History of 126-128 East Main Street, Walla Walla, WA


Property Description:

Abbreviated: Parcel A: 85 feet deep x 67.16 feet wide at the SW corner of Main and Spokane Streets plus an undivided half interest in an alley 12 feet wide in Walla Walla, Washington (NE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 20, Township 7, Range 36 EWM).

Parcel B: 30 feet x 100 feet, parking lot south of Parcel A.

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.

During 1862, A. J. Cain surveyed Cain’s Addition to the City (this survey was rerecorded on May 11, 1865, following a disastrous fire which destroyed most of the county’s earlier records). Cain’s Addition was adjacent to this property, which was often referred to as Cain’s homestead. There were many early legal transactions involving the Cains. On March 1, 1864  A. H. Reynolds acquired this and adjacent property by way of a Sheriff’s Deed for $1560. On March 15, 1864 he sold this property (plus 18 other parcels) to Emma R. Cain for $100. Both Dorsey S. Baker and John F. Boyer, early day bankers, gained financial interests in the property both by deed and by sheriff’s sale.

They each conveyed deeds for the property to Alexander Jay Anderson, Sr. (from the estate of Dorsey Baker on September 22, 1888 for $3423.33 and from John and Sarah Boyer on January 8, 1889 for a 33.3 feet x 180 feet parcel for $2000). Dr. Anderson was the first president of Whitman College and resided at 404 E. Main Street at this time. Dr. Anderson had received his education as a teacher at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. There he met Louisa Phelps who also was a teacher. When they came west they first settled in Forest Grove, Oregon where he ran the prep school for Pacific University. He received his PhD (hon.) from Pacific University  and his wife received her M.S. degree (hon.) from the University of Washington. Both the Andersons and several of their sons taught at University of Washington and Whitman College.  Their son George Page was in the first graduating class from Whitman in 1886 (Bennett, Vol. 1, page 118-119). Daughter Helen was part of “the Whitman College tennis crowd” in 1891 (Bennett, Vol. I, page 154). Their son Louis was a long-term professor of Greek and Latin at Whitman who married Dorsey Baker’s daughter Mabel. They subsequently built Anderson House (now Baker Faculty Center) on the edge of the campus. Louisa Anderson died in 1889, leaving her interest in this property to three of their five children, George P., Oliver P. and Helen H. Anderson. They each signed Quit Claim Deeds that same year to return their interests in the property to their father. In 1893 A. J. Anderson signed a Quit Claim Deed naming his only daughter, Helen, as the owner. She returned her interest to her father in 1894. Dr. Anderson had retired from the presidency of Whitman College in 1891, exhausted from the work of creating a new college and the loss of his wife. He returned to Seattle where he had been president of the University of Washington from 1877-1882. He supported himself by tutoring students since this was prior to the availability of a retirement benefit from any of his jobs. He died there in 1903.

On January 18, 1898 a Sheriff’s Deed against A. J. Anderson Sr. and the Mitchell, Lewis Staver Company was recorded to C.A. Leighton for $50, as the stated “whole price.” Mr. Leighton is not listed in any City Directory from this time. Just prior to this action, on December 3, 1897 C. A. Leighton’s sale of his interest in the property to Charles H. and Ella F. Willey was recorded for a quoted price of $1. The Willeys are not listed in any City Directory at this time. Mr. and Mrs. Willey sold this property to Joseph Tachi on April 25, 1902 for $1. Joseph Tachi came to Walla Walla in 1882 from Milan, Italy, only the third or fourth Italian to arrive here. He had $.25 when he arrived and worked very hard to “win a fortune out of market truck gardening by his own hands.” He and J. P. Kent owned “several valuable city business locations and suburban property rated to be worth $130,000.” (Bennett, Vol II, page 142-3). Mr. Tachi recorded a lease to Horton C. Gibson on April 25, 1903 for a 30’x80’ blacksmith shop at $15 a month rent.

On August 13, 1908 Mr. Tachi sold this property to Harry A. and Bertha C. Reynolds. Reynolds owned the property for 21 years before selling to John C. and Elizabeth Lyman on March 6, 1929 for $10. This deed was subject to a $30,000 mortgage in favor of Harry A. Reynolds payable in 10 years as well as a lease dated October 31,1925 between H. A. Reynolds and Diettrich Brothers which was to expire on October 31,1930. John was a physician in practice with Dr. E. L. Whitney in 1929. They lived at 548 University Street. Ten days later Dr. Lyman sold the property to the Enterprise Land Company (Bradley Young, pres.) for $10. On January 14, 1930 it was sold to the Continental Land Company for $1. During their ownership they signed a Party Wall Agreement with William F. and Bernice C. Rhoades regarding the shared wall between this property and the one to the west of it at 124 E. Main Street. R. R. Morrison, V.P. of Continental Land Company sold the property to Martha Losey as sole and separate property on November 17, 1953 for $70,000. In 1955 her husband, Jimmy D. Losey, M.D. opened a medical practice in College Place. On April 19, 1954 they sold this property to Aerie #26, Fraternal Order of Eagles for $10. On June 15, 1959 the Eagles sold it to William R. O’Rourke Jr. and Bernice A. O’Rourke for $75,000. Mr. O’Rourke was an heating and plumbing contractor who lived on RFD 3, Reser Road, at this time. Mr. and Mrs. O’Rourke sold the property on October 29, 1982 to Emil Wiessner Sr, Rosine Wiessner, his wife, Emil Jr., Harry and Shirlee Wiessner. In 1982 Emil Sr. was retired and living on Kendall Road and Harry was a student at Pacific University. In 1983 Emil Jr. was an optician living at his parents’ address. On March 15, 1996 Rosine Wiessner signed a Personal Representative Deed for Emil Wiessner’s estate to Emil Jr. and Harry. On October 29, 1998 a Personal Representative Deed was given from Rosine Wiessner’s estate to Emil Jr. and Harry. On December 3, 1998 Harry signed a Quite Claim Deed giving his interest in the property to Emil Wiessner Jr.  On February 5, 2001 Emil Wiessner, Jr. and Shirlee Wiessner signed a Warranty Deed selling the property to Leslie and Mary Peterson. The Petersons lived at 1415 Highland Road at this time.


On the 1884-1889 Sanborn Fire Maps this property is occupied by Tierney’s Feed Yard (Bennett, Vol 1, p.69). From  1890 to 1894 Staver and Walker are located on this site. They were agricultural implement dealers based in Seattle and Portland. The 1890 city directory has an 8 page catalog of items for sale by this firm. They are sometimes referred to as Mitchell, Lewis and Staver in the legal documents. A. J. Anderson, Sr. signed a lease with W. E. Mitchell of Portland  in 1891 for $70 in gold coin.  In 1902 Joseph Tachi signed a lease with Horton C. Gibson to operate a blacksmith shop at 128 East Main. The 1905 Fire Map shows a blacksmith/wagon shop on the corner with a harness shop and corral to the west of it. Mr. Gibson maintained this business at this location until 1909-10 when he moved to 11 South Spokane Street. In 1911-12 he moved to 18 South Spokane Street. He and his wife Nettie lived first at 622 Washington and then 636 Washington Street. In 1916-1917 he is listed at a teacher.

In 1910-11 the Malcolm McLean Grocery Company moved from the NE corner of Main and Colville Streets to the SW corner of Main and Spokane Streets where they had a thriving business that was considered the largest grocery store in Walla Walla at that time (Bennett, Vol. II, page 112-113). They employed 24 people and used 5-7 delivery wagons which were converted to trucks between 1910 and 1915. The business continued under this name until 1929-1931 . However 1925 was the last year it was owned by Mr. McLean. He sold the business to the Diettrich Brothers in 1925 and they operated it under the McLean name until 1931. The brothers operated another grocery store at 14 East Main starting in 1921 and used their own name at 126-128 East Main starting in 1931 until 1933.  They sold out to Safeway who occupied this space from 1935 to 1950. In 1951 it was vacant.

Starting in 1953 the portion of the building at #126 had a succession of tenants: Gas Heat of Walla Walla, Inc (1953-55), State Hardware (1956-57), Sherwin-Williams Paint Co. (1958-1971), vacant (1972), The Record Center (1973-1979), Brumbacks House of Music (1980-1996), Music Unlimited (1997-).

The corner portion of the building at #128 had the following businesses located in it: Kurts Decorative Service (1953-1961), vacant (1962-63), Dan Reeder Toys (1964-1968), Sassoon’s Merchandise (1969-1970), Dash and Dot Specialty Shop (1971-1973), General Pants [sic.] (1974), vacant (1975), Sassoon’s Discount Warehouse (1976-1978), Mary’s Craft Corner/Discount Center (1979-1981), McCoy’s Craft Village (1982-1997), vacant (1998), Fenton Stahl Gallery (1999-2001).

Construction of the Building:

It is often difficult to determine who built what and when with a property that has such a long commercial history. City directories did not have a street index until 1931. Prior to that the primary ways of locating buildings are by looking at old fire maps or panoramic maps in local histories, or by reading the classified business section of the pre-1931 city directories in hopes of seeing the address in question. The latter method located the McLean Grocery Company on this site. The file at the Assessor’s Office  claims a building date of 1925. However, the building permit file in the Whitman College Archives shows that Harry Reynolds took out a permit on June 16, 1909 to build a brick building at Spokane and Main Streets for $12,000. The builder was Bailey and Lambert. Since A. H. Reynolds owned this property at this time and his blacksmith tenant moved to a different location in 1909 we can confidently say that the first substantial building was constructed at this location at that time. The picture of the Malcolm McLean Grocery Company delivery cars in 1915 probably shows this building in the background (Bennett, Vol. II, page 113). Subsequent remodeling can only be imagined.


Bennett, Robert A., Walla Walla  A Town Built to be a City 1804-1899, Pioneer Press,  Walla Walla, 1980.

Bennett, Robert A., Walla Walla  A Town Built to be a City 1900-1919, Pioneer Press,  Walla Walla, 1982.

Edwards, G. Thomas. “Pioneer President.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, April, 1988, p. 65.

Building permits: Whitman College Penrose Library, Larry Dodd, Archivist

Sanborn Fire Maps: 1884-1905 (with updates until 1950)

Walla Walla City Directories: 1880-present (various publishers–not all years)

Mary E. Meeker
Walla Walla 2020 Research Service
PO Box 1222, Walla Walla WA 99362
April, 2001