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May 21, 2022

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Historic Eddings House in downtown Vancouver for sale

By , Columbian Innovation Editor
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Downtown Vancouver's historic Eddings House, built in 1885 by John Eddings, a civic and religious leader in early Clark County history, is for sale.
Downtown Vancouver's historic Eddings House, built in 1885 by John Eddings, a civic and religious leader in early Clark County history, is for sale. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Downtown Vancouver’s historic Eddings House, built in 1885 by John Eddings, a civic and religious leader in 19th century Clark County, is for sale.

Located at 700 W. Evergreen Blvd., the 3,472-square-foot house has a price of $895,000. It was renovated in 2017. The former home now is split into office spaces and can accommodate three or four tenants, according to a sales brochure. Two lawyers currently occupy the house, which is around the corner from the courthouse.

The current owners of the house, Kenneth and Colleen Hegewald, inherited part of the house’s ownership from Kenneth’s father, and the couple bought out Kenneth’s sisters. Although not related to John Eddings, Hegewald said the home has been his “labor of love” over the 12 years he’s owned it, but he’s getting older and wants to move to the Columbia River Gorge and raise cattle.

“I’ve had it a long time,” he said. “I’m getting too old to mow the lawn.”

Their real estate broker, Becky Potter of Berkshire Hathaway, said that local government officials have urged the Hegewalds to list the home on a historic register, but they didn’t want to deal with red tape.

From Ireland to Vancouver

John McNeil Eddings was born in Ireland in 1830. He landed in New York in 1841, and then moved to St. Louis shortly thereafter.

In 1851, he enlisted in the infantry, became a first sergeant, and was posted to Vancouver Barracks. On his journey west were Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Bonneville, according to the sales brochure.

In 1852, Eddings’ wife, Sarah Eddings, gave birth to a girl in an original cabin at Vancouver Barracks. A plaque in the Grant House on Officers Row commemorates the birth.

Eddings fought in the 1855-56 Rogue River Wars in the southern Oregon Territory. His daughter, Mary Nicholas, wrote that “My father was a man who loved adventure, and he found plenty in the Indian wars. My father had fiery red hair. He went to the Rogue River Indian War and when he came back his hair was snowy white. The scalping, the dead soldiers, and their lack of equipment was just too much for him.”

After leaving the infantry he worked as the military storekeeper at Vancouver Barracks for 30 years, and in 1865, Vancouver residents elected him to the city council, where he served for two years.

Near the end of the term, he was appointed to the Committee for Cemetery Improvements, putting a picket fence around the Old City Cemetery at Grand and Mill Plain. In September 1866, he organized a volunteer fire department, the first in Vancouver. In July 1875, during Grant’s presidency, Eddings was appointed Vancouver postmaster, serving the next 11 years in addition to his other military and civil duties, according to the home’s sales brochure.

The family was an advocate and supporter of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, at 426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Former President Grant visited Eddings in 1879, before the home was built.

Eddings died in 1896, prompting the 14th Infantry Band to lead a procession nearly a half of a mile with carriages, relatives and friends, according to the brochure.

As was common practice in the day, his body was placed in an open casket in the house, where for about a week, visitors could pay their respects before he was buried in the Old City Cemetery.

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