Mirrormont’s Entrance: History and Controversy
Did you know that your MCA dues keep our entrance to Mirrormont looking nice? Did you know that controversy swirled around making it what it is today? The entry area is important to all of us and its appearance reflects the image of our entire community. If it looks ill kempt, it impacts our property values, neighborhood appeal, and salability,
As our face to the world, the front entrance to Mirrormont has been a source of pride and dilemma over the decades. Debates simmered over the decaying sales chalet, Mirrormont signs, parked vehicles for sale, and landscaping.
The south side of the front entry began as the site of Seaboard Realty’s sales chalet in 1962. Prospective buyers left their cars in the gravel lot while exploring lots and spec homes with realtors.
During the mid 80s, the MCA Board polled residents about acquiring the land on either side of the entry, a total of 4.5 acres containing “some of the finest evergreen trees in all of Mirrormont”, for $120,000, but there wasn’t sufficient positive response.
By the 1990s, the sales chalet had become dilapidated. King County Code Enforcement directed John Temcov of Seaboard Realty, owner of the chalet, to cover all openings and bring the building up to code by 1/17/92 or have the structure demolished. The January 1992 issue of Mirrormont Newsletter featured an article, “Save the Chalet?” All loyal Mirrormontians were urged by Temcov to favor restoration, “Set in the shadows of giant evergreens, it has architectural appeal and is part of the Story of Mirrormont. In addition to its artistic merits the chalet enhances the image of values in this Residential Paradise.”
~ From The Seattle Times 9/15/63
Developer Rod Loveless installed the original Mirrormont entrance signs, and they were refurbished in 1983. Ray Skoff repainted the entrance signs when he was MCA President in 1992. In 1996, Dennis Patera volunteered to repair and repaint the sign and completed the job the next day.
The MCA Board proposed redesigning the entrance signs in 1995, and prepared a preliminary drawing that included river rock columns supporting a “Mirrormont” sign with the traditional trees symbol. But the plan depended on a combination of financing by MCA, homeowner donations, and volunteer labor efforts—and failed to materialize.
When Miriam Culwell moved to Mirrormont in 1998 and became involved in the community, the sign’s back board was white and the lettering was dark green, made of wood and rotting. Laurel Meath and Miriam designed the new letters and had them made at Kelly Sign Company on SR 900 in Issaquah. Dave Kelly advised using material that would not rot and would hold up to the elements. Although people wanted the sign lit, supplying electricity to the spot would have been too costly both to install and maintain. Dave Kelly suggested the reflective material on the letters to make them easy to see by drivers in the dark. The back boards were painted brown, and a paper template guided installation of the new letters by Mary and Mark Frederickson and family. “Aside from a little cleaning now and then, it has held up great,” said Miriam.
During the 1980s, there was a community bulletin board near the entry for residents’ use to locate lost animals or offer items for sale. It proved both a blessing and a distraction, when outdated notices weren’t removed.
Parking lot and road:
The entrance area by the sales chalet provided room for carpool parking and emergencies such as snowstorms. But it became a struggle to keep it from being blighted by increasing number of cars, trucks, and boats for sale. Repeated appeals to avoid the used-car look failed. Many years of arguments, debates, desires, and frustrations ensued. Some folks still regret the loss of the parking lot for snowstorm parking
Before King County Roads installed the storm drain, the road was a problem because it dipped down too much and puddled and froze. And in 1991, they installed the left-hand turn lane.
After Seaboard Realty abandoned the sales chalet, it was up to volunteers to mow the grass and use gas-powered weed-cutters to keep the entry neat and clipped. Residents donated spring annuals and bedding plants—and picked up litter. The owners of the property generously allowed use of their garage faucet and hoses laid through the woods to water the plants.
As part of the 1991 Spring Clean-up Day, volunteers landscaped the front entrance. Eventually a couple residents planted some shrubs and flowers. Upkeep was handled by a progression of people as time went along. But over the years, some homeowners became more and more frustrated at the appearance of the front entrance, and lack of motivation on the community’s part to do something about it.
Finally, the MCA provided funds to have Jesse Saylor do a professional job and give the front entrance a facelift. Jesse Saylor, who grew up on Tiger Mtn Rd and owns Saylor Landscaping, worked with the MCA Board on the front entrance’s south side. In 2005, he did a quick, off-the-cuff landscape, installed the rocks, planted the shrubs and perennials, and maintained it for the first year. But the Summer 2005 issue of Mirrormont News reported, “Someone stole two plants from the newly landscaped front entrance. They just pulled them out of the ground and left the holes.”
Since 2006, Mirrormont resident Bryan Stempson, owner of Solstice Landscaping, has maintained the landscaping, including hauling buckets of water through the drought this past summer. “I just like to keep it looking tidy because it makes me feel better when I enter the neighborhood and it sets an example of what residents can do in their own yards,” he said.
Even so, volunteers continue to play a role: This summer, Martha Pinsky also hauled water to help keep the plants alive. Gary Reum and I removed graffiti on the north side sign, and Don Bergenty repainted it. This autumn, the three of us spread 20 cubic yards of wood chips around the plantings.
For more than ten years, Bryan Stempson, paid by your MCA dues, has kept our front entrance consistently attractive, thus helping us maintain property values and pride in where we live. Please give him your thanks—and know your dues are going to good use!
Please contact me if you have more to add to this story.