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Landmarks: Cannon Hill 1926 Bungalow retains historic charm

UPDATED: Wed., May 17, 2017, 2:15 p.m.

The Elmer and Hester Hutsinpiller House at 3 W. 27th Ave. has the distinction of having been home to three generations of a single family. It also became the house that current owners Carol and Dennis Anderson decided they wanted to live in, even though it wasn’t for sale when they began looking for a new home.

They knew they wanted a cottage-style home in the Cannon Hill-Manito Park area of Spokane, so in 2000 they began driving around looking for houses in the neighborhood. They admired the Hutsinpiller House, which had been built in 1926, gazing at it at least three times, and they eventually put a note on the screen door asking if the owner might consider selling.

Two weeks later, they got a call, and before long, the house was theirs. “We loved that none of the woodwork had been painted, that the original floors were in great shape, that the bones of the house were strong and that it hadn’t been ‘remuddled’ in any way,” Carol Anderson said. “And also the yard looked interesting.”

Knowing that original owner Hester Hutsinpiller had been a serious gardener and president of the Associated Garden Club in Spokane, “we waited a whole year to see what would come up in the yard before we did anything with it,” said Carol Anderson, herself a Master Gardener. “There were all these beautiful things that came up, but it was a steep learning curve for me to transform into a shade gardener.”

The property includes three large oak trees. A fourth tree fell in 2014, and the Andersons kept a portion of it, let it cure for a year and had it milled. From the wood they built a fireplace hearth and book shelves for the basement family room, a table for the breakfast nook and the frame for a screen door. “The tree will forever be a part of the house.”

And the house itself, which received Spokane Register of Historic Places designation in 2015, turned out to be just what the Andersons hoped for. Any remodeling they did was with an eye toward retaining the character of the house. Even updating the kitchen, they kept many original cupboards and created new ones that replicated the original. They created a new bathroom in the upstairs dormer by their bedroom and remodeled the other two bathrooms, retaining as much as possible of the originals.

A big surprise came when removing linoleum flooring in the main floor bathroom, to reveal a terrazzo floor underneath, unique for a small-scale floor in what is considered a modest bungalow. And should the new upstairs bathroom ever require repair, a surprise awaits inside a wall, where the Andersons have put in a time capsule in the form of a quart-size canning jar containing the history of the house and information about them.

The bungalow was built in 1926 with embellishments in the Craftsman style for J. Elmer Hutsinpiller, a clerk with the U.S. Railway Mail Service, and his wife, Hester. It cost $4,500. A year later they added a single-car garage at the back of the house for $300. Both structures are clad in variegated raked brick veneer, and the double-hung wood-sash windows are original.

The gumwood-veneered front door is 40 inches wide with three vertical beveled leaded-glass insets with lower pointed ends, repeated in the flanking sidelights. One of the special features of the house is the gumwood woodwork throughout, which has been carefully cared for and maintained for more than nine decades. Rooms have oak plank hardwood floors, and the 1926 ARCO boiler – originally coal-fired and now fueled by natural gas – continues to provide radiant hot water heat in the house’s radiators.

Anderson notes that the Hutsinpillers were forward thinking when it came to closets and storage space throughout the house. For example, the entire west wall of the family room has original built-in cupboards, cabinets and closets.

Even though the Andersons considered they were downsizing, it turns out that the Hutsinpiller House is deceptively large, with three full floors of usble space. This has turned out to come in handy, as Carol’s father lived with them in his last few years and now a granddaughter stays with them as she attends college classes in Spokane.

The Hutsinpillers raised their children Helen and James in the house; Helen, who never married, remained in the home with her parents. Their son, James, had a daughter, Molly, who became legal owner of the property in 1996. The home was sold in 1998 to another individual, and it was purchased two years after that by the Andersons.

James Hutsinpiller still lives in Spokane. For his 90th birthday his daughter, Molly, who is an emergency room physician, brought him over to the house for a visit with the Andersons.

“There was a lot to talk about,” Anderson said. “He had a lot of memories of growing up here. We’re so glad he came – and he’s come a couple of times now. That’s nice.”

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