Starrett House – Port Townsend, Washington - Atlas Obscura

Starrett House

The building features one of the last remaining free-floating spiral grand staircases in the U.S.  


The Starrett House is located in the seaport town of Port Townsend, Washington. The home was constructed in 1889 by George Starrett, a contractor from Maine.

Starrett, along with many other investors, traveled to Port Townsend when it was originally designated to be the terminus of the transcontinental railroad. The railroad would theoretically transform the tiny seaport town into the next major city. Starrett met and married Ann Van Bokklen while in Washington, and built the Starrett House for her as a wedding gift.

The home is a combination of Gothic, Queen Anne, and Stick Victorian architecture. An enclosed widow’s walk is at the top of the house, along with accommodations for a horse carriage at the lowest level. The interior is adorned with original frescoes. The most notable of these is the mural painted on the ceiling of the tower dome. Created by Seattle artist Otto Chapman, the fresco also acts as a solar calendar.

The mural depicts a woman, who is believed to be Bokklen, dressed in different outfits designed to represent the four seasons. The top of the tower features eight small windows on the outside, and in the center of the fresco resides a small red piece of glass. During the equinox and solstice, sunlight enters two of the small windows, creating a red arrow pointing toward the corresponding season.

The magnificent spiral staircase inside the home is a marvel unto itself. It sports a two-tiered, free-floating design and is believed to be one of the last remaining staircases of its kind in the United States.

Know Before You Go

Check the Starrett House website for booking information and special events hosted at the mansion. You can also book a room there.

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November 13, 2019

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