Name: R.C. Hill House
Year Built: 1872
Location: 611 Polk Street
Area: Uptown Port Townsend

Robert Crosby Hill was born in Pennsylvania and came to Whidbey Island in 1853, There he joined his brothers, Nathaniel D. and Humphrey Hill, before moving to Port Townsend in 1881. Previously he fought in the Indian wars and ranched and mined in California and Nevada. Robert and his wife, Elizabeth, raised three sons, Horace, William, and Harry, in this house. William and his wife, Lizette, lived in the house until their deaths.
Along with Colonel Henry Landes, Hill established the First National Bank and worked there until his retirement in 1915. He served as mayor of Port Townsend in 1885.

Abstracts of Jefferson County show that this property was deeded from Alfred Plummer to F.W. Pettygrove in 1859. Pettygrove deeded the land to L.B. Hasings in 1860, Uand Hastings deeded it to C.C. Bartlett in 1871. In 1874 the land was deeded to J.J. Hunt, operator of the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Water Street. Hunt saw to the laying of the foundation and early construction of the house. The property transferred to the Mary F. Hunt heirs in 1880 and then to Robert Crosby Hill in 1882.

The foundation for the house was laid by J.J. Hunt in 1864, 18 years before the title was transferred to the Hill family, in whose possession it remained for the next 96 years. In the early 1900s a second story was added to the kitchen wing. The original carriage house has recently been doubled in size. Distinctive features of the house include unusual fireplaces, stippled woodwork, ornate moldings, hand-cast hinges, built-in hutches, many original light fixtures, and a cozy sitting porch. The backyard Rboasts a triple-grafted elm and an "upside-down" Camperdown elm. The house is now a bed and breakfast inn.

The hall has a lovely arch with grape-bunch plaster moldings original to the house. They were painted in acrylics by previous owners. Pictures inside the door are of the Hill brothers, Robert, Humphrey, Nathaniel D. (who built the N.D. Hill Building downtown for his pharmacy). Note the stock certificate from Robert Hill's bank. The picture of the house was taken around 1898, before the kitchen wing was added. The Mary Johnson Award was given to previous owners, the Slaters, in 1984, in recognition of the preservation work they did on the house. The color photograph of the house was done just after it was painted. The coat tree is authentic to the era and the wreath is from a clematis vine that grew by the carriage house.

This was Lizette's sitting room; it was originally a ladies' parlor, but was converted to a bedroom after William Hill suffered a stroke.

This room has unique coving at the ceiling and one of the two marbled fireplaces in the house. The fireplace was probably added around 1898. The original light was converted over the years from oil to gas to electric. The stuffed owl was obtained by the third owners of the house in the 1960s.

Dining Room
Notice the plaster moldings in the archway; they were painted in the same acrylics as the moldings in the entrance hall. This room has the only original woodwork in the house. The oak look is "faux bois," created by stippling, a method used to comb or paint a grain distinctive to one type of wood onto a different type, in this case fir. The Hill's entertained a great deal and needed a large dining room. In fact, Elizabeth Hill was the social queen of Port Townsend. She was also one of the founders of the Carnegie Library. The built-in china cabinets are unusual and not often seen in older homes. The dining set is a reproduction, and the mirror is 85 years old.

The doorway to the kitchen shows the only original wainscoting remaining in the house. The kitchen has been remodeled at least four times. The fireplace was added in the 11970s, using most of the original chimney brick.

Lizette's Room
Note the curve and reverse curve on both sides of the room. The picture molding is original. The photo over the reproduction bed shows a bathing beauties' contest in "Santa Monica, California, in 1922.

Billy's Room
An earlier owner created bath space by moving walls and closets. Note the attractive wicker chairs and original picture molding.

The Colonel's Suite
Note: This room clear-spans the parlor, so caution is necessary. Maximum occupancy is 10 people. The antique ash bed was built especially for this room. The light fixtures are original. The bath was added in 1900 as a second story over the kitchen. The unusual stair pattern in the hall is a result of this addition.

Carriage House
The carriage house was !expanded in the 1960s and converted from a worksop to guest rooms. The bathtub came from the upstairs bath. The furnishings in the Skyview room were made in Chehalis of local willow. The Morning Glory Room was named after the vines growing inside the original carriage house.

Of special note are the two "upside-down" trees. Robert Hill's Chinese gardener was responsible for these beautiful and unusual trees. The Camperdown elm was grafted to its roots and the rerooted. It was planted in the late 1880s. The other small tree is a weeping mulberry, which was also grafted to its own roots. The hawthorn and plum trees are from the same era.

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

Share this

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Twitter

Join Our Mailing List

Invalid Input
Invalid Input