Tacoma Historical Society will host its 23rd annual Tour of Historic Homes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 6 and 1 to 5 p.m. May 7; and the self-guided tour – the non-profit group's largest fundraiser – will focus on homes in the city's Proctor District.
“The easiest thing to do is to find houses in any given neighborhood so people can walk from house to house,” said Tacoma Historical Society's Marie Hayden, the event's chairwoman. “That's why we have so many in the Stadium District. That saved a lot of traffic, and people liked it. So we did the same thing this year. We picked houses from the Proctor and Stevens districts. They can park at either Sherman (Elementary) School or a side street and just walk from house to house.”
Tickets are $25, and they are available in advance at Pacific Northwest Shop, Stadium Thriftway, and at Tacoma Historical Museum, which is located at 919 Pacific Ave. They can also be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com.
Here are truncated descriptions of this year's homes provided by Tacoma Historical Society. Addresses have been removed to protect homeowners' privacy:
Balabanoff House The two-story Victorian house of approximately 3,450 square feet was built in 1893 for Dr. Ivan P. and Dr. Margaret Carsley Balabanoff at a cost of $3,300. The architect and builder are not known.
Ivan and his brother Christo set up a joint ear, eye, nose, and throat practice. Margaret established herself as a general practitioner, using Dr. Carsley as her professional name, and did pro-bono work among the poor. She was the first chair of the Washington State Red Cross and the first woman chair of the local chapter.
After the Balabanoff home was sold in 1929, it saw a number of owners, none of whom stayed more than a few years. The home was purchased in 1971 by long-time owners who have, over the years, undertaken extensive restoration. The home retains its original front door, and the entry has its original front door and stairway. The carved camphorwood Chinese chest in the entry is an heirloom from the 19th century.
Berry House Berry & Spaulding built this 4,612-square-foot American four-square home in 1906 for co-owner John W. Berry and his wife, Lillian. Born in 1857 in Illinois, Berry became a miller in his early 20s and the owner of a mill when he was just 26. Berry later served two terms on the Tacoma City Council.
The home has seen a number of changes over the years. It was repaired after a fire in 1940, remodeled in 1950, and remodeled again from 2000 to 2001. The current owners purchased the home in 2013.
To the right of the spacious entry is a parlor with French doors and a bay window. The modern kitchen has a large L-shaped island and tablet tile backsplash. A butler’s pantry connects the kitchen and dining room, which has an open-beam ceiling, a large display cabinet, and bay window. The living room has an angled fireplace with a marble hearth and formal mantel. The second floor retains its original fir floor, original hardware on the doors, and the original linen closet. Two of the original bedrooms are now used as offices. There are grand views of Puget Sound from the second floor.
Bethany Presbyterian Church Bethany Presbyterian Church began in February 1892 when a committee organized by First Presbyterian Church launched a Sunday school at the home of Robert and Ellen Tripple of 3933 North Stevens Street. The committee consisted of First Presbyterian pastor Rev. J. M. Patterson, E. I. Salmson, and Fitch B. Tracy. Tracy took the lead, apparently, for the effort was subsequently known as the Tracy mission. Sunday school was conducted at the Tripple home for about a year, when a small chapel, called the Tracy Chapel, was built on lots just south of the present church.
Bethany Presbyterian Church was organized in October 1904, and Rev. Oliver T. Mather, of Dryden, New York, was called as the first pastor. Rev. Mather soon increased the congregation from 18 to 81 members and launched a successful building campaign. In 1906, at a cost of $4,000, Tracy Chapel was moved to the site of the present church and expanded to include classrooms, a kitchen, and a banquet room. This church served the congregation until November 3, 1923, when an extensive fire that began in the basement damaged the building beyond repair. Less than two weeks later, the congregation unanimously voted to build a new, larger church on the same site.
Cushman House In 1912, celebrated Tacoma architects Frederick Heath and George Gove designed this three-story colonial-style home for Judge Edward E. and Alice Cushman. The contractor was C. H. Hallen. Built at a cost of $12,000, the two-and-a half-story home had about 4,872 square feet and three porches overlooking the bay. The top floor was a billiard room, one of many of the home’s interesting features. The billiard room took full advantage of the site, the high point of the building, and directly overlooked sweeping views of the water.
Judge Cushman was appointed United States district judge for Western Washington in 1912 and served with distinction until he retired in 1939. He died in 1944. His wife Alice continued to live in the home until her death in 1950.
Gray House In 1908, Albert and Elizabeth Gray built his two-story Colonial home of about 4,200 square feet, including its spacious attic, at a cost of $9,000. Designed by Harry Bingham Spear and constructed by Charles A. Bartz, the home was patterned after the home of the poet Longfellow in Cambridge, Mass. Albert Gray, professor of voice at Whitworth College, was a graduate of Harvard and the University of Paris. The Grays left Tacoma when Whitworth College relocated to Spokane in 1913.
The grand entry has leaded glass in the arch above the entry door. The living room features a large fireplace and built-in bookcases at one end. Originally used as a music practice and performance room, the living room runs the full length of the home. Both the living and dining room are furnished with mid-to-late 19th century European antiques from France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.
The second floor features a wide hall, fir floors, a study, and a large master bedroom and bath. Note particularly the Belgian tapestry and a Belgian “obituary painting” from 1861. The third floor has a family room with fireplace, a bedroom, and a large bath.
Knoble House In 1892, architect Ambrose J. Russell and Tacoma booster and real estate developer Allen C. Mason collaborated to build 10 homes in Tacoma’s North End. Mason had Cottage Home Building Company build this 3,895-square-foot late-Victorian home for Edward and Mary (Berry) Knoble for a cost of $3,000. Russell – newly arrived from the East Coast and the manager of the architectural department of Cottage Home Building Company - contributed to the design.
The entry features a corner fireplace with tile surround and an elegant hand-carved oak mantel. The living room has a similar corner fireplace with tablet tiles and hand-carved mantel as well as a bay window. The silver chandelier and sconces are original. A large, solid-brass floor register is between the entry and living room. The dining room has a stained-glass window, as does the entry. The dining room and living rooms have ceiling medallions and ornamental crown moldings that were hand-gilded by Cindy Miller.
Outouse House The first owners of this Dutch Colonial Revival home of 4,244 square feet, built in 1933, were Arthur and Beatrice Outouse. The architect and builder are unknown.
Arthur Outouse was president of Stokes Candy in the early 1930s. In the mid-1930s he became involved in auto sales and real estate. After Mr. Outouse’s death in 1939, Thor C. and Eva Tollefson purchased the home. Thor Tollefson served as Pierce County prosecutor from 1939 through 1946, and was elected in November 1946 to the U.S. Congress. He served for 18 years, losing his bid for re-election in 1964. During his time in Congress, Eva Tollefson wrote articles about the political scene for Tacoma News Tribune. Both Thor and Eva were graduates of Lincoln High School — and high school sweethearts.
After leaving Congress, Thor was appointed the state director of fisheries and was serving in that capacity when U.S. Judge George H. Boldt issued his 1974 “Boldt decision” on tribal fishing rights. Tollefson Plaza in downtown Tacoma is named in honor of Thor’s brother Harold, who served three terms as mayor of Tacoma.