Pentecost House

The Pentecost House is one of the homes on this year’s Historic Homes of Tacoma Tour. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Historical Society.

By John Washington

In 1890 Levi and Izora Pentecost engaged architect Arthur L. Smith to design this large Victorian home.  Smith was a well-known architect and the designer of the Gross Brothers department store on Broadway (now the site of the Pantages Theater).  The two-story house cost $4,000, complete with its turret lookout.  Levi Pentecost, born in Indiana in 1845, enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 at age 16.  After the war, he went into various businesses, ending up in banking.  He and Izora came to Tacoma in 1888, where he organized the Citizens’ National Bank.  Citizens’ merged with Pacific National Bank in 1895.  He rose to the presidency in 1911, a year before his death.

The house was updated in 1914 by Izora, who replaced the Victorian woodwork with Craftsman-style woodwork in the entry and living room, added a new front door, and a built-in cabinet and window seat in the dining room.

Izora died in 1919, and the house was purchased in 1921 by Dr. Gustav Wislicenus and his wife Emma, who were emigrants from Germany.  Their daughter, Brunhilde, a graduate of Stadium High School, graduated from the University of Washington in 1935.  She attended the 1936 Olympic Games.  An avid mountain climber, as were here parents, she joined the Tacoma Mountaineers in 1940.  Brunhilde, lived in the house until 2003.

The current owners purchased the house in 2006.  They have undertaken extensive renovation and expansion.  The entry and living room retain much of the 1914 Craftsman update.  The fireplace in the entry has a Prairie-style mantel.  The living room fireplace has an ornate oak surround. The window seat installed above the radiators and the built-in china cabinet also date from 1914.  The stained-glass windows in the entry and the living room are original to the house. The light fixtures in the living room date from circa 1900, when electricity was installed.  Original pocket doors access the dining room, which originally stopped at the beam visible in the ceiling.  The family room beyond the dining room is part of the expansion.  The kitchen was expanded to the rear.  The stained-glass window in the kitchen was originally located in the dining room.  The pantry and bathroom are also part of the expansion.

The two upstairs bedrooms at the front of the house retain their original woodwork and doors.  The semi-circular alcove in the original master bedroom is striking.  The new master bedroom suite is at the rear of the house.  The washbasin in the master bedroom is original to the house, as is the bathtub in the master bath.

Tacoma Historical Society hosts an annual tour of Tacoma’s historical homes and businesses.  Tickets purchased in advance contain a brief history of each home and a map.  Tour dates are May 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 6 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  Tickets are $20.  Call (253) 472-3738 or e-mail