Sanders Estate is located at 5516 South 277th Auburn, WA 98001. It is a 100 year old mansion on 35 acres of tranquil gardens and mill pond with swans. Robert Miller, owner of Sanders Estate stated, “We are a conference center and the bulk of the business is weddings (people rent out for the day for weddings and receptions). We can be rented for anniversaries, parties, team/corporate events, fundraisers, and social events. Everything basically takes place outside as we are not a bed and breakfast.”
Robert explained the history of the estate, “The house was completed in 1910, and was built by Eric Sanders, a Swedish immigrant who helped develop Bainbridge Island. In the late 1800s, Eric and his partners bought the 1100 acres to build it. They built the mill pond, saw mill, and timbered the surrounding area. They used the mill pond as a storage area for logs and milled them, sold the lumber, and when they were finished he built the family homestead and started farming.
Sanders Estate is a King County landmark and on the National Historic Register. When they were finished it, it had a carriage house with it, barns, and in 1920 Ben Smith bought the dairy which is now known as “Smith Brothers. The estate is now approximately 35 acres.”
Robert discussed his role with the mansion, “I purchased the property a little over 7 years ago and it was called, “Spring Hill Farm” early on and that’s the corporate name. The Standard Logging Company and Standard Dairy” stopped logging and became “Smith Brothers Dairy.”
I live here and restored the house and the grounds and continue to do so. It’s just a beautiful and very unique private spot. It’s like an oasis; if you will surrounded by suburban. The farm is protected by agricultural land surrounding me. I’ve kind of restored it to its original state. It has quite the history; it was a social retreat for the Seattle folks. The Queen of Romania visited here. There was a lot of entertaining that was conducted in the early days. They had a lot of functions in the early 1900’s, and after that operated as a hatchery for local restaurants. Later it became a sportsman game club (they imported pheasants and exotic game bird on the property). In the mid 1940s, Harold Stewart owned it until the mid 1980s and the carriage house, barns, and house fell to disrepair. A church owned it for 20 years and I’m the 4th owner. The mansion has one-of-a kind handmade chandeliers, and twin entryways with stained glass from the 1908 Alaska Yukon Exposition.”
Robert commented on his mansion, “I think it’s a very unique setting to a bygone era; both the housing and the setting. It’s something to be preserved, it’s a great piece of history and the architecture is a classic craftsman’s style mansion. It has the original paving of West Valley Highway for example, and the surplus bricks are used in the construction of the house. The native trees are from the lumber mill known as the Standard Logging Company. Interstate 5 is up a mile from the hill. It’s very non-descript driving up the road when people come in, they are shocked by the old house’s beauty.”
Robert discussed the best thing about the mansion, “It’s a rare combination of architecture and the natural beauty of the grounds; those two things together are very rare. You find farm land, ponds, meadows, and forest and are close to the city with a house in it.” Sanders mentioned the most unique thing about the mansion, “The integrity of original fixtures and the furnishings are in excellent condition. I’ve restored it to its original grandeur.”
When asked who he recommended visit the mansion, Robert replied, “Anyone that wants a private park for the day or a beautiful setting. Brides come here and it’s emotional when they see the water, the rowboat, grounds, and want an outdoor garden wedding. It’s a great back drop for their photographs. We have large yard space for social functions that’s why I think people come here. There’s not another venue in south king county that has this much land and usually they are on one or maybe five acres. I am on 35 acres. In addition to offering a great back drop for weddings, my staff offers a planning service to putting the bride and groom’s special day together (included with renting out the venue).”
For more information about Sanders Estate, please visit: SandersEstate.com. “Our season normally runs from May through October. It’s our sixth season. We have done over 200+ weddings since we started and we do 40 weddings a year just in summer alone,” Robert concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com