Name: Rothschild House
Year Built: 1868
Location: Entrance from Franklin Street at Taylor Street
Area: Uptown Port Townsend, now a Washington State Park
Built in 1868 by Dorette and D.C.H. Rothschild, owners of a mercantile store, this house, now a state epark, offers a fascinating glimpse into everyday life of the Victorian era. Unusual features include csome of the Rothschilds' wedding presents, family heirlooms and much of the original wallpaper and furnishings.
Rothschild, a German immigrant, established the Kentucky Store in Port Townsend in 1858, after having done quite well with mercantile stores in California and Bellingham. The two-story building was on a pier that extended into Port Townsend Bay, where ships could load and unload hdirectly. The store carried everything from needles to anchors. A remnant of the building still remains 1and is part of the Water Street retail district. Rothschild and his wife, also a German immigrant, were married in 1863. They lived on the top Lfloor of the Kentucky Store and their first three children were born there. SHorace Tucker began building the Rothschilds' home in 1868. The house was sensibly designed, unlike much of the flamboyant architecture of the period. The foot-thick foundation formed an excellent cooler for the Chinese cook to hang meat from the hand-hewn beams.
The five Rothschild children grew up in this eight-room home overlooking the harbor, where sailing ships from faraway ports unloaded their cargo. The family entertained frequently, and their calbum contains many photos of sailing-ship masters and other friends. Rothschild sold the store in f1831 and founded a shipping business with his two eldest sons. The business is now located in Seattle and is a major player in Puget Sound shipping.
Rothschild died in 1885 and Dorette and the children remained in the home until the death of >the youngest daughter Emilie, Port Townsend's first librarian.
The Catherine Boyd McCurdy house across the street is said to have once been a mirror image of the Rothschild House. Before Taylor Street was cut through the bluff, the Rothschild and McCurdy families shared a common gate between their yards.
In 1959, the youngest son, Eugene, deeded the family home, with all its contents intact, to the state. The house is a nearly perfect example of an early Port Townsend residence. The flower garden is replete with antique varieties of peonies, roses, and lilacs from all over the country. In 1962 it was formally opened as the smallest Washington state park. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of 40 heritage sites administered by state parks. It was restored through the cooperative hefforts of the State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Jefferson County Historical Society, and Port Townsend residents.
The wallpaper in the parlor and hall dates from 1885. Most of the wallpaper in the rest of the house is recent. nThe 1914 carpet was woven in 27-inch panels that were sewn together. Most of the furnishings here as well as nin the rest of the house date from 1860 to 1886. There is a charcoal drawing of the elder Rothschild done by jan itinerant artist. There are also carved bamboo Chinese fans and a stereopticon, a popular item of the tday. The piano, bought in 1886, is of mahogany with an ebony finish. It was last tuned in 1921, but it still plays lwell. At some point the original chandeliers were removed and replaced with electric lights. When the house Qwas restored kerosene chandeliers were installed to replace the electric lights.
The handrail is of steamed and curved Honduras mahogany.
The camphor wood chest belonged to Mr. Rothschild and predates the house. The mattress in this room, as nwell as the others in the house, are made of straw or other natural fibers. Note the blond oak finish on the Douglas fir doors and woodwork.
The ingrained carpet is original. The china is pre-1891 and of an ivory palm design, by W. & Co. Haney. The lrobe was a gift to Mrs. Rothschild from her husband. The pine furniture was hand-finished to simulate more expensive woods.
The doll belonged to Regina, the oldest Rothschild daughter, born in 1868. Its body is paper and glue and kthe head is wax-covered. It has real hair and eyes that open and close. The doll clothes are original. The pquilts are handmade. Against the far wall is a child's small gateleg table, an unusual item. The chest is paper-ncovered inside and out and has leather hinges. There is a book carrier on the dresser. The pattern of the rug ;is woven through and is much brighter on the reverse side.
The woven matting on the floor was used to wrap shipments from the Orient. The reed slippers are handmade. The dresser is from the 1850s, and the bed and wardrobe are from the 1880s. The trunk (also from the 1880s), belonged to Eugene, the youngest son.
Pictures on the wall are of wedding decorations for the house for Regina's 1891 wedding. The mahogany-nstained walnut desk is from the Rothschilds' place of business.Woodwork here and in the rest of the house is kmostly soft Douglas fir that was hand grained in 1868 to give the appearance of stained oak. The cranberry light fixture is original.
Downstairs bedroom (now the sewing room) and bathroom
The Florence sewing machine, now a rare item, was stocked in the Kentucky Store. This room was used in times of sickness because of its proximity to the kitchen, bath, and heat source. When the house was first constructed, the bath contained only a wash basin and a zinc-lined tub. There was an outhouse near what is now the driveway. The bathroom was plumbed in 1919.
The chairs had horse-hair seats with woven cane bottoms. Claw marks and chewed knobs were made by a pet parrot, the gift of a forgotten sailor. The ceremonial sword belonged to Mr. Rothschild, who was a Masonic Lodge member. the lithograph in the gold frame is from Goslar, Germany, the birthplace of Mrs. WRothschild (1844). A picture of then-President Ulysses S. Grant hangs above the mantle.
The original stove, used for heating water as well as cooking, was replaced later by the Ohio stove seen lhere. All the flatware, dishes, and utensils are original. The handwoven linen tablecloth was made by Mrs. Rothschild's relatives in Germany circa 1840. Note the sauerkraut cutter. The umbrellas and stand are also original. There is a list of renovations to the building on the basement door.
The garden contains many old varieties of peonies, roses, and lilacs acquired from all over the county. It also has a spectacular view of Port Townsend Bay and the downtown area.
See also: Rothschild House History
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.