A Unique Victorian House & Garden
410 North First Street
Dayton, Washington 99328
Summer May- September:
Garden Hours: Daylight hours
The original house, built in 1880, started as a small three-room home. Joseph and Rosine Woldstein owned it until 1883, when it was sold to John and Ella Brining. John Brining was a respected Dayton man who started in the sheep business, became a salesman with the Dayton Woolen Mill, later was a retailer, and then moved into real estate. He was elected to the city council, served as City Treasurer, and donated land for the city hospital.
By 1891 Brining had enlarged the house by adding a two-story section, a basement, and extending the back of the house. The house was sold to Oath Long in 1900, then to C.C. Hubbard in 1904.
Sometime between 1896 and 1909 the bay windows, the second floor balcony, and the entry foyer were added. This additions reflect the Queen Anne style popular at the time, and make the house the graceful Victorian home we see today.
In 1912, Stephen A. Boldman and his wife, Blanche Porter Boldman, purchased the house. Stephen was a local farmer; he and Blanche moved with their four daughters – Minnie, Marie, Goldie, and Gladys – from their Columbia County farm to the house in town.
For the next 87 years, the Boldman family lived in the house. Minnie, the oldest daughter died in the flu epidemic of 1919. When Mr. Boldman passed away in 1954, Goldie and Gladys, the youngest daughter, were the only remaining family members and they continued to live in the house.
In 1999, Miss Gladys M. Boldman, the last surviving member of the family, died at the age of 91 and left her estate to the Dayton Historical Depot Society. Miss Boldman’s will directed that her home be restored to its original (1912) condition, and that it become a community resource and educational “showplace”.
A Boldman House Committee, established by and under the direction of the Dayton Historical Depot Society, continues to carry out Miss Boldman’s requests. The house remains much the same as it did in 1912 and is one of Dayton’s significant examples of the Queen Anne style. The only changes are a new entrance to the basement, and the back rooms were remodeled to serve as a museum office and storage area.
The house and its contents form an extraordinary and unique time capsule. Because everything in the house belonged to one nuclear family of savers, the variety and volume of these artifacts give a unique and detailed history of a family and how they lived and interacted with the community and the changing times.
Artifacts Architectural Consulting of Tacoma guided the restoration and needed repairs of the structure. Dedicated volunteers received training and attended seminars to learn how to preserve and care for the collection. Caring for and preserving the 130+ year old house continues. Cataloging and care of the extensive collection of artifacts is still underway.
Born in 1908, Gladys M. Boldman was four years old when her family moved to the Dayton house. She graduated from Dayton High School
in 1926 1/2, and then attended business college in Walla Walla. Miss Boldman became a career woman, starting as a secretary at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in 1930. She later worked as a secretary/bookkeeper at the New Governor Hotel and the Olympian Hotel in Olympia, and the Boise Hotel in Idaho. Of the four Boldman daughters, Gladys was the only one to leave home. By the 1940s Mr. and Mrs. Boldman along with older sister, Marie, were ailing and Gladys came home in 1946 to help her sister, Goldie, care for them.
Although Goldie and Gladys were quiet and reserved, they were active in Pythian Sisters and did seasonal work at the Dayton Green Giant cannery. Both were proud of their pioneer heritage and community roots, and enjoyed traveling. Gladys particularly liked Switzerland.
Miss Boldman lived in the family home until just before her death at 91 years old. Besides the bequest to the Dayton Historical Depot Society, her will also bequeathed funds for the care and preservation of the Pioneer Cemetery just outside of Dayton. Miss Boldman, together with her family, is buried there.
The Boldman House Garden Committee, an all-volunteer group dedicated to the restoration of the Boldman grounds, developed a complete garden plan in 2002. The garden is styled to replicate a 1910-1920 era American garden.
The committee worked from the garden plan and from information received from Miss Boldman before her death. The plants are heirloom species. Occasionally, improved varieties had to be substituted in order to provide more disease resistance.
Donation by gift and in memory of loved ones funded the garden project and funds from the Boldman House Self-sustaining Endowment provide for maintenance of the grounds.
The garden serves as an educational resource for visitors to learn more about the history and requirements of the plants and about American gardening in this climate. An informational brochure lists the plants, their placement in the garden, and the names of the donors.
During the removal of wallpaper, the Society discovered that the wallpaper had been installed on muslin over wood plank walls. The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum helped identify the age and origin of the papers. The rosebud-strewn paper in the upstairs bedroom was purchased from Sears in 1925. The stairwell and kitchen papers date to the 1890s, which is when the house became a Queen Anne Victorian.
Samples of the faded original wallpapers were reproduced by Wolff House Wallpapers. Jim Yates of Historic Wallpaper Specialties, who specializes in installing wallpaper on muslin, was contracted for the installation. The stairwell paper was installed to duplicate the original paperhanger’s work.
Stephen Boldman bought a 1934 Chevrolet Master Deluxe sedan after a two year search for a replacement for his 1917 Huppmobile. According to daughter Marie’s diary, car dealers from Dayton and neighboring communities tried to sell him a car, even bringing cars to the house for the family to try out!
Stephen and Marie were the main drivers and after they both passed away in the early 1950s, Goldie and Gladys were infrequent drivers. It seems that they stopped driving in the late 1960s and later sold the car in 1977 to Richard G., a hometown fellow that was living on the west side of the state. One of the stories that his family tells is that he had promised the Boldman sisters that if they wanted the car back, he would sell it to them.
The Boldman House Museum is extremely grateful to Richard and his family for offering us the first chance to buy the car when they decided to sell the car.
The museum manager and two intrepid volunteers brought the car back to Dayton in May 2017, and we were proud to add it to our collection and show it off to museum visitors as well as drive it in local parades!