Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Meeker Mansion: The House that Hops Built
Once exposed to the finery and adornments of royal London, Eliza became a bit dissatisfied with life in a log cabin and decided they needed a house more befitting their station in life. Ezra agreed, but only if Eliza Jane paid for it. Three years and $26,000 later, the impressive 17-room, Italianate Victorian mansion was complete and ready for occupancy.
During its years as a medical facility, the beautiful wood paneling and stenciled walls and ceilings were painted over numerous times and a dropped ceiling was added. The Society has worked diligently to restore the house to its former glory and visitors can now enjoy a glimpse of the good life in 1891. Only a few of the furnishings belonged to the Meekers, but all are from that era and the local area.
In the upstairs billiard room, there is a small display of photos showing Ezra Meeker’s many adventures after leaving the house. His concern that the Oregon Trail was disappearing due to negligence and private property development led him on a one-man crusade to mark, map and memorialize the route that had brought him West. Again, at the age of 76, he hitched up a covered wagon with oxen and this time, headed east, following the trail in reverse. During the trip, he installed rock monuments and encouraged others to do the same. He continued to Washington where he met with President Teddy Roosevelt. During his remaining years, Ezra followed the trail four more times: by wagon, automobile, and, in 1924, in an open cockpit biplane. He was planning another trip in a truck built for the occasion by Henry Ford when he passed away at the age of 97.
The Meeker Mansion is located near downtown Puyallup (between Tacoma and Renton), and is open for tours from noon to 4:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, after March 1. Admission is $4 (adults) and $3 (seniors). To learn more, visit their website http://www.meekermansion.org/ where you can view a virtual tour through the house, or by calling 253-848-1770.