High on my list of favorite houses is this gem at the entrance to Green Valley, a narrow valley near Auburn that's filled with truck farms, horse farms, and the Green River... and also one of my favorite twisty sports car roads. As a teenager, I had a summer job picking strawberries at a farm here. Our bus would lumber past the old mansion, turning grey as the paint flaked off, becoming overrun with brambles. It was a sad thing to see. Today, whenever I drive the road in the MX-5, I remember those long-ago days, and am grateful that someone was able to rescue this beautiful old house.
The Neely Mansion is a two-story Victorian Classic Revival farmhouse, completed in 1894 as the family home on a farm of 200 acres. The house features three broad covered porches, elaborate millwork, and stands near the confluence of Soos Creek and the Green River. There was a ferry crossing on the Green River, which made the farm a kind of social center for the area. In spite of this, the family felt isolated. They lived in the mansion for only a few years before moving back to Auburn.
By the 1950’s the mansion was no longer inhabited, and it stood vacant for nearly three decades. When the house was threatened by demolition plans, local citizens began a fundraising campaign to save the mansion so future generations could enjoy this part of valley history.
The Neely Mansion Association, a nonprofit, volunteer historical society, owns the house and grounds today, and ongoing restoration work is bringing the mansion back to its former glory, one feature at a time.
The Neely Mansion is listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the Washington State Register, and is a designated King County landmark. It is open for tours and special fundraising events; check the website for more information: www.neelymansion.org.