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The Gables

Medina's First Mansion

Article by Meili Cady

Photography by Kara Mercer

Originally published in Bellevue Lifestyle

The sleepy Eastside city of Medina has all the ingredients of an idyllic American small town. 

It’s almost entirely residential — notably devoid of nearly anything but private homes, a post office and a single store. The scenery is lush and green, filled with freshly trimmed grass and carefully clipped landscaping. Most of the homes have open driveways, unshielded by gates, and neighbors strolling by can exchange familiar greetings.

In the neighborhood surrounding Overlake Drive, a small corner grocery — affectionately called “The Green Store” by residents — has been a quick-stop mainstay for more than a century. The original building was constructed in 1908, when there was little else around but forest and farmland. 

A few hundred yards away, steeply pitched gable roofs peaked through the trees. The house — named for its striking English architecture — was Medina’s first mansion, and may have been home to some of The Green Store’s first customers.

The Gables was built in1908 and owned by Edward Webster, secretary and general manager of Independent Telephone in Seattle. Over the years the home was inhabited by a string of families and saw a series of remodels. As the mansion changed, so did the neighborhood. 

Eastside Heritage Center Board member Michael Luis wrote about the town’s rise to notoriety in his book Images of America: Medina.

“Despite its marvelous growth, Medina has successfully maintained its charm. A new generation of families arrived in the 1990s, filling classrooms and parks, and renewing Medina’s original identity: close to the big city, but a world apart.” 

A pair of Bellevue High School sweethearts married after college and moved to Europe, where they spent most of their time in London. After selling a successful business, they decided to return home to Washington. They spent a few years growing their family in a modest-sized vintage home in Medina, but when they discovered they were expecting a fourth son, they knew they’d need more room. 

“We wanted a house that could accommodate a bunch of boys so they could hang out here,” the homeowner says.

She says they craved the character of the antiquated, “clunky” homes they’d known in the English countryside. The Gables had character pouring out of every century-old crevice. Merlot-colored wallpaper with farmhouse prints covered every inch of wall in the then 1,000 square foot kitchen. Original radiator heaters were still keeping the home warm, and antique bathtubs and sinks were in working condition.

At first, they thought they only needed to redecorate. But, a year into living there, they realized there was more work to do than they’d ever imagined. There were areas of the house with no recessed or overhead lighting at all, creating gloomy patches of darkness. The gigantic, gorgeous kitchen — a major selling point in the listing — made simple cooking feel like relay training: “If I’d try to make macaroni and cheese, I’d be running around breaking a sweat.” And something “just felt off” about the layout when they’d come home. 

The homeowners reached out to renowned interior designer Rocky Rochon.

“I had read about him. I read an interview where he was asked, ‘If you have something old in a home, do you tear down and start over?’ He said, ‘Oh, I always want to work with the old.’ So, I called him.”

True to his word, Rocky made every effort to keep what worked and to reimagine what didn’t. 

A downstairs “fruit room” from the original layout turned into a wine cellar — technically still a fruit room, heavy on grapes.

A grand fireplace remains in the family room with little change beyond a fresh coat of paint.

Major structural changes included moving the front door and dropping the staircase to create a formal entryway, downsizing the kitchen, adding a library and mudroom, and creating a corridor as a shortcut through the maze of rooms. 

Details throughout the home show a thread of British influence — a subtle nod to the couple’s time abroad. 

The family says the renovation made them feel like they’d done right by the house, celebrating its bones rather than burying them with something unrecognizable.

“It’s interesting because there is so much new, so much that’s being created… It had the feeling of something that had been around for a long time, and there was something very comforting about that.”

The Gables home epitomizes what makes Medina more valuable than just the sticker price on real estate. It was built on a historical foundation, and through the generations, what is most precious has been preserved.

Possible captions/call-outs:

[Anywhere: Designer Rocky Rochon describes the design concept as “English men’s club meets Seattle farm home” and used “earthy, rich colors with a range of textures from sand to metallic.”]
[Possible caption for dining room photo: The dining room was designed to double as a board room. The owners say many memorable moments have been shared at the imposing steel table as their business and family has grown.]


1908: Construction on The Gables is completed. 
1910: The “Green Store” opens.
1955: The City of Medina is incorporated. 
2005: The Gables’ current homeowners move in.
2007: Designer Rocky Rochon oversees a remodel of the home.
2020: Medina celebrates its 65th anniversary since incorporation.