History of 12 Whitman Street, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description:

Beginning at the point of intersection of the Easterly line of Lot 4 of Evan’s Addition to the City of Walla Walla, Washington as per plat thereof recorded in Volume C of Plats at page 3, records of Walla Walla County, with the southerly line of Whitman Street; thence 60E10′ West, along said Southerly line of Whitman Street, a distance of 100 feet; thence South 29E50′ East to a point in the South line of Lot 6 of said Evans’ Addition; thence East along the South line of said Lot 6 to the Southeast corner thereof; thence North 29E 50′ West along the Westerly line of Lots 6, 5, and 4 of said Evans’ Addition to the point of beginning.

ALSO, beginning at the Northeast corner of Lot 11 of Menlo Park Addition to the City of Walla Walla, Washington, as per plat thereof recorded in Volume C of Plats at page 48, records of Walla Walla County, and running thence West along the North line of said Lot 11 a distance of 107.6 feet; thence South 29E50′ East 51.58 feet to a point in the south line of said Lot 11; thence East along said South line 82.4 feet to the Southeast corner of said Lot 11; thence North along said East line of said Lot 11, a distance of 45 feet to the point of beginning.

ALSO, beginning at the Northwest corner of Lot 12 of the said Menlo Park Addition and running thence East along the North line of said Lot 12 to the point of intersection thereof with the Easterly line of Lot 6 of Evan’s addition to the City of Walla Walla; thence South 29E50′ East, along the produced Easterly line of said Lot 6, a distance of 51.58 feet, more or less, to a point in the South line of said Lot 12 of Menlo Park Addition; thence West along the South line of said Lot 12 to the Southwest corner thereof; thence North along the West line of said Lot 12 a distance of 45 feet to the point of beginning.

Title History:

The land that comprises the City of Walla Walla was acquired from the Cayuse and Walla Walla Indian tribes by the U.S. Government in a treaty signed on June 9, 1855 in Walla Walla and ratified on March 8, 1859 by President James Buchanan. Walla Walla was originally laid out by surveyor H.H. Case in 1859, even before its formal incorporation as a city in 1862, as a one-quarter mile square oriented N-S, E-W with its eastern side centered on the point where Main Street crossed Mill Creek (at roughly the point where it does now). To this original area, additional parcels were annexed from time to time, usually with the name of the land owner of record at the time the additions were made. A.B. Roberts is the first name listed in the records for 12 Whitman St.  Roberts came to Walla Walla from Portland in 1859 and purchased a claim to a large section of land south of Main St. where, among other things, he raised fruit trees, having brought the first grafted fruit trees with him.

The first recorded transaction for this property occurred on December 19, 1868 when A.B. Roberts and Martha E. Roberts sold a 6.53 acre parcel of their large holdings to S.S. Coston and Frances Coston for $700. On February 24, 1870 the Costons sold the parcel to America J. Evans and her husband R. I. Evans. No stated amount was given for this transaction. This sale resulted in the name Evans Addition for the section of Walla Walla where 12 Whitman St. would be built. A December 1, 1887 document for this property was a Lease of Land to “Chung Tom, a Chinaman,” for five years beginning on March 1, 1888 for an annual amount of $252. Based on similar documents for other properties in this era, Chung Tom was probably a truck farmer. A Quit Claim Deed was filed on January 13, 1894 by R.I. Evans to his children for the yet undivided 6.53 acre parcel. The children were William H. Evans, Clara E. Arrasmith, Ernest C. Evans and Maggie M. Workman. Several documents described the transactions that each of the Evans heirs and their spouses initiated as they shed their quarters of the piece then defined as lots 4, 7, 12, 17, 18, and 19 in Evans Addition. Only one price for one of those quarters was recorded: $2500 in gold coin received by Ernest Evans. Further transactions were negotiated by the Evans heirs to Mordo McDonald and Belle McDonald on March 5, 1894 and Jeff Googins and Frank Googins on November 19, 1896. On January 20, 1898 Mordo and Belle McDonald sold lots 5 and 6 in Evans Addition to Grant Copeland. On November 8, 1898 Jeff Googins, Frank Googins and Mildred Googins sold Grant Copeland a “fraction of lot 4 in Evans Addition, said lot being nine feet in the rear of said lot and running back Westerly 129 feet to a point; the same being a triangular lot and all of said lot now owned by parties of the first part…” The combination of the McDonald and Googins sales to Copeland resulted in the property description that appeared as “fractional lot 4, lot 5 and fractional lot 6 in Evans Addition.”  No documents have been found to explain the acquisition of lot 11 which is also part of the current legal description. No amount is listed for the Googins/Copeland transaction. The 1900-01 City Directory lists Grant Copeland and Alice Copeland as residing at 12 Whitman St.  City directories list Copeland as the owner of Walla Walla Warehouse and Elevator Co. The Copelands are listed at 220 Newell in the 1908 City Directory, and later moved to 510 S. Palouse.

On August 28, 1907 this property was purchased from the Copelands by Isaac S. Braden and Amy E. Braden for $4600. The documents for this sale contain today’s legal description. Braden was President of Pacific Machine Co. Nellie M. Braden is listed as a Whitman student and Clarence Braden is listed simply as a student in the 1908 City Directory. Because building permits were not recorded until 1907, the only permit located for 12 Whitman St. was one obtained by Isaac Braden on February 21, 1908 for the removal of two barns. On November 29, 1910 I. S. and Amy Braden sold to M.R. Hanger and Minnie Hanger. M.R. Hanger is listed as being in the real estate and insurance firm known as Hanger and Fletcher at 24 E. Alder in the 1911-12 City Directory. On March 31, 1913 the Hangers gave a Quit Claim Deed to T.J. Costley and Laura A. Costley. On September 16, 1914 a Sheriff’s Deed was given by Sheriff M.R. Toner against the Costleys. The buyer was Frank Thompson and Ruth V. Thompson of Lewiston, Idaho. There was no listing of their residency or any other residents at 12 Whitman St. until August 30, 1917 when the Thompsons sold the house to Clifford Riggs and Ida G. Riggs. The Riggs family, in various configurations, were thereafter listed as residing at 12 Whitman St. in city directories until 1956. In 1957 Josephine E. Niemeyer and Edwin A. Niemeyer purchased the property from Clifford Riggs, who had acquired it from his mother Anna Riggs in 1942. No documents were available indicating the price paid. Edwin Niemeyer was listed as a floral designer at Jacky and Fiedler Flowers. Their son John is listed as a WSU student in the 1960 City Directory. In 1962 Edward R. Bartlett and Arlene Bartlett are listed as owning and residing at 12 Whitman St. The Bartletts had negotiated an $11,800 mortgage to purchase the house. There were no other documents available pertaining to their purchase of the house. Edward Bartlett was listed as a truck driver for Walla Walla Produce and Arlene Bartlett was listed as working part-time at the Milton-Freewater Elks Club and later part time at the Black Angus Restaurant. Edward R. Bartlett gave a Quit Claim Deed to Arlene M. Bartlett on July 9, 1974. In the 1975 City Directory Arlene and Susie Bartlett, a student at Wa-Hi, are listed as living at 12 Whitman St., but Edward, now working for Ernie Buttice, a contractor, was then living at 415 N. 4th. On April 14, 1975 Arlene M. Bartlett sold 12 Whitman St. to Stephen Towery and Suzanne Towery for $22,500. Stephen Towery is the Adult Services Librarian at the Walla Walla Public Library and Suzanne Towery teaches at Touchet High School.

Construction of the House:

The Walla Walla County Assessor’s records give 1900 as the build date for 12 Whitman St. Grant and Alice Copeland were the first residents listed at this address house and were shown there in the 1900-01 City Directory. Grant Copeland purchased the land for this house in 1898, so construction could have occurred in 1898, 1899, or 1900.  Since there were no recorded building permits until 1907, this researcher suggests that the date be listed as “circa 1899.

Resources used for this research:

Penrose Library Northwest Archives, Whitman College

Pioneer Title Co. documents for this property

Walla Walla City Directories in the Walla Walla Public Library and Penrose Library Archives

Sanborn Fire Maps

Walla Walla County Assessor’s Files

Stephen Towery, current owner

Katherine H. Weingart
Walla Walla 2020 Reserch Service
P.O. Box 1222, Walla Walla WA 99362
November 2005