Name: Jonathan J. Bishop House
Year Built: 1889
Location: 608 Root Street
Area: Uptown Port Townsend
Little is known about Howard S. Wright, who built this multi-gabled house in 1889 as a speculative venture. The house has become known as the Jonathan Bishop House because that branch of the Bishop family lived there for many years. In fact, Mrs. Bishop, now in her 90s, lives in the small house to the rear of the property.
Originally, there were three houses of the same design standing side by side, but the other two have been torn down. The foundation of one still remains in the vacant lot next to the Bishop House, and the lot was used as an orchard for a while.
Jonathan's name first appears in local records in 1897, when he is listed as an attorney residing on Morrison Street. It is quite possible that he and his wife, Pauline, were the first occupants of this house. In later years Jonathan served as county assessor, treasurer, and auditor, as well as clerk of the court. He is also listed as ex-officio clerk of the superior court.
Jonathan was the third son of William Bishop, an English sailor who jumped ship in the Straits of Juan de Fuca in 1853 at the age of 28, and settled in Chimacum Valley. William had three children by his first wife, an Indian woman. His second son by that wife, also named William, served many years as a senator in the state legislature.
The senior Bishop eventually divorced his Indian wife and married Hannah, an Englishwoman, by whom he had three more children. Bishop operated a successful dairy farm and cheese factory in Chimacum, and retired to Port Townsend, where he built the mansion on Van Ness, as well as the Bishop Block on Washington Street, now the home of the Bishop Hotel.
The Jonathan Bishop house was "modernized" for the first time in the 1950s. A photo in The Leader in 1978 shows it being restored by owners Dr. and Mrs. Peter Geerlof. Doug Palmer bought the house in 1980. Palmer wanted a widow's walk, so he had the formerly pointed roof cut off and added a railing that he had shipped from Pakistan.
The original structure was square with bay windows only on the side. The front of the house has seen extensive modification: a bay was added on the first floor, and in 1990 the outdoor porch on the second floor was closed in.
In 1991 a broken-down shed standing to the rear of the house was removed and the garage addition was built. It contains a laundry and upstairs room that will eventually serve as Palmer's office. Brown shake shingle siding has replaced the original wood siding, and new and larger black-and-white-trimmed windows let in added light.
Data modified from the National Register of Historic Places, the former Victorian Festival Heritage Home Tour, property owners and other sources. All material copyrighted by PTguide.com.