by Clenda Davidson

Clenda Davidson, "Naming homes in Steilacoom," Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, I #3 (September, 1972) p. 6-7.

Why are homes in Steilacoom named? It is an old, old custom. Even primitive countries have place names. Our American Indians had place names, many of which are still in use. Castles and fortresses in Europe are named. Our southern plantations and western ranches are named.

With the coming of the electric car line from Tacoma to Steilacoom in 1890, the residents of Tacoma and Seattle were quick to discover that little, old Steilacoom with its gorgeous sunsets, beautiful beaches, sunny streets and fruitful old orchards, was just the place to spend the summers. Little cottages sprang up along the beaches, bluffs and ravines and appropriate name slabs were nailed to the front porches. 

Older homes were rented or were made into summer boarding houses by the owners, and they too were named. A sort of fad for house-naming took over the town about 1909. It was not until 1947 that street signs were erected and another 25 years passed before house numbers were required for mail delivery. Steilacoom remained a summer resort until the coming of the railroad in 1914. From 1890 to 1914 the population ranged from 270 to 450.

The oldest Steilacoom house to be given a name was, perhaps, the 'Cottage-by-the-Sea'. It was built before 1855 and was named sometime between 1890 and 1900. One of the newest named homes is 'Briercroft', built in 1963.

1. The location of the home had great deal to do with choosing a name: Cottage-by-the-Sea, Iron Springs Hotel, Overlook, Ravine, Rolling Hill, Saltaire Lodge, Sea View Fruit Farm, The Castle, Alta Sitka (high place)

2. The structure and/or trim of home helped to name it: Copper Kettle, Cozy Cot, Gray Gables, Justamere Cottage, Outside Inn, Snug Harbor, The Dollhouse, The Columns, The Old Homestead

3. Family names were used: Bairsden, Green Lantern, Jordan Hotel, Hunts' Hogan, The House of Walthouse, Westwood, Wildo, Hotel Waverly (named for owner's bicycle)

4. Tree names for homes: Appletree Cottage, Cherry Cottage, Firwood, Locust, Madrona, Pines, Poplars, The Orchard, Wildwood

5. Vegetation helped to pick a name: Briercroft, Floral Home, jasmine Tea House, Posy Cot, Sweetbrier, Vine Cottage

6. The time of day houses: The Dawn, Sunny Crest, Sunset Terrace, Even Tide

7. Scottish names: Blinkbonnie, Bonnie Shelter, Lochiel

8. An Indian name: Neenamoosa (dearest possession)

9. A French name: Sans-Souci (carefree or without worry)

10. A name 'for the birds',: Crow's Nest

11. Sign acquired from another building: The Palace

Named Homes in Steilacoom
Justamere Cottage
Sunny Crest
Sunset Terrace
Rolling Hill
The Columns
The Old Homestead
The House of Walthouse
Hunts' Hogan

Occupied Homes
Once Named
Alta Sitka
Appletree Cottage
Bonnie Shelter
Cosy Cot
Crow's Nest
Iron Kettle

G. L. Bair
Donn Laughlin
Joel Hiatt
Miss Margaret Grigor
Ray Fletcher
Mrs. Lawrence McClelland
G. G. Parlaman
C. V. Davidson
John Balumas
Marvin Rhodes
Robert Walthouse
Mrs. Clarence Dowling
(G. L. Bair, owner)
Herbert Hunt
George Jacobs
George Wood
Charles Keller
Harold Mellyer
Wm. Leech (owner)
Rented house (owner?)
Rented (owner?)
Dr. Hoos (Mr. Ptak, owner)
Fred Zwigler

1213 Starling
1210 Union
602 Lafayette
202 Martin
302 Pierce
First and Gove
302 Martin
1802 Commercial
1214 Starling
1811 Lafayette
1607 Nisqually
1702 Commercial
1002 First
First and Wallace
1306 Nisqually 
614 Lafayette 
1302 Rainier 
308 Frederick 
412 First 
1314 Starling 
1306 Rainier
307 Martin

Overlook Mrs. Sara Lint
Sea View Fruit Farm Fred Schwab
Snug Harbor Norman Webster
The Castle Mrs. Irene Tollefson
The Orchard Mrs. James Bruce
Vine Cottage Mrs. Ethel Scholes
Wildo William Leech

Names No Longer Appropriate
Bairsden William Leech
Green Lantern Chet Palmer
Jasmine Tea House Robert McDonald
Westwood Philip Zellers
Gray Gables David Hudson
Wildwood Dale Henyan
Cherry Cottage Bruce Akin
Even Tide Mrs. Helen Barclay
Ravine Wade Palmer, (N. Brown, owner)
Saltaire Lodge Sam Lockwood
Sweetbrier rented (Nick Brown, owner)
The Dawn rented (Don Moody, owner)

Named Homes No Longer Standing
Floral Home, 
Iron Springs Hotel, 
Jordan Hotel, 
Outside Inn, 
The Palace, 
The Pines, 
The Posy Cot, 
The Poplars, 
The Dollhouse

(Editors' Note: Let's continue the custom of naming homes in Steilacoom. If the name for your house is no longer up, put it up. If your home has not had a name in the past now is the time to be creative and add to the charm of your home by giving it a name.)

Clenda Davidson, "Naming homes in Steilacoom," Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, I #3 (September, 1972) p. 6-7.