History of 703 University Street, Walla Walla, WA


Property Description:

All of lot 12 and the west 16 feet of Lot 13 in Block 1 of Isaacs’ Park Addition to the City of Walla Walla, according to the official plat thereof of record in the office of the auditor of Walla Walla County, Washington, in volume C of plats at page 37.

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.

The first title company evidence of ownership of this property is the sale of 26.81 acres by John Haley to William and Elizabeth Patten for $100 on May 23, 1863. In 1866 the Pattens sold 29 parcels of land including this to Henry P. Isaacs for $2000. Isaacs had been born in Philadelphia in 1822 and came west to California during the gold rush. In 1858 he built a flour mill at Fort Colville to be followed in 1862 by the North Pacific Flour Mill in Walla Walla on the present site of Wildwood Park. Subsequently he built flour mills in Boise and Middleton, Idaho, Prescott, Washington, and Wasco, Oregon. W. D. Lyman described him as “the foremost miller on the Pacific coast.” In 1864 he started experimenting with growing many varieties of fruit and vegetables in the Walla Walla valley, including one of the earliest vineyards. He was a big “booster” of Walla Walla, encouraging rail lines in the valley. He served in the 1885-1886 territorial legislature and introduced the bill to establish the state penitentiary in  Walla Walla. He and his wife Lucy built one of the earliest houses in this area, now designated 100 Brookside Drive. According to Penny Andres, the Isaacs built a small adobe house in 1865 and then incorporated those walls into their Queen Anne mansion in 1886. Isaacs also dealt in real estate and platted several additions to the City of Walla Walla. He and his heirs owned this property for nearly 40 years with numerous transactions involving loans and water rights. He died in 1900 and his widow and children transferred this property to the H. P. Isaacs Company in 1903 after which they had it platted as Isaacs’ Park Addition in 1904.

In 1905 they sold this site to William R. Paxton for $840. In 1906 Paxton sold this lot and 90 feet of an adjacent lot to Dora Stanley for $2000. In 1907 Dora Stanley and William Paxton sold this property (but not the adjacent lot) to Thomas S. Johnston for $1000. In 1908 Johnston sold it to Vina Perkins for $4000. Vina and her husband Lyman lived here  until his death in 1914 and her death in 1937. Vina died intestate with her sole heirs being daughters Linnie Ginn and Olive Chitty. Mrs. Olive E. Chitty, a saleswoman at Val Jensen’s department store, lived in the house in 1937-1939. Linnie and George Ginn,  a farmer, lived in it in 1941. The sisters sold the house on June 20, 1942 to Robert and Clara M. Wentsch for the stated amount of $10. On October 15, 1942 Mr. Wentsch sold this property to Robert E. and Lydia A. Allen for $3000. After Robert’s death in 1949 Lydia worked as a nurse and continued to live in the house, purchasing her husband’s half interest from his estate in 1951. She lived there until her death in 1971. Her estate sold the property to Jack A. and Sharann R. Bean for $8500 in 1971. The house was vacant in 1971. In 1972 the Beans sold it to Wallace R. and Xenia H. Warwick for $17,000. Wallace was the owner of Lauter’s Magnavox TV and Xenia worked as a clerk with the Corps of Engineers. In 1977 they sold it to Eric D. and Janice M. Snellman for $34,500. Eric was an employee of Hallco Mfg. In 1981 the Snellmans sold to M. Keith and Nancy Tavelli Farrington for $56,800. Keith was a professor of sociology and Nancy was the associate director of housing at Whitman College. In 1988 Farringtons sold this house to Mary Lee and George P. Stallings, Jr. for $58,000. In 1989 Stallings sold for assumption of debt only to James N. and Bonnie K. Brush. Jim worked for Grassi Refrigeration, Pepsi Cola, and Blue Mountain Refrigeration. Bonnie worked for Family Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center. In 1999 they sold to James L. and Nancy T. Beekman who live there currently.

Construction of the House:

The Walla Walla County Assessor’s records have a building date of 1896. This is clearly incorrect because H. P. Isaacs did not plat the area until 1904 and the 1905 fire map shows that there was no house on this lot at that time. Since William Paxton bought this lot in June 1905 for $840 and sold it to Thomas S. Johnston in January 1907 for $1000 and Johnston sold it in 1908 for $4000 Thomas Johnston apparently constructed the house in early 1907 before building permits were required. The first  available building permit records start in September 1907. In October 1909 Lyman Perkins obtained a permit to “add to dwelling” at 703 University for $175.


Andres, Penny, Walla Walla Her Historic Homes, 1991, page 18.

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

Lyman, Professor W.D., An Illustrated History of Walla Walla County 1901.

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
September, 2001