Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Skamokawa architect loves to remodel

Mary Hogue, a recent addition to the community and an architect who specializes in remodels, is a sunny subject for this rainy Monday.

Summer was still making a spectacle of itself when I stopped by Hogue's home at Skamokawa Landing, now Viewpoint Landing, a couple weeks ago. It's a pleasant spot even when the wind kicks up a bit. But that is only natural for that particular location, where Steamboat Slough and the Columbia River come together and the breathtaking view far outweighs any negatives.

Certainly on a summer day such as that one.

In hindsight, you too might find yourself wondering why you didn't have the imagination to turn that particular commercial property into a home.

Considering that Hogue is an architect, I was surprised to learn it wasn't her idea.

That's all down to her husband, Jarrod, who works in education. He used to work for one educational company, Pearson, before setting up, which connects students with math tutors. He's starting another project now, Hogue said.

Prior to their move to Wahkiakum, the couple resided in Portland. Vacations were sometimes spent in their 22 foot fishing boat, traveling down the river and camping along the way. A few summers ago, Jarrod noticed the landing while they pitched their tents at Vista Park.

They returned again and again in the following months to look over the property.

At the time, Hogue's financial advisor simply responded to their idea with, "It's crazy but it's not stupid.

I can live with that, Hogue told him.

Six months later, the couple and their two daughters would move to Skamokawa.

"Jarrod's always been the one with a real job and steady income," Hogue told me. "Without him I don't know that I could have done it because it would have been too volatile or too risky. But that's what we do now."

"We're risk takers," she said proudly. "I'm glad we did it. I love it here."

Hogue grew up in the Chicago area. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and went on to work in Chicago. At 26, she traveled to France and came home determined to embark on a new adventure in a new city, to live a life that was all her own.

She set out with her resumé and quickly found employment, but her focused changed after working with a contractor, creating drawings for a remodel.

Hogue realized she could actually take the lead, or even better, work with her own team. So she set out to do that, starting MKM Architecture. She built a network of contractors in Portland, and her business grew.

What Hogue loves about a remodel is that it's never about her. It's about the house. She remembered an old Tudor she worked on in Portland.

"It was a sizable, classic, and regal house," Hogue said. "A nice house. But the kitchen was made up of tiny, funky shapes. A stove pushed over here, and a refrigerator shoved over there. All these other spaces were big and beautiful, and open, and then there was this. We were going to fix that and make the whole house feel like it could have, should have been that way from the beginning."

She believes in keeping all the period details, and keeping them uniform throughout the house.

"If you walked in and just knew it was a beautiful place, but couldn't say, oh, they did that, and they did that, then I feel like I won," Hogue said.

It's the same for the exterior.

"[The people who live in a neighborhood] might know construction is happening, but are not really paying attention. Later they'll think that house looks fresh, different, or new, but they can't name what was really done," she explained.

"I gravitate to the houses that have the charm, but weren't built as well," Hogue said. "They're harder to work on because they need so much extra stuff. And you're like, oh, man, this is all wonky. But I like the old styles of bungalows and that Tudor, that house I mentioned. And Victorians. They knew what they were doing back in the day. And so I like to know I helped keep it and not have someone tear it down or just do something awful to it and lose that charm that was there originally."

"Portland was actually kind of a perfect place for me to turn into the remodel girl because they do have so many nice older homes," she added. "Even the simple, not fancy ones, they're still charming and delicate. I just kind of stuck on that Remodel Avenue and that's what I got pretty good at, I think."

She enjoys working one on one with people, seeing the before and after of their home, and witnessing all the ways she is improving their lives.

"Your house is 100 years old," she supposed. "We're going to give it another 100 years. We're going to make it usable and functional for another hundred years."

Hogue had been quiet about what she does, but realized people were figuring it out. So twenty years into her career she joined the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce and decided to hang out her shingle, to see if she might find projects near her new home.

She was a bit reluctant without any knowledge of local contractors, but after finding Brad Williams of Nordic Enterprises, and Kent McDaniel, she's excited about her team, and a new project on Puget Island.

"They combine together for the two halves of what you need for a contractor," Hogue said of the pair. "Somebody behind the desk who makes calls, organizes things, and orders things and then the guy that's running around in the field all day. And so far they're great and I'm excited."

As for Skamokawa Landing, or Viewpoint Landing, that's a story for another time, but I will say, if you are looking for lodging, there are three beautifully appointed riverfront condos with lovely views that are available for visiting friends and family.

For more information on Hogue's work, go to To see pictures of Viewpoint Landing, or make a reservation, go to


Reader Comments(0)