The story of this Everett lumber baron’s imposing home at 2320 Rucker Avenue actually begins with the American Revolution. As you may recall – the Americans won! Therefore, if you happened to be a British soldier like George Hartley, you needed to either get on a boat back to England, or more likely you’d hightail it up into Canada, where you could get a tract of land from the English Crown. In the case of George, there was little choice – he went to Canada.
Fast forward five generations, and we see Roland Hartley, born into a family of seven children, living on a rock-strewn landscape in New Brunswick with a very strict farmer/minister father. Family lore has it that one day one of Roland’s brothers ‘had it out’ with his father and left the family home with the shirt on his back. He traveled across Canada and crossed the border into America in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, where he found work with the Clough lumber company. Not long afterward, other members of the family left home and immigrated to the same area.
Somehow, with very minimal formal education, Roland Hartley managed to serve in different capacities with Minnesota Governor David Clough’s logging and lumbering operations during the winter, and in farming operations during the summer months.
Fortunately, Roland had a talent for politics and eventually grew close to the Clough family. So close, in fact, that he married Governor David Clough’s daughter, Nina.
As it turned out, the railroad for which the Clough logging operations had provided railroad ties became the Great Northern Railroad, owned by J. J. Hill. The pivotal point for the Clough and Hartley families was that this railroad needed what is called “back haul” for the railroad terminus in Everett.
He preferred to work with David Clough, but this was during the Panic of 1893, and neither Clough nor others around him had any money. But with a $100,000,000 line of credit, David Clough, with Roland Hartley, found that they could win the ownership of the new logging and lumber mill operations in Everett, IF they put the legal ownership into the hands of a trusted “straw man”, until there were better economic times. However, a legal battle later ensued, following which the “straw man” won the ownership of the sawmill. But by this time, the Cloughs and the Hartleys were well known and working to get funds together to build the “Clough Hartley Cedar Siding and Shake Mill” on the Everett waterfront; which, for a time, became the largest cedar siding and shake mill in the world.
About this time, the Clough-Hartley operation logged the Tulalip Indian Reservation and profits of this operation paid to build the Hartley Mansion. In 1910, the year it was completed, Hartley became Mayor of Everett, and following that, a State Representative. By this time, Roland Hartley was a wealthy and powerful individual in Everett and the Northwest Washington area. He’d come a long way from his humble origins in Canada.
Yet he wanted to contribute something to America, so he went east and signed up to fight for America in WWI. Fortunately, before he could ship out, the war ended and he managed to become elected Governor of the State of Washington – a two term Governor to boot!
While Governor, his interests were not tied as closely to his logging and lumbering origins. When the Great Depression struck, he either had to put a large investment into his aging lumber industry or close it, which was his choice. Although Hartley and his wife lived out the rest of their days in the Hartley Mansion, upon their passing the family sold the place. It was subsequently converted into a nursing home – and then another.
As luck would have it, Dr. Sanford Wright Jr.’s neurosurgery practice, located in the downtown Everett Medical Dental Building, was just beginning to flourish, so he bought
the very run-down Hartley Mansion. With the help of his father, Sanford Wright Sr., a retired general building contractor, and Newland Construction, many wonderful renovations took place, always enhancing and preserving the historical nature of this structure. Over a period of time, additional renovations took place that established the third floor as an elegant place for meetings and concerts.
As time passed, through the leadership of Dr. Wright and his steadfast, long-time practice and business manager, Patti Larson, a partnership grew between the Historic Hartley Mansion‘s neurosurgical practice and local community service. This partnership was enhanced by the creation of “The Dorothy Jayne Foundation”, named after Dr. Wright’s mother, Dorothy Jayne Wright, who was a longtime dance teacher, artist and arts supporter in the community.
Although the Hartley Mansion was built by a staunch Republican, Governor Roland Hartley, it has hosted Democratic gatherings, including fundraisers for our present Governor Jay Inslee, Mayor Ray Stephanson and others.
Many prominent performing artist’s music has reverberated throughout the Hartley Mansion. Piano recitals in the Hartley Mansion have included students of Judy Baker, Allan Park and other wonderful teachers.
Since Dr. Wright became the first president of The Everett Performing Arts Board 16 years ago, he has worked with other board members to create a Christmas show, highlighting the importance of supporting local food banks in the wake of 9-11. The “Christmas Spectacular” received its name from then President and Chairman of the Cascade Bank, Frank McCord. At this time, a partnership with the Volunteers of America Food Bank was facilitated by then legendary CEO Gil Saparto.
After stepping down from the Everett Performing Arts Board, Dr. Wright elected to continue to produce and direct the “Christmas Spectacular”. (See www.thechristmasspectacular website for details).
Dr. Wright and Patti Larson encourage you to appreciate and enjoy this landmark residence and its historical importance in the Everett Community. We also recognize the personal achievement of its builder, Roland Hartley, who joined others – Republicans and Democrats alike – to support the westward movement of America into the Pacific Northwest.
As you tour the building, you will find a photo of the Hartley family in Canada, and Roland Hartley’s U.S. citizenship papers in the dining room.
We hope you have a great time here!
Sanford Wright M.D. – Patti Larson