Downtown homes show off for a day

Posted: Sunday, November 07, 1999

During the Gastineau Channel Historical Society's tour of five historic homes Saturday, participants got an eyeful of architecture ranging from Queen Anne to craftsman, and decor ranging from moose hatracks to Louis XIV bedsteads.

More than 30 visitors sampled bite-size lemon curd tarts at one house, sipped fragrant tea at another, and oohed and aahed over quilts at a third. The event benefited the Alaska Quilt Survey.

All five homes perch on Chicken Ridge, said to be named for its good ptarmigan hunting at the turn of the century. They included the Mullins House on Seward Street, the Wickersham House on Seventh and Toner House on Seventh and the Cash Cole and Garside houses - both on Sixth.

The gray-blue Mullins House was built in 1904. In 1928, to make room for what was Juneau High School, it was moved uphill with the aid of horses and platforms.

Kay Smith and partners Pat Denny and Sue Glocke bought the house in 1983 and renovated it as a bed-and-breakfast.

The entry hall sets the tone with its oxblood red floorboards, and a 5-foot-high chair rail with pink paper below and white plaster above. Guest bedrooms are named for characters and curios. The Klondike Kate room boasts a brass bed with cherubs intertwined in the headboard, plus decorations of more cherubs, hearts and flowers. Hung with an assortment of animal prints, the Timberwolf room takes its theme from the works of Robert Service and Jack London.

The entry hall of the 1899 Wickersham House immediately calls to mind that man for all seasons, writer and legislator Judge James Wickersham. The house was built by Frank Hammond and purchased in 1928 by the judge, who installed his collectibles and library. The entry hall is dominated by a set of locked moose antlers found by Wickersham in 1901.

``This was definitely an upscale house for the day,'' said guide and quilter June Hall. The front parlor centers on a Chickering piano manufactured in Boston and shipped around the Horn of Africa.

Nora Toner has lived in the green house on Seventh Street for 10 years - not long yet enough to erase the local memory of its former owner, Doc Rude, who lived in the house from 1941 to 1989 and practiced medicine there.

``None of the walls have been moved or altered,'' Toner said. ``It has all the original light fixtures except in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.''

Architect Gary Gillette commented on the broken pediment above the front door of the Rude/Toner house.

``There's a lot of mixed influence in houses here,'' Gillette said.

Khaki with white trim and black window mullions, the c. 1901 Cole House is currently the home of Donald and Alma Harris. Gillette classifies it as combining ``late 19th and early 20th century American/bungalow/craftsman.''

``When we moved to Juneau in 1973,'' Don Harris said, ``we lived in an eight-plex in the valley. We hated it. So when this house came up for sale, we jumped on it.''

Of course, the wallpaper was drooping and the wiring, woodwork and paint all work. Don and Alma took care of the essentials immediately, ``but we don't think we will ever be completely finished,'' he said.

What captivated them were high ceilings, kitchen cabinets that go all the way up, and built-in china cupboards. Alma displays her collection of flow-blue china on the kitchen walls. The stove was originally a Kenmore, but Alma found a jade green 1926 Monarch Malleable in Seattle. Of course, there are compromises. Few mechanics know how to deal with finicky 1926 ovens, so Alma keeps the Kenmore in the basement for backup baking duties.

Two blocks downhill, the Garside House is undergoing elaborate reconstruction in preparation for becoming a bed-and-breakfast in March or April.

Owned by pathologist Tom Hall, the 1895 house has four levels. Interior decorator Leigh Euler pointed out fine points, like the bathroom tile handmade in England, and the Victorian wallpaper custom-made by Bradbury and Bradbury in California. The wallpaper is hung in tiny intersecting pieces by one of five men in the nation capable of dealing with it. The paper on the front parlor ceiling is graced by formal portraits of four goddesses, Zephyria, Ignis, Terra and Acqua (wind, fire, earth and water).

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