Name: Alphonso Fowler Learned House
Year Built: 1873
Location: 938 Jefferson Street
Area: Uptown Port Townsend
The Learned House represents a union between two prominent families in the Port Townsend of the latter part of the 19th century, the McCurdys and the Fowlers. The home was built by McCurdy in 1873 as a wedding gift to his youngest daughter Isabell and her husband Alphonso Fowler Learned.
Learned was born in Boston in 1838, oldest son of William and Nancy Fowler Learned. He started a seafaring life at age 19, as a cabin boy, and made several voyages around the world. He sailed into Port Townsend Bay in 1859, as a mate, after having sailed from the East Coast on the clipper Sierra Nevada. He joined his uncle, Captain Enoch S. Fowler, in his successful mercantile business.
Apparently Learned still had the sea in his blood, because he left after several years to sail to Shanghai. After an absence of nine years he returned and resumed his association with his uncle. After another absence, this time to San Francisco and Alaska, he returned again and later suffered heavy financial losses during the collapse of Port Townsend's boom period. He held a number of public offices; he was the first delegate from Jefferson County to the territorial legislature, the first city treasurer, and city clerk, a position to which he was elected six times and held until his death. Learned was also prominent in civic, social, and fraternal organizations such as the Masons, B.P.O.E., and Knight Templars.
Isabell McCurdy (who later married Alphonso Fowler Learned) was born in 1848 and came to Port Townsend with her mother in 1856. The voyage from New Brunswick took five months by packet sailing vessels and rail across the Isthmus of Panama. Her father, Dr. McCurdy, had come to Port Townsend earlier over the Santa Fe Trail to California. Isabell later described her adventures to her granddaughter, including the hostilities with Indians and the gruesome sight of dead Indians suspended in wrapped canoes along the cliff over Washington Street in Port Townsend.
The owner of the Learned House received a Jefferson County Historical Society Preservation Award on April 24, 1989, for maintaining the integrity of the house.
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.