montgomery Park area a score of 75 out of a possible 100, meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot.
For Lesli and her family, Enumclaw will always be home.
“People are friendly. I love the downtown businesses and shops,” she says. “Enumclaw has a real sense of community and pride; I just love it here.”