Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Restoration of E.J. Roberts mansion in Browne’s Addition serves as backdrop to Mother’s Day event

A trip with mom to the E.J. Roberts mansion this Sunday will raise more than tea cups for Mother’s Day at the historic home in Browne’s Addition.

With events around two tea-and-tour ticketed sessions, proceeds will help owner Mary Moltke begin badly-needed restorations – estimated at $250,000. Free outdoor activities are planned.

It’s a joint venture of Moltke and Girls Gone Styled, a preservation and design business owned by Lisa Marie Henry and Marianne Bornhoft. They will run the kickoff fundraiser and plan to do similar, monthly events.

As its steward since 1981, Moltke has over the decades poured thousands of dollars into restoring and maintaining historic features of the Victorian Queen Anne-style home, a wedding and event venue. But it hasn’t had significant upgrades since the 1990s. Between recent setbacks and her age, Moltke said projects have piled up.

“It’s very difficult to keep up a home that was built in 1889,” Moltke said. “You’re constantly needing to paint and to restore wood trim, and it has to be done exactly the way that it was.”

Ornate details include painted faux wood grain finishes, intricate carved ceiling designs and stained glass windows.

Also called the Loewenberg-Roberts house, the 23-room mansion was designed for pioneer mercantile businessman Bernard Loewenberg, a Prussian immigrant who after financial problems traded houses in 1898 with Edward J. Roberts, who departed a nearby small home. Roberts was the chief engineer of the D.C. Corbin Railway Systems and founder of the Union Iron Works.

Moltke lives in another famous Spokane place, what was the “Benny and Joon” movie home on North Cedar. She always managed past mansion updates, until a few years ago.

“COVID set us back quite a bit because we had to stop all of our weddings and things, so we definitely need more masonry work on the building, as well as painting and replacing some of the wood structure.

“It needs shoring up from the basement. It has grown to be a lot at once at this point. The work I had done in here in the 90s now is starting to be needing replacement.”

Today, stained glass spread throughout the house needs repairs. “The lead and bracing that has held the window in place are now starting to give way.”

The furnace needs work, or replacing. Finding people to do historic work, along with material costs, are other challenges. Some of that faux finish on doors, arches and siding are “starting to come undone,” she said. In that era, artisans painted soft woods such as fir to appear as having finer “oak” wood grain.

The “Mother’s Day Soiree” fundraiser, at 1923 W. First Ave., is $55 per session – 12:30-2 p.m. or 2:30-4 p.m. – with each offering a variety of teas, finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, and artwork to purchase. Madison Stoltz, 15, who runs Snak Rabbit, plans to deliver copycat mini royal wedding cakes – elderflower and lemon curd.

Tickets, with only 80 seats total, are online at Early reservations can request limited access to a basement with a “speakeasy vibe” and 1889 pool table.

After the first hour, each soiree group gets 30 minutes for a self-guided tour inside. Several local artists, donating 20% of any proceeds, will display pieces inside for purchase, ranging from $25 to $2,450, Bornhoft said.

The free outdoor activities are noon to 5 p.m., including giant lawn games and visits with Nigerian dwarf goats inside the property’s walled “secret garden.” People can buy from outdoor food and beverage vendors, such as a “bubbly bar” and Nothing Bundt Cakes. Green Bluff’s Roosting Dairy Goats is set to bring the Nigerian animals.

Megan Duvall, city of Spokane historic preservation officer, said she was happy to hear that people are backing the house’s preservation. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Spokane Register of Historic Places.

“The Loewenberg-Roberts house is probably Spokane’s best example of the Queen Anne style – complete with a granite first floor, decorative spindle work in the gable ends and an impressive turret,” Duvall said in an email.

“It is one of our oldest homes in Spokane. Mary Moltke has poured her heart and soul into keeping the house open to the public in different forms.”

Bornhoft said she and Henry wanted to help Moltke after learning how much work the house needs.

“We call ourselves citizen preservationists, trying to help preserve Spokane and make people understand the value of our history, because these houses are treasures,” Bornhoft said.

A home restoration contractor and childhood friend of Bornhoft, Henry lives in the Dillingham house near the mansion. Girls Gone Styled began a year and a half ago.

“We’re both very big in the restoration of Spokane historic houses,” Henry said. “This is such an incredible house. Mary has done a great job of keeping it together, which is extremely difficult.”

Bornhoft, also a real estate agent, said another setback for Moltke was that she had a former wedding event planner as a tenant, “who abandoned her during COVID.”

Moltke just hopes upcoming events will pump new life into the property. Other teas, antique-farm vintage shows and children’s parties to view history are being considered. She’s known for Halloween parties. People can find events at or

“These two lovely ladies are helping me get it up and going again, because I have for, well, let’s say I’m in my mid-70s,” said Moltke, who stays in touch with Roberts descendants. She hopes to display a 1910 dress worn by Mrs. Roberts.

“It’s such a gem for Spokane. I don’t want to just let it fall to rack and ruin.

“We do have open houses quite frequently, so I do look at it as something that the public can enjoy. I just am hoping we can get the kind of finances to keep it going for another 100 years.”