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At home in history

Dan and Jacque Quello have enjoyed restoring their 1906 house and want to share it with the public
by: Jonathan House, LABOR OF LOVE – When Dan and Jacque Quello purchased their house in 1990, it was in a state of disrepair. Fifteen years later, most of the work is behind the couple.

TIGARD - Entering through the ornate gates of the Quello House estate, visitors are transported back in time to 1906.

A homestead was granted in 1892 for the property, located on 92nd Avenue across from Tiger Stadium, and the house was completed in 1906, according to the current owners, Dan and Jacque Quello.

The property originally was used for an onion farm and encompassed 62 acres, but over the years, various parcels were sold off until just over 2 acres remain.

The house was moved back from the street and the foundation rebuilt when 92nd was put in, according to Dan, and then it entered a long, slow decline, finally serving as a boarding house.

The roof was caving in, windows were boarded up, and only dirt surrounded the house when the Quellos first saw it in 1990.

Dan had just become the pastor of the Light of Life Lutheran Church in Beaverton, and the Quellos were looking for a new home.

'It wasn't for sale, but we saw the possibilities,' Dan said.

They contacted the owner and purchased it without even seeing all the rooms in the approximately 3,600-square-foot house.

Then they set to work, spending in their estimation hundreds of thousands of dollars on the house and grounds.

'My wife's parents thought we were crazy,' Dan said.

Besides doing such obvious repairs as putting on a new roof, they used old glass to replace some windows, created a dining room out of part of the living room, remodeled the living room fireplace and added a mantle, and rebuilt the kitchen.

They also enclosed the rest of the side porch that had previously been partially enclosed, added a caterer's kitchen downstairs, and revamped the bathrooms using claw-foot bathtubs and pedestal sinks to retain the historic flavor.

Outside, even more construction was done - the Quellos built a gazebo, and Dan used the Tigard High shop to create gingerbread ornamentation to match the pieces above the front porch. They also built a stable and paddock for their Arabian horse, Sweetie, which is short for Sweet Afton.

They also added a pond, where their duck Aflack is in residence except when he goes over to visit Sweetie, seven distinct English gardens, patios and a lawn tennis court.

'This is the first older house we've owned,' Dan said. 'But we always had a love for them. I wanted to be close to the schools for our four kids, and Jacque wanted a Victorian in the country - this was our compromise.'

Around 1992 after a lot of the initial restoration was completed, the house was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation lasts for 15 years and requires homeowners to hold one open house a year. The Quellos plan to look into reapplying for another 15-year designation.

In 1994, the Quello House took second place in the landscape design category in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's sixth annual Great American Home Awards.

A jewel like the Quello House could not sit unnoticed, and about 10 years ago, the couple started getting requests to hold weddings there.

That first summer, two or three weddings were held, and it became a growth industry.

'As our kids got older, their friends wanted to be married here,' Dan said.

The couple held weddings not only for the friends of their children but also total strangers,

'We treated every bride and groom like they were our daughter and son,' Jacque said. 'We wouldn't want to do a lot of weddings - it's a lot of work.'

Dan, who served as a Lutheran pastor for 35 years before retiring two years ago, added, 'The events were simple and nicely done but elegant. We've accumulated a lot of plastic chairs, tables, tablecloths and serving pieces.'

The couple were denied a conditional-use permit in 2000 to operate a bed-and-breakfast and host public events, but in the past few years, they have hosted at no charge a few fund-raisers for such groups as the Broadway Rose Theatre Company, the Tigard Historical Society and the Tigard-Tualatin Schools Foundation.

Also, movie location scouts have come calling, and a number of ads and commercials have been shot and filmed on the property.

'These older historic homes in other communities are used a lot (commercially) and marketed aggressively,' Dan said. 'We see opening the house and property as an opportunity for local people to enjoy it and a way for us to keep it. It's a lot of work and expense to keep it up.

'It's been a wonderful, wonderful home in which to raise kids and grandkids, and we hear from people that they would love to step into a historic home. We want to share our gift of hospitality. Our goal is to have as little adverse impact on the neighbors as possible.'