History of 701 Boyer Avenue, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description:

Lot 11 and Westerly 25.25 feet of Lot 12 in Block 3 of the Amended Plot of Isaacs Third Addition to the City of Walla Walla, Washington according to the official plat thereof of record in the Office of the Auditor of Walla Walla County, Washington, in Book C of Plats at Page 19.

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. The bronze statue on the corner of Third and Rose of Great Chief PeoPeoMoxMox of the Walla Walla Tribe commemorates that treaty signing. The treaty was 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 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. 701 Boyer is located in Isaacs Third Addition, one of several additions in the central part of Walla Walla named for Henry P. Isaacs and Lucie Isaacs. The Isaacs figure into this property as real estate developers and also because 701 Boyer was affected by the development of Walla Walla’s water system. The right to utilize “subterranean” water is recorded in documents in 1886 and 1896 pertaining to 701 Boyer when the Walla Walla Water Company was founded by H.P. Isaacs and his son J.C. Isaacs. In addition, Isaacs was ins! trumental in the development of Walla Walla as a wheat growing area, for building numerous flour mills throughout the Northwest as well as Walla Walla (the North Pacific Flouring Mill was located in what is now Wildwood Park), and establishing trade for that wheat in Asian countries.

The first available recorded transaction involving 701 Boyer was on January 20, 1864 when William H. Patten and his wife Elizabeth A. Patten sold an 80 acre parcel for $2000 in gold coin to Henry P. and Lucie Isaacs. This transaction did not include four acres previously sold to Isaacs by the Pattens. On that deed there is a notation that Elizabeth A. Patten “does not join in the execution of this instrument.” This matter reappeared on March 22, 1901 following the death of Isaacs (who died intestate in 1900 – he had no will). An indenture was filed by the Patten heirs stating that there was a fatal defect in the 1866 deed because Elizabeth Patten had not signed it. Settling this situation required the approval of all of the Patten and Isaacs heirs and then a City Ordnance passed by the City Council regarding Isaacs Third Addition in which the term “amended” was added to the legal description.

On September 9, 1903 the Isaacs heirs sold to Bessie I. Savage and George M. Savage lots 4 and 11 in Block 3 of Isaacs Third Addition. On February 25, 1904 the Savages sold lot 11 to Sadie K. Caswell and R.B. Caswell for $600. Although it appears that the house was built in 1904, the 1905 City Directory is the first listing for the Caswells at 701 Boyer. Russell B. Caswell was the proprietor of Wholesale and Retail Cigars and Tobacco at 104 Main.

On April 14, 1909 the house was bought by Mattie Martin, widow of Benjamin Martin, for “consideration $10.” At this point the legal description has attached to it ” the westerly 25.25 feet of Lot 12.” There were no documents available for this property pertaining to the acquisition of that additional piece from lot 12. Mattie Martin resided at 701 Boyer from 1909-1914, according to City Directories. There was no evidence in City Directories of residency from 1915-1919, although the house appears to have been owned by H.H. Turner, a Baker-Boyer Bank employee, and Elma Turner who on October 4, 1919 filed a Quit Claim Deed to James C. Cunningham and Sarah A. Cunningham for this property. Cunningham was the President-Manager of Union Trust Co. of Walla Walla. The Cunninghams lived at 701 Boyer from 1919-1924.

On April 14, 1924 the Cunninghams sold to Elmer Hill, Physician and Surgeon with an office in the Baker Building, and Bertha D. Hill for “consideration $10.” The Hills lived in the house until their deaths: Bertha Hill died in 1944 and Elmer Hill died in 1951. City Directories list Mildred Hill, later Mildred Olinger, as living at her parents’ home until the early 1950’s. She and her sister Helen Hill Boyer must have turned the house into apartments after their father’s death. A stairway in the downstairs living room was removed and an entrance to the upstairs apartments was built at the back of the house. It was the 1951-52 City Directory when names of residents in apartments first appeared. Several Whitman College faculty members lived there early in their careers. Mildred Hill Olinger and Helen Hill Boyer sold the house to Irene Nelson, a widow, for “consideration $10” on September 23, 1957. Mrs. Nelson con! tinued with the rental of the apartments as did subsequent owners.

On June 21, 1965 Shepard K. Linscott and Emma L. Linscott purchased the house for $23,500. Linscott was listed as a salesman for Walla Walla Realty and then Sherwood and Roberts real estate. No doubt he was one of the founders of the current firm of Linscott, Wylie and Blize. On August 13, 1970 the house was purchased by Richard M. Connell (Col.) and Betsy B. Connell for $29,800. Col. Connell was District Engineer for the Corps of Engineers. Their son Richard M. Connell, Jr. is listed as a student at West Point in the City Directory. On April 30, 1973 the Connells sold to James. D. Ervin and Beverly M. Erwin for $32,000. On December 12, 1979 James and Beverly Ervin sold the house to Scott G. Erwin and Jenny R. Erwin for “consideration $10.” Scott Erwin is listed as a wheat farmer and Jenny Erwin is listed as an RN at the VA Hospital. In the dissolution of their marriage in 1992, a Quit Claim Deed was filed by Scott E! rvin to Jenny Romine Ervin, valuing the house at $62,000. On June 19, 1996, Jenny Lou Romine, an unmarried individual, sold the house to Stephen S. Rapp and Sharon L. Kamara for $205,000. Sharon Kamara is the Executive Assistant to the Chief Technology Officer at Whitman College. In 2002, the assessed value was $231,400. In April of 2005, Rapp and Kamara sold the house to Ro-Mark Manufacturing Co., a California Corporation. The asking price of the house was $365,000. Penny and Mark Bingham, the owners of the corporation, plan to use the home for a bed and breakfast. They will convert the upstairs apartments into two suites, one their private living quarters and one for guests. The original stairway to the upstairs from the living room will be replaced. The Binghams had a bed and breakfast in Sacramento, California for ten years before moving to Walla Walla in 2005.

Construction of the House:

The County Assessor’s Office records give 1906 as the construction date for 701 Boyer. This research shows that that date is incorrect. The construction date of 701 Boyer is 1904. Sadie and R.B.Caswell bought the lot in February of 1904, providing plenty of time for construction in that year. Also, the house appears on the 1905 Sanborn Fire Map. The garage, an early carport design with no door or back wall, was added later although no building permits could be located for that construction.

Resources used:

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

Penrose Library Northwest Archives

Pioneer Title Co. documents for this property

Sanborn Fire Maps

Walla Walla City Directories

Walla Walla County Assessor’s files


Katherine Weingart
Walla Walla 2020 Research Service
P.O. Box 1222
Walla Walla WA 99362
August, 2005