Family Mansion – 1886
The Meeker Mansion is an American Bracketed Villa from the golden age of Puyallup. The building was conceived by Eliza Meeker and designed by Ferrell and Darmer, Architects of Tacoma.
Work began in 1886, and by 1890 it was finished enough for the wedding of their youngest daughter, Olive, on October 15th.
The Mansion features hand-painted ceilings, stained glass windows at the two entrances and many different species of wood in the interior. Ezra Meeker wrote that the exterior finish was three tons of white sand blown onto three coats of linseed oil, a finish which frustrates painters to this day. Paint analysis shows the colors of the building today as those of the original, but an article in the Tacoma Ledger in 1893(?) stated that Ezra had repainted his home a single color – and added the editorial comment that it was about time.
Soon after the building’s completion, the hop crisis and the panic of 1893 made a serious dent in Mr. Meeker’s financial condition. From 1903 it was for sale, and the record includes several transfers within the family, for unspecified financial reasons. While Ezra was on the road between 1906-8, on his Old Oregon Trail Monument Expedition, a Mrs Graham rented out rooms to boarders.
Mansion Sold – 1912
After Eliza’s death in 1909, Ezra walked away from the building, leaving it in the hands of a daughter and son-in-law to dispose of. About 1912 it was leased to be used as a hospital.
In 1915 it was sold to the Washington and Alaska Chapter of the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, a civil war widow’s organization, to be used as a home for widows and orphans.
During this period it was extensively changed, with outbuildings and fire escapes added.
Here is the extract from the 1925 Puyallup phone book:
“Ten years ago Mrs Fannie Haskell, Mrs Tillie Bartell, Mrs Carrie Peterson and Mrs Rose Houghton, all ardent members of the Ladies of the G.A.R. determined to establish a home for the Wives, Widows, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters or Nieces of Veterans of the Civil War.
They succeeded in securing the aid of the Puyallup Chamber of Commerce and their first efforts (sic) was a benefit entertainment in the Stewart Theatre from which they realized 500 dollars, this constituted the first payment on their home, the old Ezra Meeker Mansion on Pioneer Ave East. Mrs Haskell was successful in interesting our State Legislature in their cause to the extent of appropriations of $1,500.00 at two different sessions and $3,000 at another to clear the indebtedness on the home which cost $8,000. They now have 35 inmates and are very much crowded.
Contractors are now bidding on an addition to the hospital and dining room. There are 32 different Ladies of the G.A.R. organizations over the State as well as other societies and individuals that contribute to the upkeep of the home. It is a worthy undertaking and is being well taken care of by Mrs. Haskell.”
Nursing Home – 1948
In 1948 the GAR women sold it to the first of a series of doctors who used it as a critical care nursing home. During this period the ceilings were painted over, dropped ceilings installed, and exterior detail was removed prior to the installation of asbestos siding.
Restoration – 1970
In 1970, after a false start, an organization was formed to take possession of the building and move it, as the land on which it stood had been sold to be a parking lot for an adjacent business. Thankfully the early society failed in its attempts to move the building, and through heroic efforts, the original property was bought back. Restoration began almost immediately.