Interior designer David Bettencourt Goularte has lovingly brought the home, which once housed the governor, back to its full glory.

Share story

IF A HOUSE COULD have a gender, this Colonial Revival is definitely a lady. Of a certain age (101), but a lady to be sure. Her golden exterior, with shutters the color of a lime peel, are smartly ringed in box hedges trimmed just so. There’s even a bronze plaque out front. A testament to her pedigree. When she was built, in 1914, the local newspaper called her, “one of the finest homes in the city.”

Not bad for a house that has been condemned (three times!), dragged and trucked.

“I came to Olympia for an appointment,” says homeowner (and not coincidentally, interior designer) David Bettencourt Goularte. “On the way, I saw it through the trees. I thought, ‘What an odd house for the location.’ ”

A history lesson

Read a brief history of the Egbert-Ingham House and see a photograph of the home being winched across the Capitol Way bridge in 1979 at http://bit.ly/1GcG66A

David reported his discovery to his wife, Ruthann. She told him, “David, that’s the old Egbert house. It’s been empty for years. You don’t want to go anywhere near that house.”

The next day, David got inside. He found the place intact. It was a surprise, considering that in 1979, due to expansion of our state’s Capitol campus, the house had been trucked from its original downtown site and winched across an Interstate 5 overpass because it could not hold both truck and house.

Trimmed and prim, the old Colonial Revival maintains its dignity despite a rough past. When it was built in 1914, the house was called “one of the finest homes in the city.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
Trimmed and prim, the old Colonial Revival maintains its dignity despite a rough past. When it was built in 1914, the house was called “one of the finest homes in the city.” (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

David was thrilled. His wife was horrified.

David and Ruthann Goularte have lived here 26 years now. One “severe cosmetic renovation” later.

He claims, “It was just a matter of putting things together.” And together they are, from the original cut-and-beveled windows framing the front door to walls aglow, painted and washed in “Champagne.”

“David’s big thing with older houses is keeping the integrity of the house,” says Ruthann. She is seated in the breakfast room, a sunny place ringed with windows overlooking the back garden. He is an involved member of the Olympia Historical Society. The room, meanwhile, is new. It and the front porch were thrown away in the move.

“I did not want to make the house fancier than the neighborhood,” David says, explaining why kitchen counters are linoleum, 25 years old. He did, however, seek to lighten the home, staining the original white oak floors blonde.

As a dedicated historian, David’s house tour comes with its past. There are secret compartments (no home alarm systems way back) and a separate staircase for the maid. Guided by old photographs, he pulled the wall off in their den to reveal a row of windows running across the top of the room.

Gov. Dan Evans and his wife, Nancy, lived here in 1973-74 while the governor’s mansion was being renovated: “Nancy told me that of all the government housing she had to endure, this was her favorite,” David says. In the living room, he points out the wall trim. “Dana Egbert (the house was a wedding present from her father) added that in 1924.” Ms. Egbert also was the proud owner of the first garbage disposal and dishwasher in Olympia, 1927.

David worked to lighten and brighten the home in every room. The wicker chairs lend a country-estate feel.  (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
David worked to lighten and brighten the home in every room. The wicker chairs lend a country-estate feel. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

Also, “This is the only house left in Olympia with operating shutters,” David says. “They are from 1936.”

Upstairs, the third floor, is his office. There are files packed with resources and research. “I’m trying to get one of the original chandeliers and the living-room sofa from the 1940s. I know where they are.”

David Bettencourt Goularte is an involved member of the Olympia Historical Society, but his favorite project is the one he lives in. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)
David Bettencourt Goularte is an involved member of the Olympia Historical Society, but his favorite project is the one he lives in. (Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times)

All in all, the old gal is richer for the wear. David has seen to it by knitting together what she was with what she is. Ruthann, owner of Drees, an Olympia fine-home interiors store, appreciates his passion. And he, her patience. “My wife will enjoy it more when I redo the bedroom for her,” he says.

“I’ve seen some pretty incredible houses. But I always come back here happy. I like my house best.”