Vintage Glass and Old Brass

Property Watch: A 1904 Foursquare Home Stays True to Style

This historic home has been updated and adapted for modern life—without losing its old-house identity.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd November 17, 2021

The American Foursquare home evolved as a counter to the extravagant designs of Victorian styles, like that cartoonishly opulent pink palace in Port Townsend. But it’s all relative: Some early Foursquares certainly have fancier trappings. Today, it’s hard to walk into the foyer of a home with decorative glass, fine millwork, and an elaborate fireplace and think, This is refreshingly modest.

In this particular 1904 Foursquare on the cusp of the Central District and ever-expanding Capitol Hill, you’ll find some familiar Victorian hallmarks along with some handsome features from the then-emerging Craftsman styleand both still shine throughout.

The plentiful leaded glass starts right at the front entrance, and continues into the foyer with a built-in bench and a wood screen in front of a winding staircase. To the right, a cased opening leads to the living room, bounded on one side by a shallow bay window. It includes a more Victorian-style fireplace: Elegantly carved, deep-toned wood borders a green-tiled hearth and surround, with a heavily ornamented cast iron firebox at the center.

Round the corner through a set of original pocket doors to a large formal dining area with built-in leaded-glass cabinetry. Two nooks on the far wall are a little more intimate: One has a desk or breakfast bar facing a window, built into a network of shelves and cabinets, almost like a pantry you can work in. Another is less busy, but does feature corner windows for a little extra sunlight.

The kitchen was updated in 2012. While it shows in finishes like a subway-tile backsplash, it’s not a complete departure—mostly it just adapts to modern living. A lesser remodel would have done away with the butler’s pantry with leaded-glass cabinets and an original grain box.

Upstairs, find four bedrooms, including one with an ensuite bath, which is pretty unusual for the time. Climb up one more level to a finished attic, with a large bonus room and a smaller, quieter area off to one side, all nestled in the roof shape. This is the only floor with carpet—it’s mostly hardwood on the historic first two floors.

While it’s had some significant updates—the second-floor bathrooms were also redone in 2012, for example—nothing was scorched-earth. Original crown molding, baseboards, and door and window casing remain throughout the home. The brass doorknobs are especially noticeable: Listing agent James Campbell tells us that he removed each one in the house himself, removed the paint that had accumulated over more than a century, and polished them before officially putting the home on the market. These kinds of finishes are nearly impossible to replicate once they’re gone, although many have tried.

For old-house lovers, it’s all too common to gasp in horror to see the listing for a historic home that’s missing everything fun about a historic home. This is a rare example of how a house can be kept up and modernized without losing the doorknobs.

Listing Fast Facts

1124 16th Ave
Size: 2,626 square feet/0.6 acres, 4 bedroom/2.25 bath
List Date: 11/11/2021
List Price: $1,225,000
Listing Agents: 
Lisa Sears and James Campbell, Coldwell Banker Bain

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