Historic Homes of Tacoma

// Annual event will feature North End highlights

  • First Presbyterian Church.

  • First Presbyterian Church.

  • Stadium High School.

  • Metzger house.

  • Vaeth house.

  • Petrich house.

  • Pratt house.

  • Friedman house.

  • Kyle house.

Tacoma Historical Society’s home tour will bring people into houses in Stadium District and the North Slope this year. The annual event will take place on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on May 5 from 1-5 p.m.

The event is the group’s major fundraiser of the year. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at Pacific Northwest Shop, Stadium Thriftway, and Columbia Bank branches in Fircrest, the intersection of North 21st and Pearl streets and the corner of South 19th Street and Union Avenue. They can also be purchased at First Presbyterian Church the days of the tour.

First Presbyterian Church

This church, located at Division and Tacoma avenues, will serve as the reception center this year. Predating the official founding of New Tacoma by eight months, seven people met with Presbytery on July 27, 1873 to form Tacoma Presbyterian Church, which eventually became First Presbyterian Church. The financial crash of that year shattered many of the small congregation, but the church was re-instated on Sept. 11, 1877.

Over its 140 years the congregation has worshipped in three different church buildings and one town hall, as well as in a large tent. The first church was erected in December 1882 at South 11th Street and Broadway (where the Woolworth building is now). As the city grew, the congregation built again in June 1890 at South 10th and ‘G’ streets, near the old Pierce County Courthouse.

The church expanded rapidly under the leadership of Dr. Clarence W. Weyer, who came in December 1915 and started 11 Sunday schools throughout Tacoma that later became Presbyterian churches. These were the turbulent years of World War I. The church expanded so rapidly that planning began in 1921 for the current building.

Designed by the famous Boston church architect Ralph Adams Cram, this masterpiece in Romanesque architecture has an 1,100-seat sanctuary, 250-seat chapel, social halls and educational spaces for Sunday and weekday activities (including a 300-child preschool and elementary).

The building is rich in Christian symbolism expressed in stone, wood, stained glass and mosaic. When it was built it had the largest Reuter pipe organ west of the Mississippi River. It is still used during worship services.

Under the leadership of Dr. J. Renwick McCullough, from 1936-49, the congregation grew to its maximum size. During World War II the church opened its doors and beds for servicemen. The women of the church cooked meals for them every weekend. Over the period of McCullough’s ministry, the church sent out more than 20 missionaries around the world.

Stadium High School

Tacoma Land Co. began construction in 1890 of what was to be a grand tourist hotel. The architects were Hewitt & Hewitt. The work was well along when the Panic of 1893 and the ensuing depression put a permanent halt to construction. In 1898 a fire of unknown origin destroyed the wooden portions of the structure, leaving just the foundation and brick walls standing above the ground. In 1903 demolition of the structure, primarily to salvage the bricks, stopped when Tacoma School Board decided to convert the unfinished hotel into a high school.

For the new high school, renowned Tacoma architect Frederick Heath designed a building in French-chateau style – a copy, it was said, of an old French castle near Tours, on the Loire River south of Paris. Construction contractor George Evans started the work in 1905; and the new Tacoma High School, as it was then known, opened on Sept. 10, 1906. There were 878 students and 38 teachers. Heath also designed Stadium Bowl next to the new high school.

When the bowl opened in 1910 it had a capacity of 32,000. It served as the venue for high school athletics and major civic events. (During his long career Heath also designed such Tacoma landmarks as Lincoln High School, Central School, McKinley and Fern Hill elementary schools, Pythian Temple, the Church of St. Patrick, First Lutheran Church and the Rhodes and Fisher department stores on Broadway.)

Tacoma High School was renamed Stadium High School in 1913 when Lincoln High School opened. In 1918 Stadium gained an underground gymnasium. Renovated in 1960, the gymnasium, popularly referred to as “the dungeon,” was used until 2004. A number of other changes to Stadium were made over the years, including the addition of an industrial arts and science building in the 1970s.

In an $88 million project, Stadium underwent major renovation in 2005–06. The design was by Krei Architects.Skanska USA Building was the contractor and Turner Construction Company was the project manager. The entire interior of the “Castle” was removed, and new girders and floors were installed at each story of the building. The reconstruction features many design elements appropriate to the historic school, including new windows with wood frames. A new performing arts and physical education building was also constructed. After being closed for the duration of the two-year project, Stadium reopened in September 2006 ­– just in time to serve, most appropriately, as the grand centerpiece of a huge centennial celebration.

The renovated Stadium High School, one of the most architecturally notable high schools in the nation, has four floors.

Metzger House

In 1901 famed Tacoma architects Ambrose J. Russell and Frederick Heath designed this foursquare house for Alfred F. and Emily Metzger, their family of three sons and a daughter and Emily’s mother, Esther G. Pratt. The contractors were Campbell and Miller. The stately 3,376-square-foot house retains its original hipped roof and dormers, as well as the paired Doric columns that grace the entry portico. Alfred Metzger was the chief deputy at the Pierce County Treasurer’s Office. The Metzgers’ daughter, Emily, was married in the home in 1925. Tacoma Daily Ledger noted: “Wild huckleberry foliage made a background for stately white chrysanthemums and pink gladioli in the living room for the nuptial service.…” Their son, Frederick D. Metzger, graduated from Whitworth College, was a Rhodes scholar, became a successful attorney, and, eventually, president of Washington State Bar Association.

The Metzgers lived in the home until 1942, when it was sold to Thomas M. and Irene Barnwell. Thomas was a circulation manager for Tacoma News Tribune. In 1993, the home was purchased by its current owner, who has done extensive restoration throughout the home.

The large entry has its original fir woodwork and fir floors. The living room to the left has pocket doors to close it off from both the entry and the dining room. The drumhead chandelier in the living room dates from the 1920s. The fireplace has Roman brick facing and a craftsman-style mantel. To the right of the entry, what was originally a music room has new French doors. The dining room has a bay window and a built-in buffet with leaded-glass windows in the china cabinets. The light fixture, originally operated with gas and now reworked for electric lights, was moved to the dining room from an upstairs bedroom. The dining-room walls are painted in the original color. The large clock is from Germany and was built in 1790.

The kitchen has been opened up by exposing the back stairway. The pantry cupboard, original to the house, was relocated during remodeling. The three-quarter bath on the main floor features wainscoting that was reused from the kitchen. The antique mirror dates from 1908.

Both the back and main stairways to the second floor are original. The very large landing serves as an entry to all five bedrooms and the large bathroom at the south end of the home. The wainscoting in this bathroom was also relocated from the kitchen, as was the bench by the bathtub.

Vaeth House

In 1898, Richard and Louise Vaeth had this 6,207-square-foot home constructed at a cost of $16,000 in a simplified Queen Anne style that incorporates Romanesque elements. Architect Ambrose J. Russell combined a cylindrical Queen Anne turret and bay windows with a complementary half-octagon veranda featuring paired Doric columns above a stone foundation with Romanesque arches and iron grilles. The prominent chimney has inset windows flanking the flues. The ornate, ornamental garlands that originally circled the home at the top of the second floor were removed a number of years ago. In 1906 Vaeth built the first concrete garage in Tacoma, having the contractor dig into the embankment on the west side of the property. Vaeth is pictured, together with the garage and his new six-cylinder Ford, in the Tacoma Daily Ledger of July 1, 1906.

Vaeth was a successful jeweler, operating a high-end “Tiffany-style” retail store on Pacific Avenue, the president of Pacific Coast Gypsum Manufacturing Co., and a director of the National Bank of Commerce. The Vaeths sold the home in 1919. The interior retains almost all of its original décor, including rich oak wainscoting and woodwork on the first two floors. The vestibule, its original tile floor, opens to the entry parlor, which features a brick fireplace with an ornate, carved oak mantel.

The large drawing room is accessed from the parlor through a wide graceful arch. The massive drawing room fireplace and carved oak mantel is the dominant feature of the room. The three chandeliers are original.

A library room is accessed through panel doors. The library has its own fireplace and built-in leaded-glass bookcases. The living room’s bay window and its built-in seating overlook the veranda. The dining room has built-in cupboards with leaded-glass doors.

The oak floor’s boards are angled to match the cupboards. The kitchen is beyond the dining room.

The Vaeths’ two daughters were married in the drawing room. The Tacoma Daily Ledger of July 31, 1910, reported of the wedding of Hilda Vaeth and Henry Hewitt, Jr. that “Thousands of starry marguerites blossomed in high clusters in the corners … The feature of the decorations, however, was the bridal altar erected in the great bay window.”

The May 13, 1917, union of Rhoda Vaeth to Vaughn Morrill was, in contrast, “an apple blossom wedding and the rooms were bowered with beautiful blooming branches …”

The landing of the stairway upstairs features elegant stained-glass windows. The second floor has six bedrooms and a bathroom with its original claw-foot tub.

Petrich House

Hervey M. and Marie C. Petrich had this 4,169-square-foot contemporary home built in 1959 by Tacoma architect Jim Petrich (no relation). Located at the point of the Hewitt Heights Addition north of Annie Wright School, the home has spectacular views of Puget Sound and Vashon Island.

Hervey was the son of Martin A. Petrich, who founded Western Boat Company in Tacoma in 1913. The firm was known especially for its tuna boats and for its Fairliner pleasure boats. Hervey, together with his brothers Allen, James, Jack and Martin Jr., was associated with Western Boat his entire career. Marie was active in the community, serving on the boards of Bellarmine, Aquinas and St. Patrick schools. Hervey and Marie traveled the world in pursuit of business for Western Boat. The daughter of Hervey and Marie now owns the home.

The home, on two levels, is a very fine example of mid-century architecture and features subtle oriental and shipbuilding details. A large abstract expressionist painting by Seattle artist Tom Wilson dominates the far end of the spacious entry. The end by the entry door has a built-in bar, which is normally hidden behind sliding panels. Sliding panels with opaque panes in the Japanese manner, including the panels that, when extended, close off the entry from the living room, are a recurring theme in the home. The posts of the railings shielding the stairway to the lower level incorporate rectangular brass posts, a shipbuilding element repeated in the legs of the dining-room table. The table was custom-built for the home. The living room and dining room have bamboo floors.

The living room has window walls that take advantage of the view and a large fireplace with a striking stone surround of sandstone and basalt. The “couch” in the living room is actually an elephant saddle from Thailand. The dining room can be shut off from the living room with three sliding panels. The wood of the dining-room table matches that of the built-in buffet. The painting in the dining room is by Paul Horiuchi.

The spacious L-shaped kitchen has a large table as well as a sitting area and a fireplace with a copper hood. The panels at the end of the sitting area open to the garden area beyond. A half bath with a copper sink is opposite the laundry room and small butler’s pantry.

Two bedrooms and the master bathroom, all with extensive built-in storage cabinets, are down the hall from the entry. The master bedroom has its own fireplace. Sliding panels can be deployed to separate the space into two rooms. The bedroom at the end of the hall is now used as a home office.

Pratt House

Judge William H. Calkins had two adjacent three-story Queen-Anne-style homes built in 1891 at 323 and 321 N. ‘J’ St. at a cost of $6,000. He moved into 323 N. ‘J’ St., rented the other house to William Effinger and William Ott for a short time, then sold the home to LeRoy and Elizabeth Pratt in 1892. Calkins, who moved to Tacoma in 1890, had been appointed a Washington Territory Superior Court Judge in 1888. Calkins died in 1894. (The house at 323 N. ‘J’ St. was demolished in the mid-1970s and replaced with a four-plex facing North 4th Street.) Pratt was the vice president of Garretson, Woodruff & Pratt, a wholesale dry goods firm. He was later treasurer and general manager of Peoples Store.

When Elizabeth Pratt died of typhoid fever in 1907 at age 38, Pratt retired from Peoples and devoted himself to investing. He added a garage behind the home shortly after his wife died. He remained in the home until his death in 1924. His then-grown children stayed on, eventually selling to new owners in the late 1930s.

The exterior of the 3,484-square-foot home is much as it was in 1891, retaining its Queen Anne character and appearance. The original entry door has a beveled-glass window. The entry itself has a stained-glass window. The high ceilings on the first floor, at just over 10 feet, add a sense of spaciousness to the first floor. The home retains most of its original doors and ornate hardware. The parlor has its original clear fir woodwork and floor and a stained-glass window above the picture window. The parlor fireplace has an oak mantel with a beveled mirror and small tablet tiles. Pocket doors give access to the dining room, which also has clear fir floors and woodwork. The dining room fireplace has brown tiles and an oak mantel with a beveled mirror. A butler’s pantry with original cupboards leads to the kitchen, which has been updated with a peninsula, granite tile counters, and a tile floor. French doors give access to a deck and back yard.

The stairway winds from the entry to the second and third floors. The original clear woodwork of the turned railings and banister finials show to advantage. The second floor has three large bedrooms. The master bedroom, at the front of the home, has a bay window and its own bath. The main bathroom was updated in the 1940s. The other two bedrooms have closets, an unusual feature at the time.

The third floor, originally the servants’ quarters, was converted into an apartment, apparently in the 1940s, and consists of a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath.

Friedman House

In 1925, Dana Roberts, Tacoma builder and architect, engaged contractor Charles W. Jones to construct this 4,148-square-foot, stuccoed, Tudor-cottage-style home. Adjacent to Garfield Park, the home is just a few doors past the entrance to Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club. Roberts sold the home to Samuel and Mary Friedman.

Friedman came to Tacoma as a young immigrant from Latvia. In 1909, he and his cousin Morris founded Hub Clothing, a successful, long-time fixture at 1118 Pacific Avenue. An article in The Tacoma Times from 1941 celebrates the remodeling of Hub Clothing that marked the 35th anniversary of the store. An advertisement for the grand reopening states that the store carries such well-known brands as Hyde Park, Arrow Shirts and Nunn Bush Shoes, as well as Holeproof Hose and Wembly Non-Wrinkle Ties, Friedman was also a founder of Tacoma B’nai B’rith and of Talmud Torah congregation, which later became Temple Beth El. The Friedmans raised their four children in the home, selling it in 1947 to John and Katherine Taylor, retired wheat farmers from Lincoln County. The Taylors lived in the home until 1980.

The living room is to the right of the entry through leaded-glass doors. Complementary leaded-glass windows grace the street side of the living room. The picture window overlooks Garfield Park and the well-landscaped grounds, which extend along the edge of the park to the streetlight some distance away. The fireplace retains its original tile surround. The office beyond the living room has great views of the park and Annie Wright School. The dining room is to the left of the entry. Like the living room, it, too, has leaded-glass windows facing the street. The entry, living room and dining room retain their original mahogany woodwork and oak floors.

The kitchen, with its alcove dinette, has been tastefully updated with new cabinets and a professional range. A television room, originally a bedroom, is behind the kitchen. An updated bathroom and guest bedroom finish off the main floor.

A stairway with its original oak banister leads to the upstairs. The master bedroom, to the right, has an alcove with an arched entry, as well as mahogany woodwork and cabinets.

The upstairs bath has been redone in period style. There are two additional large bedrooms on this floor.

A leaded-glass door on the main floor hallway affords access to the stairway to the fully-furnished lower level of the home. This level has a large bedroom, a full bath, a laundry room and a large recreation room with a fireplace. French doors open to the deck and yard. A garage is also accessed from the lower level.

Kyle House

Ambrose J. Russell designed this 1902 home, a fine 2,268-square-foot example of turn-of-the-century simplified Queen-Anne style, for George and Mildred Kyle at a cost of $3,000. Kyle was a railroad engineer with extensive experience in the Midwest. In 1902 he was division engineer for Northern Pacific Railroad, responsible for the area west of Spokane. Eugene and Louise Church purchased the home in 1910 for $7,500. Eugene Church developed real estate along Puget Sound between Steilacoom and Tacoma, including Day Island. He was also at one point the mayor of Steilacoom. Louise had a medical degree, had been an inspector for the New York Health Department, and a lecturer on current events, as well as being socially active in Tacoma.

Charles and Elizabeth Buckley bought the home in 1917. Charles was vice president of Pacific First Federal Savings & Loan and the brother of W. K. Buckley, a founder of Buckley-King Mortuary. The Buckleys sold the home in 1937 to the Reverend William Turrill, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Rev. Turrill owned the home for just a short time, selling it in 1939 to Michael and Mary Petri. Petri owned the Center Street Service Station. After his death in 1961, Mary continued to live in the home. She sold it in 1979 to its current owners, Proctor District merchants Bill and Ann Evans.

The exterior of the home has seen only modest changes since it was new. The second-floor balcony, originally just in front of the bay window, was extended across the home to offer magnificent views of Puget Sound.

The entry still has its original light fixture. The oval window to the right is a hallmark of Russell’s home designs. The stairway photos and drawings are of ships with a Tacoma history.

A striking feature of the living room is an ornate carved-oak fireplace surround with an oval mirror. The surround, not original to the home, dates from 1894, and was acquired and installed by the Evanses. The stained-glass windows above the center windows in the two living-room bays are original. Antique light fixtures cover two gas pipes that extend from the ceiling and that originally provided light to the room.

The present sitting and television room, accessed from the living room through French doors, was originally the dining room. It still retains its original plate rails and swinging door to the kitchen. The kitchen and main floor bathroom have been enlarged and updated since the home was new. The shower in the bathroom now occupies the space originally taken up by the servant’s stairway. The upstairs has four large bedrooms.


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