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The Stimson-Green Mansion

The Stimson Mansion, later the Stimson-Green Mansion, designed and built by Spokane Architect Kirtland Cutter, for Charles D. Stimson and his wife Harriet Stimson was started after The Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, and completed in 1901. The Mansion was and remains one of Seattle's most impressive examples of eclectic architecture, and is a beautifully preserved example of a fashionable turn-of-the-century Seattle home. The mansion is located at 1204 Minor Avenue on First Hill, Seattle, Washington. One of the few surviving substantial First Hill homes to have survived in its original form, the Stimson-Green House today provides the rare opportunity to visit residential life in early 20th-century Seattle. The house's exterior half-timber work, and stucco surfaces, its steeply pitched roof, its many ornamented wooden gables, and pointed arches, casement windows with diamond-shaped leaded panes, and elaborate chimneys, is stylistically medieval English Tudor. However, the interior rooms combine elements from various historical styles including Moorish, Romanesque, Gothic, Neoclassical, and Renaissance. Spokane Architect Kirtland Cutter was well known for his attention to detail and free use of historical styles. The elegant, 10,000-square-foot interior included paneled wainscoting, a dining room frieze, and a library fireplace surround that featured a pair of hand-carved lions. Each room in the Stimson mansion reflects a different architectural style, especially on the building's first floor, its most public story. If the front entry hall directly reflected the building's exterior, the visitor might expect exposed rough-hewn rafters and rustic lanterns common to English Revival styles like the Tudor. The street facing entry leads to a central hallway that extends from the front to the back of the house, into an elaborate dining room. This direct view from the front door is dramatic and is one of the house's most obvious theatrical contrivances. The grand entry hall, vaulted ceiling, with highly finished, exposed beams and a richly painted canvas surface, its oak-paneled wainscoting, and carved pillars. The entry hall also features wall coverings of gold leaf and hand-painted heraldic devices on canvas. The red and gold painted details include stylized lions and curving tendrils. A round arch supported by multiple small columns gathered together, is a distinctive characteristic of the Romanesque style, frames the view toward the dining room. The large hall connects each of our major function rooms, creating an open feeling with natural flow. This floor plan entices guest to mingle and enjoy the company and surroundings. A doorway on the left side of the entry hall leads to Mrs. (Harriet) Stimson's tea and reception room. Harriet Stimson would receive visits from her local friends on Thursdays, a time coordinated with other women in the neighborhood. The style of the room is often called French Empire or simply "Empire." Classical elements like those seen in the curved ceiling elements of this room were common to this style. Empire is a streamlined version of classical revival. Details are delicate, and wood surfaces are generally painted white. The refined marble fireplace and mantle of this room provide a striking contrast to the fireplace in the library lying on the opposite side of the front entry hall. The elegant library is saturated with Gothic details, and is larger than the tearoom. In Victorian fashion, the many intricate elements of the library are dark and wooden, and the fireplace surround is a strong and imposing centerpiece, with a pair of hand-carved wooden lions holding shields, and metal dragon andirons. The bookcases resemble windows in a Gothic church due to the architect's use of pointed arches and intricate detailing. A stage area rises on the East Side of the library and leads into the central hallway and the dining room. The Stimson children used this space to recite poems or put on theatricals with neighborhood children. An upright piano stood on stage as accompaniment. The dining room's warm sycamore paneling and elegantly carved mantle are offset by its indigo glass tile fireplace surround and a narrative frieze running just below the ceiling around the entire room. The frieze illustrates a Renaissance era king and court feasting and quietly reveling. The scene is painted on corduroy, which helps the work resemble a tapestry. The dining room lies near the house's kitchen and a dumbwaiter, which moved heavy trays and services between the building's four levels, basement including wine cellar, the formal first floor, the sleeping, private second floor, and the third or servants' floor. The house's first cooks used a coal-burning oven. The servants' floor had a separate stairway that led to the pastry and serving pantries, and to the kitchen. One of the most extravagant rooms in the Stimson mansion was inspired by Eastern traditions. In the basement, conveniently located near the wine cellar and the billiard room, is a Moorish style smoking room created for men interested in card playing, conversation, and brandy drinking. The ochre colored bottle glass windows and Middle Eastern lanterns enhance the dark and exotic feel of this room. The fireplace is brick, with a Moorish arch, wide but pointed, above the mantle. As in all the rooms, Cutter carefully selected the original furniture and drapery to reflect the room's theme. The house was purchased, and rescued from demolition, by Historic Seattle in 1975. Working with Historic Seattle, the city's Landmarks Preservation Board guaranteed preservation of the mansion's exterior and significant interior spaces. The next decade saw several different owners. The home was listed on both the state and national historic registers and designated a City of Seattle landmark.