Name: Fern House
Year Built: 1890
Location: 1041 Taylor
Area: Uptown Port Townsend

Not much is known about the Fern House. An early resident was Augustus Pillep, one of two cigar manufacturers in Port Townsend. In 1907 he had a cigar store on Water Street, complete with a wooden Indian. A parking lot now occupies that space.

Built about 1890, Fern House exemplifies the practical beauty of the Victorian cottage, which has evolved over the years with its own history and its own mystery. Some of the remodeling done over the years adds to the mystery of this house.

One apparent change is noticeable on the outsidethe woodwork around the center from window is different from the original trim of the window right below it. The brick work in the chimney reflects the pride the bricklayers had in their work, it's a bit uncommon for a Victorian cottage. The fretwork over the front door is typically Victorian. The quatrafoil at the top is of the Victorial Gothic style. The bannisters are probably not original; the originals were probably more ornate. The transom window over the front door is unusual.

The entry used to extend farther back, but has recently been remodeled to house a laundry room.

Parlor and Dining Room
The floors in the parlor and dining room are original. The wide planks show the age of the floor as opposed to newer, narrower planks in more modern houses. The picture rail divides the walls in the parlor reflecting the most recent fashionable trend of the times.

The criss-cross work on one window is unusual and was considered to be very high fashion and worthy of a more extravagant house. The round hole in the wall tells us the house had a woodburning stove instead of a fireplace. This was a state-of-the-art addition to any house at that time.

The bay window and the brackets in the dining room were typical of the era, but the window seat was not. The fashion of the time dictated that the wallpaper border should meet the picture rail and the ceiling would have been wallpapered. You can also see a hole in the corner here for another stove. The hole above the kitchen door was probably for a fan or a grill, to allow heat to pass from the kitchen to the rest of the house. The little room off the dining room was probably used for a library or a bedroom for an elderly person.

The dough table is an unusual piece. When kitchens were first designed, they had no built-in furniture, and pieces designed for the rest of the house were moved in. Some of the first pieces designed for use in the kitchen were dough tables. Notice the table's tin drawer, designed to keep rats out.

Notice the dust covers in the corners. The Victorians were skilled at adding beauty while saving themselves work.

The sink and bathtub are original.

Upstairs kitchen area
It is unclear what this area was originally, but many houses were remodeled during World War II to accommodate the need for more housing and the lack of materials during the war.

Upstairs bedrooms
You will notice that some windows are trimmed differently from others. This is also noticeable from the outside. This could possibly have been the result of rebuilding after a chimney fire, or some windows might have been added later.

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

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