The name “E.R. Rogers” is more likely to stir memories of Sunday brunch among residents in the South Sound than a serving of legal briefs. But it is a couple of attorneys that now own the mansion and have made sure the structure will remain standing long into the future.
Upon close examination, the structure still has the E.R. Rogers placard on the side of the building. But other than a couple of other salvageable pieces, the mansion has been completely rebuilt. It stopped being a restaurant in 2005 and now houses the law office of Jeffrey D. Gross and the law office of Peggy Fraychineaud Gross.
“Some people come by thinking it is still the restaurant,” Fraychineaud Gross said. “The restaurant really took a toll on the building.”
The couple lives in Federal Way, but had their first date at E.R. Rogers. When they found out the mansion was on the market, they couldn’t resist the opportunity. Unfortunately, they had no idea the amount of work they would end up having to do on the place.
“We completely rebuilt the building,” Fraychineaud Gross said. “It was like having two full-time jobs. It’s been a labor of love.”
The first thing the new owners did was remove a rat-infested tree located on the unfinished landscaping near the mansion. They also discovered many other weird surprises, like the fact the building did not have any insulation.
“I’m really surprised it didn’t burn down,” Fraychineaud Gross said.
Fraychineaud Gross, a former antique shop owner, said she tried to keep the Victorian feel of the building. Her stained glass and chandelier creating experience only helped her improve the appearance of the finished space.
However, before the paintings, chandeliers and stained glass windows could be placed throughout the building, the two lawyers had to invest more money than they had anticipated to make the structure sustainable for them to work in it.
The couple had to re-do the foundation, replace the electrical, plumbing and heating, and fully outfit the building with interior sprinklers. They repainted the outside and inside, added crown molding and redid the unfinished landscaping.
To do all of this interior renovation work, the building had to be gutted and put up on stilts.
“The town was almost hysterical about it,” Fraychineaud Gross said.
And while some people are disappointed that the mansion is not a restaurant anymore, Fraychineaud Gross said they have been receiving positive reactions from people, and the neighbors have been great.
Before the couple could begin to work on the building, they had to get approval from the town’s historic preservation review board.
The pair has about a half-dozen available office spaces that they will be looking to rent.
Fraychineaud continues to put in seven-day weeks working on her practice and on the building, but feels the work will payoff for them and for the city.
“It will be our little legacy to Steilacoom,” she said.