History of 617 South Park Street, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description:

Beginning at a point in the Eastern line of Park Street in the City of Walla Walla, Washington, which point is 120 feet Southerly, measured along said Easterly line of Park Street, from the point of intersection thereof with the Southerly line of Craig Street in said City; and running thence North 60 degrees 10 minutes East 150 feet; thence South 29 degrees 50 minutes east 50 feet; thence South 60 degrees 10 minutes West 150 feet to a point in said Easterly line of Park Street; thence North 29 degrees 50 minutes West,along said Easterly line of Park Street,  a distance of 50 feet to the point of the beginning; being the Southerly 30 feet of Lots 4, 5 and 6 and the Northerly 20 feet of Lot 7 in Block 22 of Roberts’ Addition to the City of Walla Walla, according to the official plat thereof.

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 with its eastern side centered on the point where Main Street crossed Mill Creek (at roughly the point where it does now). Main Street originally followed the old Nez Perce Indian Trail. Consequently the streets leading off of it were at right angles to it, and were not in a north-south orientation. This was corrected as the city 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 with the name of the land owner of record at the time the additions were made.

A. B. Roberts came to Walla Walla from Portland, Oregon in 1859 and immediately purchased a large farm site just south of Main Street for $250 from Tom Hughs. He fenced his new property and put up a  canvas house which allowed him to hold it until the government surveyed it in 1860. He had brought some grafted fruit trees from Portland and was able to sell them in 1860 for $1.00 apiece. He realized there was money to be made in fruit trees and so engaged extensively in the nursery business as well as real estate. Roberts Addition was platted by A. B. Roberts and Martha E. Roberts on January 20,1871 (Plat Book A, Pages 21 and 22, Walla Walla County Auditor’s Office, Walla Walla County Courthouse).

Following a legal action against A. B. Roberts and several others Burrell W. Griffin, Sheriff of Walla Walla County, Washington Territory, gave a Sheriff’s Deed to the plaintiff and highest bidder, Thomas Ronan, for $1185 on February 12, 1874. The deed included this parcel as well as numerous others. In 1881 Thomas Ronan was listed as the Singer Sewing Machine agent at 11 First Street, also his residence at that time. On October 22, 1877 Thomas Ronan sold several parcels to George D. and Demelda Ann Goodwin, farmers who lived on the adjacent property at 601 Park Street. In 1883-84 George was listed as a chop mill proprietor and gardener at the same address.  In 1887 Mr. Goodwin sold seven lots to John Schaefer for $1400. Mr Schaefer was a cabinet maker at Whitehouse Crimmons and Company who lived on the southwest corner of Craig Street and Park Street. On August 6, 1901 John Schaefer’s widow, Hermiene Schaefer, sold this single lot to Nettie M. Jones for $400. Nettie Jones was not listed in local city directories. When she sold this property to Daniel G. and Luella Ferguson on January 12, 1905 she was in Illinois. Mr. Ferguson  was a farmer who lived at 323 E. Birch in 1905. On April 17, 1905 he sold this place to Christian and Johanna Dahlmer for $650. Mr. Dahlmer, a farmer, lived at 223 W. Chestnut and 417 W. Chestnut through 1912. Starting in 1908 Leona Rinehart lived at 617 S. Park Street. On July 15, 1912 Mr. Dahlmer sold this house to Leona Rinehart for $2100. She was unmarried and worked as a teacher until 1924 when she was listed as an artist. In 1914 Isadora Moats, a music teacher and widow of Joseph, moved into the house with Miss Rinehart. Miss Rinehart died on June 22, 1924. C. O. Rinehart was appointed her executor and Isadora Moats was the residual legatee. In 1926 C. O. Rinehart and Isadora Moats sold by contract to Orell B. Davis for $1350. However, Mrs. Moats continued to live in the house at least through 1941. There are no city directories for 1942-45. She is not listed in the 1946 directory. In 1947 Orell B. Davis completed payments to Rinehart and Moats. In January 7,1953 Delbert Edward and Meta C. Thom purchased the house from Mr. Davis. Mr. Thom was a painter and had lived in the house since 1948. The Thoms promptly sold the property to Claude and Alma Gray. Claude worked for the Union Bulletin, as editor when he retired in 1970, and Alma was a photographer who operated Vitart Studio. They lived next door at 623 S. Park from 1951-1961. The Grays rented the house at 617 S. Park in 1954-55 to Lou and Pat Gehrett, in 1957 to Clinton and Stella Hamilton, in 1958 to Laurel and Lora Lee Porter, in 1960-61 to Charles F. and Mary Jungman, in 1963 to R. Thomas and Mary Jovan. In 1964 the Grays gave a contract to LaVelle Hinkle for $8500. The contract was returned to the Grays in 1966. Meanwhile in 1964 the house was rented to John W. and Lule Mae Tocco, in 1965 to Frank D. Johnson, in 1966 to John E. Moses. In 1967 the house was vacant and the Grays attempted to sell it to Daniel L. and Susan Lemieux for $7000. Mr. Lemieux was a warehouse man at Garrett Freight Lines and lived at 617 S. Park Street until 1970. On July 15, 1970 the Grays again sold it, this time to Stephen R. and Kayjean Paul for $6750. Mr. Paul was an employee of Safeway Eastgate. They lived in the house from 1971 through 1975. On January 20, 1976 they sold the place to Frank E. and Agnes E. Chichester for $9812. The Chichesters were a retired couple who lived nearby at 321 Craig Street. Meanwhile, Michael Harvey lived there in 1977, Robert C. Henzel in 1978 and 1979. On March 21, 1979 The Chichesters sold it to Charles and Vivian Yelliot, local realtors and owners of Jefferis Insurance Agency, for $22,000. The Yelliots lived on rural acreage up Dry Creek south of Dixie. On October 2, 1979 the Yelliots sold to Ronald E. and Brenda M. Cate for $38,250. Ron Cates was a furnace installer for College Place Heating. The Cates lived there in 1981-82. In 1983 Stan Walkup lived there, in 1984-1985 Dave Klopfenstein lived there, in 1986 it was vacant, in 1987 Verta Glor lived there. It was “unlisted” in 1988 and 1990. On July 7, 1990 Ron Cate gave a quit claim deed to Brenda Cate Gordon as a part of a divorce settlement. Brenda and Russell Gordon lived there in 1991-92. Russell was an assistant math professor at Whitman College and Brenda was a social worker at Walla Walla General Hospital then. On December 19, 1994 they sold the house to Edward W. and Elaine P. Moreen for $70,000. The Moreens were not listed in the city directories of the time. On September 11, 1995 the Moreens sold the house to the Associated Relocator Management Company for $78,500. On December 8, 1995  Associated sold to Gina Massoni for $73,500. She lives in the house at the time of this report in 2001.

Construction of the Building:

This is a lot that was created from parts of four adjacent lots. The lot and house were frequently owned by neighbors but frequently rented. Judging from the sale prices ($650 in 1905 and $2100 in 1912) it probably was built while Christian and Johanna Dahlmer owned the property. The Sanborn firemap showed that there was no house there in 1905, even though the Walla Walla County Assessor lists a construction date of 1900. Building permits were first required in 1907. The only permit listed for C. Dahlmer was for his residence at 417 W. Chestnut. City directories show that Leona Rinehart lived at Fern and Pleasant in 1907 and at 617 S. Park in 1908. Therefore, I assume that Dahlmers probably started construction of this house in 1906, with Leona Rinehart moving in as the first resident sometime in 1907.


Bennett, Robert A., Walla Walla  A Town Built to be a City 1804-1899, Pioneer Press,  Walla Walla, 1980, page 46-48,76.

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
June, 2001