Home, sweet, depot: Train station pad yours for $1.2 million

SNOHOMISH — Bruce and Marie Ferguson went off the rails building this house.

What’s up with that?

They live in a full-size train station replica. And it can be yours for $1.2 million.

After 12 years, the Fergusons are ready to move from their home depot at 1021 Maple Ave., about a mile from downtown Snohomish. Look for the sale sign in front that says “Depot.”

The Snohomish North Depot, as they call it, sits by tracks with a speeder car, train signal light, water tower and “hobo camp” with a fire pit.

“We wanted the curiosity factor,” Marie said.

They got it.

“People walk up here and say, ‘What is this place?’” Bruce said.

“You can’t believe the people who stop and think it’s a museum,” Marie said. “They come in while we’re eating dinner or look in the window while we are watching TV.”

Some don’t stop there.

“I came down the hallway and a woman was coming out of the bathroom zipping up her pants,” Marie said. “She said, ‘You ought to see that bathroom in there, it’s really cool.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know, I see it every week when I clean it.’”

The main floor of the 2,400-square-foot home has a warming room/living room with a drinking fountain on the wall and an office with a ticket window as well as a kitchen, laundry room and two restrooms. Upstairs are two bedrooms, a loft, full bath and walk-in attic.

Lanterns are among many railroad items in the home of Bruce and Marie Ferguson in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The 600-square-foot cedar-lined freight room used for receptions faces a gravel parking lot in the front of the home. The triangular half-acre property has a two-car garage and a railcar shop.

Next stop for the couple, both 73, is to be closer to their three grown children on Whidbey Island.

This is the sixth house they built in 49 years of marriage, pitching in with the labor. The others were “family homes, not a theme home,” said Marie, who hand cut many of the cedar boards in the freight room.

The depot is a hobby that turned into a house.

“We started collecting items,” she said.

A caboose tail light here and a collection of 380 lanterns there.

“We needed someplace to put this stuff,” Bruce said. “It’s a hobby. A live-in hobby.”

Moving into an existing depot wasn’t an option.

“They had worms and holes and dry rot,” she said. “In the ’50s and ’60s, they just wanted to get those old ugly buildings out of town.”

Bruce told her, “I think I can build one.”

They looked for property by a rail track for 10 years.

Bruce Ferguson walks down a ramp at his home in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

“What’s the point of having a depot if you’re not on a track?” she said.

The Fergusons finally found this spot by the Centennial Trail, which covers the former train tracks of the Northern Pacific Railway.

They put in their own track — 112 feet of steel rail that came from the former Snohomish switching yard.

A passenger loading platform and loading dock serves as their deck. On it is a suitcase used by Bruce’s father, Burdette Ferguson, when he played drums on a cruise ship to China with his dance band, “Ferg’s Hot Tamales,” in the 1930s while a student at what was then Washington State College, but is now Washington State University.

Bruce’s family history is planted in Snohomish. He’s kin to the founding Fergusons.

His great-grandfather is Emory Canada Ferguson, often called the “father of Snohomish” and “Old Ferg.”

In the 1850s, then a young Ferg, E.C. Ferguson left upstate New York at age 21 to find gold in California. He found Snohomish instead. He served as postmaster, mayor, realtor, saloon keeper, store proprietor and legislator.

He owned the Snohomish, Skykomish and Spokane Railway.

“The locals called it the ‘3 S.’ It ran from Snohomish, Everett, Hartford (Lake Stevens). He sold the line to the Everett and Monte Cristo Railroad in 1892,” Bruce said.

An office is set up to resemble a ticket and telegraph room in the home of Bruce and Marie Ferguson in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
An office is set up to resemble a ticket and telegraph room in the home of Bruce and Marie Ferguson in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Bruce’s grandfather started the Ferguson Cannery, later known as “Ferg’s Finer Foods,” even producing a novelty can of Puget Sound Air for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.

As for Bruce, he’s a retired Boeing machinist.

He and Marie were in the Snohomish High School Class of 1965.

“He wanted to live in a depot in high school,” she said.

“There could be some DNA from my great-grandfather because he had his own railroad,” he said.

She finally came around to the idea, decades later.

He insisted the home be period correct.

“I came home one day and there was a drinking fountain in the living room. He said, ‘That’s what they had,’” Marie said.

“I came home another day and there’s this loudspeaker up here. He said, ‘When the trains come through the conductor used it,’ I said, ‘Uh, there are no trains coming through.’

“A couple years ago he put the water tower there because you have to have a water tower if you have a depot.”

The tower stands 18 feet. It’s a water feature, of sorts.

On the tracks is a speeder inspection car used by crews to reach work sites.

The speeder car comes with the house. So does the drinking fountain and the stream of curious people.

Andrea Brown: [email protected]; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.