Tacoma Historical Society presents the Silver Anniversary tour of Historic Homes

The 2019 tour has a focus on Tacoma’s historic North Slope

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

As we all know, Tacoma has many unique, historical and commemorative features, events and celebrations.

One of the coolest is coming up soon.

Other cities may have tours of historic homes, but few have the variety of styles, eras and modes of construction.

I’m a bit biased here, but I’d also bet that Tacoma has far more than its share of public eccentrics with the means to show off their passions, disappointments or obsessions.

Tacoma’s tour of historic homes is the opportunity for regular people to get up close and personal with a few of these one-of-a-kind architectural wonders.

I’ve been going to these tours for several years now, and I have to say that they will not disappoint.

If you are interested in the history or culture of Tacoma or looking for some design ideas or have visions of investing your wealth in your own unique architectural expressions – or just want to have an enjoyable time – do not miss the Silver Anniversary of Tacoma’s tour of historic homes.

This year Central Lutheran Church will be the reception center, a good place to begin – and end your tour. You can also see the Union Club, Saint Patrick Catholic Church, and six beautiful historic homes in Tacoma’s Stadium District and North Slope area.

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This is a self-guided walking tour. The homes are within a close walking or short driving distance of each other and good walking shoes are recommended.

This tour is recommended for those 16 years and older – though I have seen far younger children thoroughly entranced by the stories literally built in stone, timber and glass.

There is no food, drink or photography allowed in any home. Complimentary snacks and drinks will be available at the Reception Center during tour hours.

I suggest getting there early. These are among the most popular tours in the greater Tacoma area.

In previous years I have seen full-sized tour buses from Seattle and Olympia making the stops.

For 2019, all the tour sites are within walking distance for most people of average ability.

This has been a priority, though as you can imagine it can be a challenge.

These tours, for obvious reasons, tend to be in historic neighborhoods – primarily in and around Tacoma’s  North End.

But if you have any ideas or suggestions for a historic tour of homes or buildings in other neighborhoods, or want to offer your home or historic building for a future tour please contact the Tacoma Historical Society and let them know.

As much as I love the indefinable character, sense – and sometimes literally haunted presence of these homes, I’d like to see The Historical Society shake it up a little – maybe with a tour of houses of worship (it would be tough to make it a walking tour, I know) or maybe a tour on a theme.

Large and small, historic buildings dominate Tacoma's landscape.  Photo: Morf Morford
Large and small, historic buildings dominate Tacoma’s landscape. Photo: Morf Morford

I’ve heard there was a network of Prohibition Era “Speakeasies”. And I’ve heard of at least a couple of homes with 1930’s Chicago gangland connections.

A tour of some of the rarely seen historic structures on and around our military bases would be popular.

Who would not want to see a tour of homes where vintage celebrities used to hang out?

Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles used to visit friends here. How many knew there used to be a good-sized film studio in Tacoma?

Several actors, writers and musicians have lived in Tacoma from Dashiell Hammett (author of the original “noir” novels) to Richard Brautigan and Frank Herbert to Kurt Cobain – among many others – but who knows where they lived?

You can see more information on the Tacoma Historical Society here – https://www.tacomahistory.org/.

Among many other things on their website, you can see a history of Tacoma newspapers and an introduction to the tour and a preview video of the 2019 tour here.