Driving along Duke Road in Metchosin, there’s one home that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Amidst the many acreages that dot the road sits Gracefield Manor. Overlooking the Olympic Mountains and surrounded by a sea of grass, its pristine white exterior, towering pillars and green window covers catch the eyes of many people as they walk or drive past it.
“As one person said, it’s a lily in a field,” owner Shirley Wilde said.
But little may be known about Gracefield Manor. There’s been many tales told over the years about the mansion, including that it was once haunted – a thought that still brings a smile to Wilde’s face.
Now, Wilde is hoping to set the record straight with a new book about the Metchosin landmark.
“It’s a history book,” said the 84-year-old. “There’s so much misinformation about this place … It is a curiosity.”
The roughly 140-page book includes the long and storied past of Gracefield Manor and those who once lived there.
The mansion was originally built in 1944 by Chicago socialite Robert Grace, the great grandson of a well-known building contractor, who lived there with his wife, Rita.
The home contains five bedrooms, five fireplaces, four bathrooms, a finished servants quarters and an exotic bar in the basement. The Graces lived and died in the home, and Wilde purchased the property, house and some of its contents from Mrs. Grace’s estate in March 1991.
But years of neglect had left the house weather-worn and the yard had become overgrown and overshadowed the house. Shortly after, Wilde started major renovations on the home to restore it to its natural beauty.
She hired Metchosin contractor David Dziadyk, who completed renovations to the inside of the home in just five weeks.
After roughly six more weeks, the outside was revived as well.
For roughly eight years, Wilde operated a bed and breakfast in the manor. Fast forward nearly three decades and people continue to ask her questions about the mansion.
“My friends and family have been pestering me from the beginning to do a book on the Graces,” said Wilde, adding she has no intentions of selling the 11-acre property any time soon.
“Everyone’s asking about the history of the house, it’s so out of place … Some of the questions are who built the house? Where did they come from? What’s the rest of the story on those people?”
For the last year and a half, Wilde, along with the help of her granddaughter, Rebecca, has been sifting through documents in the home that belonged to the Graces, in hopes of shedding light on the wealthy Metchosin family.
The book is currently in the final stages of proofing and is expected to be released in the next two to three weeks. Wilde hopes to print 100 copies of the book through Island Blue Print Co. Ltd. as part of a trial run.