December 16, 2010 in Washington Voices

Campbell House open for holiday viewing

By The Spokesman-Review
Audio slideshow: Campbell House at Christmas
Jesse Tinsley photo

The formal dining room is decorated for the holidays at the Campbell House. The homeis open for touring through Jan. 1.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
If you go

Campbell House Holiday Open House

Where: 2316 W. First Ave.

When: Wednesday and Dec. 23-24, 29-31 and Jan. 1, noon to 4 p.m.

Cost: $7; $5 for students, seniors and children; free for children 5 and younger.

First Night, First Day: Visitors with pre-purchased First Night buttons get in for free on Jan. 1.

Information: Call (509) 456-3931 or visit

A visit to the holiday decorated Campbell House is a December tradition for many.

The stately old mansion sits a little back, in a far corner of Browne’s Addition, overlooking the Spokane River below. Walk through the heavy front door on beautiful, creaking wood floors and it’s like being transported back in time.

The Campbell House was finished in 1898 and built by silver mining magnate Amasa B. Campbell. Legendary Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter designed the house in English Tudor revival style.

For the holiday open house the table is set in the dining room with period china on mahogany furniture

“We know that the mahogany dining room furniture originally belonged to the family,” said David M. Brum, curator for community programs for Eastern Washington State Historical Society. “Other furniture in the house is period pieces that we know fit the style of the house, because we have a lot of photos from here.”

This year’s holiday open house will not feature guided tours, said Brum, in an effort to accommodate more visitors.

“Those are some really busy days and this way, by having it open house style, we won’t have to turn anybody away,” said Brum. Museum volunteers will be available throughout the house to answer questions.

“We are hoping we can have someone working in the kitchen, baking bread or something, so it will smell like Christmas when you walk in here,” said Brum. “But we’ve got to find someone who can run the stove, so we can’t promise there will be someone in the kitchen all the time.”

There also will be a scavenger hunt for children, with discoveries to be made throughout the house that can be put together in a scrapbook.

It is obvious that not a penny was spared when the home was built: elaborate dark woodwork decorates the library and the fireplace in the dining room is covered in traditional Dutch blue and white tile. The home features elegant furnishings including French-style furnishings in the gold and pink reception room, just to the right of the hallway.

“People are sometimes surprised that a lot of things we take for granted today, were already in the home back then,” said Brum. “But you’ve got to remember this was not colonial times. There was gas and electricity.”

Brum explained that when Campbell’s wife Grace passed away, the house was given to her daughter Helen Campbell (Mrs. W.W. Powell) who in turn donated the house to the Eastern Washington State Historical Society. The Campbell House was an actual museum for sometime, until another building was constructed for museum use in 1960. The Campbell House was formally restored from 1984 to 2001.

“When you come here you get a feeling of what it was like to live in a time like that, if you came from a family of means,” said Brum, adding that young female staff lived all the way upstairs on the attic level. “The young male staff had small apartments or rooms over the carriage house.”

The Campbell’s no doubt entertained a lot and often had family and friends staying at their home.

“They did many of the same things we do today during the year and around the holidays,” said Brum. “There were weddings here, and dances and dinners. I’m sure it was a lively household.”

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