Historic homes open doors to days of old

Turn-of-the-century residences like the one a Civil War veteran and his family inhabited will be featured in the annual Historic Homes of Tacoma Tour May 2-3.
Ticket information is available at tacomahistory.org and 253-472-3738. The price of admission, in addition to supporting the Tacoma Historical Society, will provide a peek inside stately homes of yesteryear and an overview of their past and their earliest occupants.
One of them is a 2,846-square-feet Victorian that was built for John Q. and Virginia Mason in 1889, a year after the couple arrived in Tacoma from Illinois. Mason, a Civil War veteran and military telegraph operator, returned to Chicago and rose to become chief dispatcher for the Wabash Railroad. He arrived in Tacoma as assistant superintendent for the Northern Pacific Railway. In 1895 he joined Western Union as inspector for the Tacoma district. Virginia Mason was active in civic affairs, including the women’s suffrage movement and as a leader in the establishment of the Franke Tobey Jones retirement community. The Masons lived in the home until 1896.
John W. Linck and his wife Eva purchased the home in 1901. A native of Indiana, John Linck was an attorney and held several federal appointments, including special agent of the Treasury Department under Presidents Harrison and McKinley. He we transferred from Tampa, Florida, to Tacoma in 1888. After 1900 he served as local police judge and justice of the peace. He was elected mayor of Tacoma in 1908. Judge Linck returned to the bench in 1910 when his term as mayor ended.
From 1913 to 1915, Rev. and Mrs. Murdock McLeod rented the home. The reverend was the pastor of First Presbyterian Church. In March 1915, a bundled up, three-week-old baby was left on the front lawn with an accompanying note that concluded, “We hope you are gaining and are well, and thank kind Dr. McLeod with all our hearts.” The parents were never located, and the child was raised at the Children’s Industrial Home in Tacoma’s Oakland district.
The home’s exterior retains its ornate walkaround porch. The current owners purchased the home in 1978 and have done extensive renovations of the interior. Ornate woodwork and maple floors in the entry, living room, parlor and dining room add an elegant look. The entry retains the original oak turned post and bannister. French doors lead to the living room, which has bay windows at the front and side and a large fireplace. The parlor has a mural and paneling on one wall. The spacious dining room retains its original corner cabinets.
The home was expanded rearward (about 1907), providing space for a half bath and laundry room (where the back entry was originally located), a large kitchen, and a maid’s room on the second floor. The upstairs master suite has its own sitting area and fireplace. The bay windows match those on the first floor. A full bath adjoins the master suite. The main bath has a claw tub. The guest bedroom has a walk-in closet. The upstairs retains much of the original woodwork and hardware.


The Mason House, a Victorian built in 1889, is part of this year's Tacoma Historical Homes Tour.
The Mason House, a Victorian built in 1889, is part of this year’s Tacoma Historical Homes Tour.