by RENEE MIZAR
Communications Coordinator, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley
From the trees his grandparents planted and barn where his father and uncle raised calves to the neighboring field where he played as a child, B.J. Schade’s century-old Sequim home is flush with family memories.
Three generations of Schades have called the two-story house on nearly 1.6 acres at the corner of Old Olympic Highway and North Fifth Avenue home since Schade’s grandparents purchased the property in 1957. Fifty-six years later, he and cousin Tanja are its current co-owners.
Schade, a 1995 Sequim High School graduate, said visiting his grandparents’ place after school was just a regular part of his day while growing up in Sequim. As such, with each property feature – be it the gazebo his father, Bruce, and grandfather built to the Gravenstein apple tree they’d pick from to make pies and applesauce – comes a different memory or family story.
“I had my birthday party here every year. We had a big water balloon fight at the end, chased my dad around,” Schade recalled with a laugh. “My friends chased him up the apple tree with the hose. That was pretty funny.”
In addition to fruit trees, large noble firs and other miscellaneous varieties peppered throughout the property are among its most distinctive features. Once nearly devoid of trees, his grandparents’ many plantings coupled with his uncle’s abandoned Christmas tree farm project left the property a venerable forest.
Schade said he has spent the past few years trying to make the landscaping more manageable and ridding the place of dead or dying trees.
“They got a little carried away and didn’t look at the growth projections of some of the trees,” Schade said of his grandparents’ penchant for planting trees near the house.
“It’s always a decision when you’re cutting something down because it is mainly stuff that my grandparents planted. I try to keep as much of it as I can.”
Cougar sports heritage
A head football coaching job at Sequim High School drew Schade’s grandparents, William and Frances Schade, to Sequim in 1947. The two would become beloved figures in their adopted community in the ensuing years – William as a teacher, guidance counselor and football and track coach, and Frances as the town’s librarian for more than two decades.
A former Washington State University track and football star in the late 1930s-early 1940s who signed with the New York Giants, William Schade’s professional sports career was preempted by military service. Upon graduation, he entered the United States Army and earned a Bronze Star.
“I believe he was an offensive lineman in the fall and then came out in the spring and did the hurdles and high jump, and that’s not a combination you see too often anymore,” Schade said of his grandfather’s collegiate endeavors. “He was 205 during football and then during the spring he’d lean down to 190 or 195. Still, a big hurdler and high jumper.” The family patriarch’s enthusiasm for the game continued, however, and he went on to head the Sequim Wolves football team for nearly a decade.
Schade, his father and grandmother also attended Washington State University, where Schade followed in his grandfather’s footsteps as a Cougar athlete by joining the track team and throwing hammer and discus. Schade, a personal trainer who runs Performance Sport & Fitness in Sequim, also shares his grandfather’s appreciation of football and has been working with local high school players seeking a collegiate-level training program.
With ongoing renovations inside the house to trimming trees and painting the barn, Schade said there are always projects to do around the place. While not a farming family, the Schades did occasionally make use of the barn for livestock. Mainly used by his grandparents for storage, Schade said it also housed a few cows during his father’s childhood. “They’d get a calf and raise it, and then they would sell their calves because they could never butcher them,” he said. “They’d buy meat from someone else, from Lehman’s or Johnny Knapman.”
Schade said he believes the E.D. Prim family was the first owner of the home, built in 1907 with four bedrooms and no bathrooms. Family lore also suggests that the Prims left their mark on the property in more ways than one.
“The story is that Mr. Prim’s wooden leg is buried somewhere on the property,” Schade said. “Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. It could’ve just been something that my grandfather was telling me.”