History of 124 Whitman Street, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description (abbreviated):

Lots 1 and 2 in Block N in Roberts Addition to the City of Walla Walla, Washington, according to the Official Plat thereof of record in Office of the Auditor of Walla Walla County, Washington, in Book A of Plats at Page 21.

Title History:

Walla Walla was originally laid out by surveyor H.H. Chase in 1859, even before its formal incorporation as a city in 1862, as a one quarter mile square oriented N-S, E-W and 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.

124 Whitman is part of Roberts Ad dition. A.B. Roberts came to Walla Walla in 1859 from Portland and claimed a large section of land south of Main St. where among things, he raised fruit trees, having brought grafted trees with him from Portland. Roberts Addition was platted on January 20, 1871.

The first recorded transaction was a mortgage for 124 Whitman together with two adjoining lots from Roberts to S.S. and Francis Coston on Dec. 12, 1868 for $700. Not long after that, the Costons returned the property to Roberts for $700. On Dec. 10, 1873 Roberts declared bankruptcy. The next transaction was a sheriff’s sale (the sheriff was B.W. Griffin) at which John Bryant bought the land for $275 in 1873. Interestingly, in Sept. 1931 there was a Sheriff’s Deed filed to clean up the title from that sale. Several visits to the Superior Court were needed 58 years later!

On March 14,1876 John and Viretta Bryant sold to George Reed an d Phillip Hawley for $200. The next transaction was from Reed and Hawley to J.D. and Ella Viola Woodworth on Dec. 27, 1876 for $125. The parcel transferred up to this point would have been lots 3 & 4 in addition to the present 1 & 2. The Woodworths then sold the four lots to Victor Shaffter on Sept. 18, 1879 for $500. Shaffter is listed in the 1900-01 City Directory as residing at 124 Whitman, so he must have built the first house on this property. No building permits were required until 1907 so the only documentation for this first house was the microfilmed fire map for 1905 in the Northwest Archives in the Whitman Library (see the attached copy). Listed as “boarders” (i.e., renters) at 124 Whitman from the 1900-01, 1904 and 1905 City Directories are Charles A. and Agnes Halter. (Both Halters and Shaffters are listed at this address in the 1900-01 City Directory). In 1906 Shaffter deeded what must be the current property (lots 1 and 2) to Charles A. and Agnes Halter in 1906 for a stated price of $1 and subsequent listings in the City Directories name the Halters as owners of the house. Charles A. Halter is listed as Albert and then “Charles” from 1905 on — the biographical information indicates that Albert and Charles are the same person. He was listed as either a carpenter or contractor in several city directories from 1900-1920. The 1908 City Directory gave the assessed value of the property as $2250.

As already mentioned, the dwelling at 124 Whitman on the Sanford Fire Map of 1905 does not match the more recent Fire Map. (See the attached drawing of 1905 house.) Because no building permits were issued before 1907, information about the demise of the first house and whether any of it was incorporated into the second house isn’t available. The “outbuildings” are also different in the drawings of both houses. The current house appears to have been built by the Halters around 1916 (county assessor’s records) . On Sept.1, 1919 the Halters sold the house for $5500 (earnest money was $1000) to Elmer and Emma Richmond, who were farmers. Carol Angell of Walla Walla is their granddaughter and confirms that the current house replaced an earlier structure.

The Richmonds were issued a building permit on Sept. 27, 1919 for “finishing house inside” to be done by S.T. Gore, a contractor, for $2000. It isn’t until the 1921-22 City Directory that the Richmonds are listed as residents at 124 Whitman and the assessed value is $16200 (it would seem that this is an error because other properties were four-figures – so $6200 would be more realistic). According to Carol Angell, the finishing of the house included elegant furnishings with silk drapes and marble floors in the bathrooms and kitchen. During World War II when there were troops stationed out at what is now the airport area, there was a housing shortage for women who accompanied the troops. To help out, the Richmonds turned their gara ge into a duplex which is still used as a rental property. The Richmonds lived there until they died in 1943 and 1944.

A.J. and Esther Kimball, also farmers, bought the house on Nov. 11, 1944 for $8000. Mrs. Kimball lived there as widow for many years. She was the grandmother of Steve Kimball, who is the CEO of Baker-Boyer Bank. In April of 1960 the house was sold to R. Lloyd and Shirley Tyler, who owned State Hardware, 115 E. Main. The recorded price was $12,828.23. On May 31, 1990, the Tylers sold to Donald and Lena Johnson for $90,000. Lena Johnson subsequently married W. Douglas Rea as indicated by a “Quit Claim” deed to create community property in 1995. W. Douglas and Lena Rea sold to David and Holly Gould in March of 2000 for $180,900.

Construction of the House:

The current house is the second house to be built at 124 Whitman. Record of residence in Walla Walla City Directories is first listed in the 1900-01 edition. Victor Shaffter had the land for several years before building around 1900 – he acquired lots 1,2,3, and 4 in 1879. The current property is lots 1 & 2. Charles A. and Agnes Halter were “boarders” (renters) from 1900 until they purchased the house in 1906. County assessor records show that around 1916 the current house was built by the Halters. The house was bought and finished on the inside in 1919 by Elmer and Emma Richmond. A.J. and Esther Kimball bought the house in 1944. Mrs. Kimball was soon widowed and lived there alone for many years. R. Lloyd and Shirley Tyler bought the house in 1960 selling it in 1990 to Donald and Lena Johnson. W. Douglas and Lena (Johnson) Rea sold the house in 2000 to David and Holly Gould.


Katherine Weingart
Walla Walla 2020 Research Service
PO Box 1222, Walla Walla WA 99362
December, 2000