Washington home becomes historic landmark

Stephanie Gomes
The house at 312 S. Market Street became the first home with historic landmark status in the city at the city council meeting on Monday. The home was first constructed in the mid-1800s and has connections to the founder of the city, William Holland.

The letter “H” carved crookedly on a windowsill illustrates the unique history of one home that has stood the test of time.

It was etched more than a century ago by a relative of the founder of the city of Washington, and home owner Judith Wilkerson has her own theory behind it. 

“One of the Holland kids carved an ‘H’ in the windowsill upstairs,” said Judith Wilkerson, of 312 S. Market St. “He probably got a time out.”

Three months ago, Wilkerson became the first resident to nominate a home for historic landmark status with the city.

The Historic Preservation Commission, a seven member committee of area residents, adopted the

Historic Preservation Ordinance in 2008.

The final vote on the home took place at the city council meeting on Monday, when the first historic home was approved.

“We certainly see this as a worthwhile endeavor for the city,” said Jon Oliphant, development director with the city. “We would like to be able to preserve the historic structures we have for generations to come.”

The house was first constructed in the mid-1800’s and belonged to Matthew Holland, son of William Holland, who founded the city in 1925.

It was there that Matthew and his wife, Ellen, raised their three children, said Wilkerson, who owns copies of the old deeds to the home.

Additional families lived in the home before Wilkerson and her husband puchased it in 1971.

When they first moved in, she described the house as a “total disaster inside.”

But with the help of her deceased husband, who was a wood worker, the interior was transformed and restored.

From the outside, the two-story white home does not have any obvious architectural signs of a historic home.

However, on the inside, it contains some original windows, maple kitchen flooring and other

woodwork.

For Wilkerson, nominating her home for historic status was not about flaunting what she has.

“There are a lot of other houses (in Washington) that are nicer than this house,” she said. “This is just kind of a down home country house.”

Added Wilkerson, “One of these days I’m going to have to sell the house, and I would like to see its history preserved.”

Wilkerson said she and her family have always loved learning about American history.

In fact, she has a collection of items the family found on the property over the years, such as handmade nails and broken pieces of dishes.

And just a few year ago, she ventured out to locate Matthew’s tombstone in the local cemetery. 

“We always love pioneer stories,” she said.