Waldo Rosebush returned from World War I with a longing in his heart; according to family legend, he left the love of his life in France.
In 1919, he took a job as assistant general manager of Inland Empire Paper Co. in Millwood, rising to general manager a few years later.
In 1923, he built a home just west of Argonne Road patterned after the country houses he had seen while serving in Normandy. As family legend has it, Rosebush had his home designed with the intent of wooing his sweetheart to America. She never came, though, and Col. Rosebush never married.
On Sunday, the Rosebush House will be among several historic homes and commercial buildings on display in the 14th annual historic home tour by Spokane Preservation Advocates.
Vikkie Naccarato, owner of the Rosebush House, said she is looking forward to welcoming scores of tour ticket holders.
“It’s so unique,” she said of the home. “It’s very livable and charming.”
The tour follows a successful candlelight tour of South Hill homes last November that coincided with the National Preservation Conference in Spokane. Proceeds benefit Spokane Preservation Advocates’ historic preservation projects.
Millwood last hosted a historic home tour in 2000, an event that drew more than 2,000 people over two days.
In 2001, the Millwood Historic District was placed on the national historic register.
Naccarato is part of an effort in Millwood to certify the city so it can create a Millwood local historic register and grant tax incentives for preservation projects.
Millwood started its life as a rail stop known as Woodard Station, named after early settler Seth Woodard. With the arrival of the mill, the name of the settlement was changed to Millwood, a combination of mill and Woodard.
Argonne Road takes its name from the Argonne Forest in northeastern France where veterans who settled in the Millwood area had fought during World War I, according to the historic district nomination report.
Millwood could be considered a company town since the early homes were built for millworkers.
Yet the existence of rail lines and the proximity of Spokane allowed its residents the calm of suburban living with the nearby conveniences of the urban center.
“Millwood is a planner’s paradise and a homeowner’s utopia,” preservation consultant Linda Yeomans said in an email.
She said the Rosebush House has to be considered the high point of the tour.
“The garage looks like a castle with a castle remnant on the north side. A garden wall and back yard garden look like they were built in France or Tuscany,” Yeomans said. A tunnel connects the house and garage.
Rosebush, a firearms expert, had a downstairs gun room with a door that looks as if it were built for a castle. There is a “No trespassing” sign in French.
Naccarato said a generation of children growing up in Millwood considered the Rosebush House to be haunted because a previous owner was private and shooed children out of the yard.
The Salmons House, named for early settler and homeowner Harry Salmons, is on the tour at 8903 E. Liberty Ave.
Also as part of the tour, several commercial buildings will be open, including the Brown Building, which now houses the Corner Door cafe, book and art shop at the corner of Dalton Avenue and Argonne.
The brick building retains much of its historic integrity, including high windows above the main panes, steam pipes and hardware.
Betsy Mott, who grew up in the Dishman area, has captured Millwood’s history in a series of drawings that are available for sale.
She described Millwood as having “the best of both worlds. You’ve got the small-town atmosphere, but it’s in the center of two large cities.”
A pair of historic exhibits will be open at the Company Ballet School, 3201 N. Argonne Road, just south of the Corner Door.
Inland Empire Paper Co. will be featured in one of the exhibits. The paper company is now a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.