Name: William Bishop House
Year Built: 1886
Location: 1232 Van Ness
Area: Uptown Port Townsend
One of the earliest settlers in the Chimacum Valley was William Bishop, an Englishman who jumped ship around 1853 to find a better way of life in the Northwest. Eventually, he established a thriving dairy farm. He had three children with his Indian wife, Sally, one of whom, William Jr., became a prominent state senator. In the mid-1860s William Sr. remarried a Scottish woman, Hannah (or Anna) Hutchinson. He built the Van Ness house for her and their four children in 1886. The house passed through several generations of the family. Later owners were the Johnsons and the Paddocks. When the Reeds moved in, asphalt siding covered the wood frame house. Its tower was gone, lost in a windstorm. The widow's walk wnext to the master bedroom had been enclosed. One stairwell window was glass-bricked, and another covered entirely, so the hallway was dark. The small 1950s-style kitchen, with turquoise counter tops, had been relocated to the back of the house. The floors were vinyl and the living room walls were covered with mirrors. (The room was once used as a dance studio.) Paul Hess Construction was hired to adapt the house for modern living while preserving its historical significance. The Reeds received the Jefferson County Historical Society's coveted Mary P. Johnson Preservation Award in 1995 for "exemplary restoration and continued maintenance of historic structures."
The tower was replaced, a side porch and the widow's walk were restored, a gable and multi-level decking were added. At zone time a water storage tower stood in the yard next to the well. It is thought that Bishop sold water to his neighbors. The huge old plum tree that stands in the front yard was planted by the Bishops and appears in early pictures.
It took hours of stripping to return the beautiful wood banister to its pristine condition. The front door and hardware are [new. Stained glass found in Port Townsend replaces the glass brick in the stairwell window.
Living Room and Music Room
Old photos showing an outside porch convinced the Reeds to reduce the size of the living room and restore the porch. When stripping the walls they discovered patches of original wallpaper, a sample of which has been preserved. Track for a tpocket door between the rooms indicated that the original door was higher than the one the Reed installed. The 1886 Steinway piano owned by Barbara's grandmother, is the same make and model as a piano that William Bishop kept in this very room. A potbelly stove once stood where the mirrors now hide the chimney.
The overhead light fixture was bought from Nils Starkey, a local restoration fixture dealer. The handsome oak hutch came from Seattle. Because of its intricate design, the wainscoting replacement had to be hand-wrought. The bay extends to the bedroom above and was part of the original structure.
The former servant's quarters is now a utility room. A shower was installed in the upstairs bathroom and a window seat was built into the bay in a daughter's bedroom. Two brothers share the comfortable and practical boys' room. The handsome oak bed in the master bedroom is a Victorian reproduction. Stenciling here was also done by Barbara Reed.
Stories about the house being haunted were scoffed at by the Reeds until Barbara and Ron, working at opposite sides tof their bedroom, both thought they were being nudged by the other. Another time their youngest son woke up to find his bed moved across the room.
The customized kitchen-sitting area is the real focal point of this home. The entire area was gutted and Port Townsend wcabinetmaker Steve Habersetzer built two islands. One supports ornate white columns that replace a bearing wall. China pieces are displayed in the islands and custom cabinets, whose doors are made from glass out of old windows. Green faux marble tops the islands and wet bar. The cooking area has glass-fronted bins for pasta. Wainscoting from kitchen walls also adorns the front of the refrigerator. Architectural designer Ann Landis helped dosing the kitchen. The stenciling was done by Barbara Reed. Ceiling medallions were copied from one remaining original, discovered when a false ceiling was removed. The sitting area features original windows and French doors opening onto a multi-level deck. Overstuffed easy chairs, plants, and an old trunk, used as a coffee table, give the room a comfortable ambiance. An unusual piece is the wooden examining table, which Barbara picked up at a sale in Irondale.
Lower (basement) level
Because of the extensive remodeling, it was necessary to shore up the foundation. What was formerly a root cellar became va bedroom, sitting room and bath that opens to a terrace. This addition expanded the house to five bedrooms and 3,500 square feet. The claw-footed tub in the bathroom belonged to Barbara's grandmother.
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.