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Washington Voices

Falling in love with homes from the past

25th annual home tour this Saturday, Sunday

Rick and Julie Biggerstaff took a bike ride through Browne’s Addition in the summer of 2008 and fell in love.

Only the object of their affection on this ride wasn’t each other. It was their future home.

During the ride, they discovered one of Spokane’s grand historic homes was for sale.

They returned the next day during an open house and stood outside staring at it for a half-hour before going inside.

“We came in, and we just fell in love with it,” Julie Biggerstaff said.

By that fall, they had moved into the historic Reid House, a 13,000-square-foot home at 2315 W. First Ave.

The home will be one of six stops on this year’s 25th annual Mother’s Day Home Tour from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The event is a fundraiser for the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

The homes on this tour represent some of the finest examples of Spokane’s Age of Elegance dating back to the late 1800s. One of the other homes, the Page-Ufford House, an 1896 Free Classic Queen Anne home at 364 S. Coeur d’Alene St., is owned by Katherine Fritchie who sold the Reid House to the Biggerstaffs.

Among the other stops on the tour are the 1897 Patsy Clark Mansion, 2208 W. Second Ave., which was once a popular fine restaurant and now houses a law firm, and the E.J. Roberts Mansion, 1923 W. First Ave., an 1889 Victorian residence that now operates as a bed and breakfast.

Entering the Reid House is a little like walking into a lodge. There is so much red fir adorning the main floor that the space comes alive with the warmth that only naturally finished wood can give.

A magnificent fir staircase with landings leads to the upper bedrooms. The east end of the living room is filled with a fireplace and inglenook. Much of the fir is hewn by hand.

The home was designed by master architect Albert Held, who also designed major commercial projects such as the Holly Mason Building. Held also did the historic San Marco Apartments among numerous other projects in Spokane.

The Reid House is unique to Spokane. It has been termed a Craftsman bungalow, but the Biggerstaffs said they believe the design pre-dates the Craftsman movement by enough years that it probably should be classified differently. They said the design was likely inspired by the colonial bungalows of South Asia. The Asian bungalows subsequently influenced the Craftsman movement, they said.

“Essentially, nothing has been done with this house” to change its original look, Rick Biggerstaff said. “It hasn’t been touched at all.”

The Biggerstaffs have been putting a lot of work into keeping the Reid House well maintained and making improvements that are consistent with its historic past.

They had custom-made storm windows and a front screen door built to match the original look. They replaced and upgraded the heating system and have repaired and refinished some of the floors. Plumbing has gotten attention, too.

The Biggerstaffs are members of Spokane Preservation Advocates. They are active in the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council. Rick Biggerstaff is the council chair, and Julie Biggerstaff is treasurer. They are also involved in the Friends of Coeur d’Alene Park.

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