History of 734 University Street, Walla Walla, WA


Legal Description

Lot 1 and the Easterly 10 feet of Lot 2 in Block 2 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 Book “C” of Plats at Page 37; situate in the City and County of Walla Walla, State of Washington.

Title History

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 quarter 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 bearing the name of the landowner of record at the time the additions were made. 734 University is located in Isaacs Park Addition, one of the several additions developed by Henry P. Isaacs and Lucie Isaacs in the center part of Walla Walla, as shown in the 1909 City Atlas.

The first recorded transaction involving 734 University was on May 23, 1863 when John Haley sold “all that portion of the SW 1/4 of section no. 21 in Township no. 7, County of Washington, Washington Territory” which was 26.81 acres “more or less” for “consideration $100.” The buyers were William H. Patten and Elizabeth A. Patten. Shortly thereafter on January 20, 1864 the Pattens sold the parcel to Henry P. Isaacs for $2000 in gold coin. On April 6, 1866 a larger section of 80 acres (which seems to have included the previous 26 acres) was sold by the Pattens to the Isaacs for an additional $2000. This transaction reappears on November 22, 1901 when the heirs of the Pattens and Isaacs dealt with an error in the description of the land and a “fatal defect” in the deed which had not been signed by Elizabeth Patten. It had only been signed by her husband, W.H. Patten. For $1.00 the heirs of the Pattens filed a quit-claim to the heirs of the Isaacs. On April 7, 1868 there is record of a mortgage of $5000 in favor of Dorsey S. Baker for the 80 acre piece which included this property and Isaacs Excelsior Flour Mill. Isaacs was influential in the development of Walla Walla as a wheat growing area. Lyman in his History of Walla Walla County states that Isaacs “demonstrated to the farmers that wheat could be produced profitably on the hills and uplands which in those early days had been given over to stock-raising.” He built numerous flour mills throughout the Northwest and “his knowledge of the manufacture and handling of flour became proverbial and he was recognized as an authority on all matters pertaining thereto.” He found markets for wheat in the Orient, especially China. The Isaacs and their son J.C Isaacs also founded the Walla Walla Water Company, providing Walla Walla with a reservoir, ditches, conduits and the possibility of irrigation of crops. The right to utilize “subterranean” water is included in documents in 1886 and 1896 pertaining to 734 University.

On July 6, 1903 the Isaacs heirs formed the H.P. Isaacs Company (H.P. had died in 1900 with no will) and the development of Isaacs Park Addition began. Its boundaries are from Isaacs Avenue on the north, Madison St. on the West, Boyer Avenue on the south and Division Street on the East, a parcel of 5.7 acres. On March 13, 1905 the H.P. Isaacs Company, a corporation, sold “all of Lot 1 and the east 10 feet of Block 2 of Isaacs Park Addition” to James Williams, a bachelor, for $720. On June 16, 1905, Williams took out a mortgage on the property in the amount of $1700, apparently for construction of the present house. He is listed in the 1905 City Directory as boarding at 322 E. Sumach. Later City Directories, beginning in 1908, list his residency at 734 University; his occupation is given as deputy county clerk, county clerk of the Superior Court and then deputy county treasurer. There is no 1906 City Directory but on November 16, 1906 James Williams and his wife Delia A.Williams obtained a further mortgage on the property for $2300. On August 16, 1913 the Williams sold the property to Amy F. Wilson, a widow, for $6500. On August 30, 1919 Mrs. Wilson sold the property for an undisclosed amount to Fred H. Lonneker and Fern F. Lonneker. In the 1920 City Directory, Lonneker is listed as a farmer. The Lonnekers sold the property to Samuel J. Smith and Nora S. Smith for an unstated amount on June 11, 1923. The Smiths were not listed in City Directories as residing at 734 University. Their address was listed as 104 Merriam in the 1923-24 and 1925-26 City Directories.

On September 21, 1925, the Smiths sold 734 University to Peter J. Henriksen and Mary Lyman Henriksen for $3800. The 1926-27 City Directory lists the Henriksens as residing at 734 University. Previously they had lived at 350 Palouse. Henriksen was the manager of Wadhams and Kerr Brothers Grocery Co. On March 31, 1927 James L. Jones and Eleanor C. Jones bought the house from the Henriksens for an undisclosed amount. The Jones had previously lived at 541 Locust and lived at 734 University for 32 years. James Jones was employed for many years as secretary-treasurer of Davis-Kaser Home Furnishings, located at 20 W. Alder in the 1920 City Directory. He retired in 1958. At that time, the City Directory reported that Jones owned a 1952 Packard and a 1947 Dodge, a rather unusual City Directory piece of information given in the 1950’s. On August 7, 1959 the Jones sold the house to Warren B. Knox and Nancy Knox for an undisclosed amount. A $17,800 mortgage gives some clue regarding the sale price. Warren Knox was the Assistant to Whitman College President, Louis P. Perry from 1959-1962, when he became the Vice-President for Financial Development at Whitman until 1965. On June 28, 1965 Warren and Nancy Knox sold the house to Paul Eric Bodine and Mary Kathryn Bodine for $19,000, with furniture, according to the property’s folder in the Walla Walla County Assessor’s Office. Paul Bodine was a one-year Philosophy Department replacement at Whitman College. On June 3, 1966 the Bodines sold the house for $19,000 to Robert A. Loudon and Meredith Jane Louden, who resided at 734 University from 1966-1972. Robert Loudon was the Manager for the Walla Walla Area Chamber of Commerce, as was the next occupant. Gary W. Webster and Phyllis N. Webster purchased the house on September 2, 1971 for $22,900.

On August 4, 1977 the Websters sold the house to Maurice J. Palmer and Phyllis J. Palmer for $43,500. Maurice Palmer was a veterinary medical officer for the Department of Agriculture. Phyllis Palmer died in 1981; Maurice Palmer apparently lived in the house until 1989 when his address in the City Directory was listed as 835 Mockingbird Dr., College Place. He continued to own it but from 1989-1992, the house was occupied by Colonel James and Arlene Walter. James Walter was the commanding officer of the Walla Walla District of the Corps of Engineers. On April 28, 1993 Palmer sold the house to Christopher Howard and Kathryn Howard for $85,000. Chris Howard is listed in the 1996 City Directory as a social worker for the Children’s Home Society and Kathy Howard is a part-time therapist for the Umatilla-Morrow Educational Service District.

Construction of the house

The Walla Walla County Assessor’s office shows 1906 as the construction date for 734 University. Building permits are not complete before September of 1907 and none was found for this property. There was record of the purchase of the property in March 1905 by James Williams from the H.P. Isaacs Company for $720, corresponding to the value of the lot only. Two mortgages were taken out by Williams: one in June of 1905 in the amount of $1700, probably for the construction of the present home, and another in November of 1906 for $2300, perhaps refinancing the first. The only building permit available was for an “addition to residence” on June 26, 1912 for the very modest sum of $175. A probable construction date of 1905 or 1906 should be used.

Resources Used:

Penrose Library Northwest Archives for fire maps, building permit files, City Directories

Pioneer Title Co. documents for this property

Sanborn Fire maps

Walla Walla Public Library

Walla Walla County Assessor’s files

Walla Walla County Auditor’s Grantor/Grantee files


Katherine Weingart
Walla Walla 2020 Research Service
P.O. Box 1222
Walla Walla WA 99362
July, 2006