Victorian Days to include rare public tour today of historical Port Townsend house

PORT TOWNSEND — To anyone who has ever walked around the uptown area, the exterior of the Landes House presents an intriguing facade.

Set back from the street in its own formal garden, the two-story house with its painted gables, gingerbread porches and tall brick chimneys looks like something out of a storybook.

But for most, the interior of the house remains a mystery.

Unlike most historical homes in Port Townsend, the Landes House has rarely been open to the public.

This Saturday, visitors on the Victorian Festival Home Tour will have the chance to open the gate, enter the grounds and step over the threshold of the house, now undergoing restoration before new owners move in.

“If these walls could talk, I’m sure they’d have stories to tell,” said Jeremy Fields.

An employee of Little and Little Construction, Fields has been working in the house for the past 10 months for the new owners, who now live in San Francisco.

But he has two other connections to the house.

Born in 1979, Fields was delivered by Dr. Jacobs, the town doctor who lived in the Landes House during the 1970s and SSRq80s.

The other is that Fields’ father, Joe Fields, worked on the house during one of its many restorations.

“He stops by every once and a while to see how it’s going,” Fields said.

Actually two houses brought to the site and put together in 1871, the Landes House has been modified over the years into a homogenous whole.

But when it was last open to the public, on a hospital guild tour in the 1980s, there was still an exterior wall visible in the upstairs interior, according to Anne Woods, who was a docent.

“You walked on roof shingles,” she said of one of the upstairs floors.

There’s also a large light shaft at the top of the stairs.

Downstairs, the large kitchen has been completely redone. One of the front parlors has been decorated with reproduction Victorian wallpaper with coordinating ceiling paper and borders.

In the room across the entry hall, a sample of the chosen wallpaper patterns is on the wall.

Contractor to attend

A contractor from Little and Little Construction will be on hand during the tour to answer questions about the restoration of the house, on Franklin Street between Polk and Tyler streets, which will be open today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A $12 ticket also includes entrance to another historic uptown home.

The Victorian Festival, today and Sunday, is sponsored by the Victorian Society in America Northwest chapter and includes the Grand Ball, guided bus tour, living history presentations and high tea at Manresa Castle.

Additionally, the Jefferson County Historical Society offers walking tours of the downtown and uptown historic districts on through Sunday and a Victorian Fashion Show at 3 p.m. today.

For ticket information, go to www.victorianfestival.org.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at [email protected]

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