History of 314 School Avenue, Walla Walla, WA


Full Legal Description

Beginning at a point in the west line of School Avenue, in the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 22 in Township 7 North, of Range 36 east of the Willamette Meridian; which point is 115 feet south, measured along said west line of School Avenue from the point of its intersection with the south line of East Alder Street; thence west, parallel to the west line of School Avenue, a distance of 5 feet; thence west, parallel to the south line of East Alder Street, a distance of 57.27 feet; thence south, parallel to the west line of School Avenue, a distance of 60 feet; thence east, parallel to the south line of East Alder Street, a distance of 157.27 feet to a point in the west line of School Avenue, thence north, along said west line of School Avenue, a distance of 65 feet to the point of beginning.

Abbreviated Legal Description

65 feet on west side School Avenue in SW ¼ SW ¼ Section 22-7-36; Parcel 360722330078

Title History

Washington Territory was created in 1853.  The new legislature created Walla Walla County in 1854, which stretched from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the crest of the Rocky Mountains in the present states of Washington, Idaho and Montana.  In 1855, a treaty council was held on the banks of Mill Creek at the present site of Walla Walla to purchase land from the Indians.  The Yakamas, Cayuse and Walla Wallas were dissatisfied with the treaties and war followed.  Missionaries, former French-Canadian employees of the Hudson Bay Company trading post at Wallula, and soldiers at the military Fort Walla Walla were the primary European occupants of the area prior to 1859, when it was opened for settlement.  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, acquired all of the land in this area from the Cayuse and Walla Walla Indian tribes.

Walla Walla was originally laid out by County Surveyor H. H. Case in 1859, before its formal incorporation as a city in 1862, as a one-quarter mile square with its eastern side centered on the point where Main Street crossed Mill Creek (at roughly the point where it does now).  The City of Walla Walla received a Trustee Town site from the U. S. Government that consisted of 80 acres, issued on July 20, 1869 by the Vancouver, W. T. District Land Office.  Main Street originally followed the old Nez Perce Indian Trail.  Consequently, the streets leading off of it were moved eastward, which gave Walla Walla its peculiar street pattern with the three-street intersection at Palouse, Boyer and Main Streets.  To the original plat, additional parcels were annexed from time to time, usually bearing the name of the landowner of record at the time the additions were made.  This was not the case with the parcel on which eventually the house at 314 School Avenue was built.

A Warranty Deed from John and Margarette A. Sheets to Olivia F. Pond was filed August 27, 1882 for $400.  John Sheets had arrived in Walla Walla County in 1859, settling in Dry Creek where the Mullan Road crossed the creek (and where present Highway 125 crosses Dry Creek).  Bancroft’s Hand-Book Almanac for the Pacific States, San Francisco, 1864, and the Washington Historical Quarterly, 1913, list Sheets as a Walla Walla County Commissioner, having been elected in 1862, and serving through 1865.  He is recorded in Lyman’s History of Walla Walla County, 1901, as Justice of the Peace for Dry Creek.  He amassed considerable property in the city of Walla Walla, where he died in 1884.

A Warranty Deed from John and Margarett A. Sheets (several different spellings for Margaret were noted on various documents) to Charles Besserer for $200 was filed October 4, 1882.  Born in Germany, Besserer was affiliated with several local newspapers, including The Union-Journal.

A second Warranty Deed from John and Margarett A. Sheets for $225 in favor of Charles Besserer was filed October 25, 1882.  A Quit Claim Deed was filed April 12, 1883 from John and Margaret A. Sheets in favor of Charles Besserer for $250.  A second Warranty Deed, John and Margaret A. Sheets to Olivia F. Pond for $450 to “release and forever quit claim to said Olivia F. Pond, her heirs and assigns” was filed October 12, 1883.

On September 9, 1885, a Warranty Deed for $70 was filed from Margaret A. Sheets to David Yates.

A Release of Mortgage, William B. Symmes of New York City, New York County and New York State from Herman H. Hill of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, was filed March 6, 1886.

A Warranty Deed for $1,000 from Olivia F. Pond, unmarried, to H. H. Hill was filed July 18, 1889.

A Quit Claim Deed from Charles and Anna Giles to Carson C. Carr was filed January 11, 1899 for $5; that same day a Warranty Deed from Herman H. Hill, unmarried, to Charles Giles for $600 was filed.

A Deed/Indenture from David and Mary S. Yates to Carson C. Carr for $700 was filed April 15, 1899, indicating that the property was free from all encumbrances except $4.05 in taxes owing for 1898.

A Warranty Deed from Carson C. Carr, an unmarried man, to brothers Charles Brock and William Brock, farmers, for $900 was filed July 2, 1901.

Another Mortgage, filed January 28, 1904, was granted from Brocks to George Delany for $111.70.

A Warranty Deed from Charles Brock, a bachelor and William Brock, a bachelor to William Retzer for $2,000 was filed December 16, 1905.  William (Wilhelm) and his brother George were co-proprietors of the Senate Saloon, and William was a director of Betz Brewery.

A Warranty Deed from William and Louisa Retzer to Herman E. Angermann for $2,000 was filed August 27, 1906.  A Warranty Deed from Herman E. Angermann to Orlando M. Godfrey for $3,800 was filed April 1, 1909.  A Deed/Indenture was granted from Orlando M. and Hattie M. Godfrey to John Grivette for $6,000, filed July 11, 1910.  (Mary Meeker, head researcher for Walla Walla 2020, reported that the 1909 Ogle plat map shows O. M. Godfrey owning a 300 x 345.9-foot lot at East Alder and School Avenue.  There were platted additions nearby, but the parcel currently defined as 314 School Avenue was not platted in 1909.)

A Warranty Deed from John Grivette, a divorced man to Henry Esmieu for $1,000 was filed June 9, 1919.  A Warranty Deed from Henry and Gabrielle Esmieu to Zephyrin Chabre, a widower, for $10 was filed October 3, 1919.

The next document on file is a Certificate of Water Right, State of Washington to Zephryn Chabre (frequently noted variant spellings of owners’ names occurs with Mr. Chabre) for use of waters from Garrison Creek for irrigation was granted June 30, 1929.

An Agreement for Deed from Zephyrin Chabre, a widower, to Everett and Edith I. McDonald for $2,100 was filed July 14, 1931.  Everett McDonald (consistently spelled MacDonald in City Directories) was a plaster contractor whose business operated out of his home, listed as E. Alder RD 6.  On September 30, 1932, a Notice of Lis Pendens was filed, J. R. Fuller, plaintiff vs. Everett and Edith I. McDonald and Walla Walla Lumber Company, defendants, for $2,500, plus interest, costs, attorney fees and all water rights.  Two weeks later, October 17, 1932, a Declaration of Homestead, Everett and Edith I. McDonald to The Public was filed, asserting that they were residing on the premises described as a home, that they had never before made a homestead application, and that the value of the premises over and above mortgages against same was $1,000.  Despite this, on October 23, 1934 a Sheriff’s Deed, Earl K. McInroe, Sheriff of Walla Walla County against Everett and Edith I. McDonald in favor of J. R. Fuller for $3,115.97 was filed.  As of 1933, there were no further listings for Everett and Edith McDonald (MacDonald) in City Directories.

A Warranty Deed from J. R. and Hazel B. Fuller to Gordon and Marjorie Matthews for $10 and other good and valuable consideration was filed January 2, 1936.  Gordon Matthews was listed in City Directories as a realtor.

A Warranty Deed filed April 23, 1936 transferred the parcel from Gordon and Marjorie Matthews to M. A. and Jessie A. Davis.  Mr. Davis was a farmer, residing at 1900 E. Alder, RD 4, farther east on Alder than this property.

A Warranty Deed filed December 3, 1943 from M. A. and Jessie A. Davis transferred the property to Charles F. and Mary Rader for $10 and other valuable consideration.  Charles Rader is described in Rader family ancestry records as a conductor on the Walla Walla Valley Railroad Company.  Although Charles and Mary Rader left Walla Walla in 1946 and moved to Grandview, there are no documents to indicate when or to whom they sold the property at School Avenue and East Alder Street.  The next sequential document is a 1960 mortgage to Floyd and Maralta Osborne; there is no mention of the Raders in any of the documents relative to the Osborne years.

Walter J. Greiser filed a Notice of Claim of Lien for Materials October 7, 1960.  A Release of Lien, Walter J. Greiser, for materials furnished to Floyd E. Osborne was filed October 18, 1960.  Floyd Osborne was the head electrician at the Washington State Penitentiary.

A Statutory Warranty Deed filed May 29, 1961, transferred the parcel at 314 School Avenue (which included a house by that time; see Construction of Building) from Floyd E. and Maralta L. Osborne to Raymond and Jeanne D. Eiffert for $10 and other valuable consideration.  Ray Eiffert was a buyer at Gardner Department Store, and Jeanne Eiffert worked in the former photo studio that currently houses Congregation Beth Israel at 1202 East Alder.  A Quit Claim Deed, Raymond and Jeanne D. Eiffert to Walla Walla County for $1,075 was filed April 19, 1979.  On December 21, 1989, a Deed of Personal Representative was filed, designating Jeanne D. Eiffert as personal representative of the estate of Raymond Eiffert, deceased.

Jeanne D. Eiffert submitted an application to the City of Walla Walla for an outside utility agreement (City domestic sewer); Page 2 of this document is missing so the date could not be determined.

By Statutory Warranty Deed filed February 5, 2010, Jeanne D. Eiffert sold the parcel to Stephen E. Wilen for $10 and other good and valuable consideration.

Construction of Building

The house at 314 School Avenue was constructed to a 1953 design by the Bellevue, WA firm of Mithun & Nesland.  The design was one of two basic plans submitted for the then-new residential development of Surrey Downs, just south of downtown Bellevue, which architect Omer Mithun (1918 – 1983) had been commissioned to develop for the first phase of building, between 1953 and 1954.  Harold J. Nesland, a former student of Mithun’s at the University of Washington, had a brief partnership with his former architecture professor before establishing a successful career on his own in Bellevue.

Mithun obtained his architectural degree from the University of Minnesota, and a degree in Naval Architecture from the University of Michigan.  He worked for the Seattle architectural firm of Naramore, Bain, Brady & Johanson (now NBBJ, the architects of Whitman’s Cordiner Hall), before establishing his own architectural practice in Bellevue in 1949.  He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and was a professor of architecture at the University of Washington from 1947 until 1982.

In 1990, after Mithun’s death, the firm moved to Seattle.  Today, known simply as Mithun (with a – stress mark over the “u”, presumably to denote the correct pronunciation, Mithoon), it is one of Seattle’s largest architectural firms.  A second office is located in San Francisco.

The prototype house in Surrey Downs (extant) was the featured “Five Star” home in the September 1958 issue of Better Homes& Gardens magazine.  For a few dollars, one could purchase a full set of working plans for any “Five Star” home and build it.

314 School Avenue was built in 1959 by Floyd Osborne.  Marilyn Osborne Day stated that her father could do anything, and he built the house at 314 School Avenue “because we owned the property, and to give him something to do.”  It was never intended to be a residence for the Osborne family, and in fact remained vacant for two years after completion.

Jeanne and the late Ray Eiffert were the first and only other owners of the house, which she occupied until age 94, when, in October 2009, she listed it for.  While many things had to be updated, repaired or removed, the Eifferts had not seriously “remuddled” their home, and by default had maintained its unique mid-century modern attributes over the half century they (she) occupied it.  Mid-century modern homes, many unsympathetically remodeled over the decades, have come full circle, and currently are in much demand, especially by younger homebuyers.  314 School Avenue is certainly an important contribution to, and one of the finest examples in Walla Walla of, the modest mid-century modern style of residential architecture.  It was featured in the May 2012 issue of Lifestyles magazine, published by the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.  An article on Surrey Downs residential community in Bellevue, WA, written by the current owner of 314 School Avenue and Walla Walla 2020 researcher, was featured in the Spring 2013 issue of Atomic Ranch magazine.


Whitman Archives

Lyman’s History of Walla Walla County, 1901

City Directories, various years

Mountain View Cemetery Records

Bennett, Robert A., Walla Walla: Portrait of a Western Town, 1804 – 1899, Pioneer Press, 1980


Oregon News, University of Oregon

Historylink.org (J. K. Edmiston)

Rochat-Berney letters, May 1898 (J. K. Edmiston)

United States Department of the Interior: National Register of Historic Places (J. K. Edmiston)

Washington Supreme Court Reports, V. 20 (J. K. Edmiston)

Bancroft’s Hand-Book Almanac for the Pacific States, San Francisco, 1864 (John Sheets)

Washington Historical Quarterly, 1913 (John Sheets)

Descendants of William Rader, Researcher: Linda Kracke, 2007

Mary Meeker, Head Researcher, Walla Walla 2020