Submitted by Mike Larson.
One of Pierce County’s most historic properties has been listed for sale for $3.25MM.
The Thornewood Carriage House, built in 1909 by prominent banker Chester Thorne, is part of a 100-acre assemblage built for Thorne that also included the more-famous Thornewood Castle and the Thornewood Gatehouse.
Virtually everything in the 6,400+ square foot home is hand-made, hand-carved, or hand-crafted. A priceless collection of antique glass windows dates to the late 1600s. All the exterior doors are four inches thick and crafted from centuries-old lumber. The Rosa Levanto marble fireplaces date to the late 18th century. One of the book cabinets in the library was a re-purposed wine bar from the 1700s. The entire home comes from a time when things were made from hand and people took pride in what they made.
“Each and every element in my house has been hand-crafted and lovingly created,” said Jonn Mason, the owner of the property. In 1978, he had architectural plans and was ready to build a home on Lake Steilacoom when a Realtor called him and told him about the Carriage House. He saw the property and bought it.
For Mason, the decades-long care, restoration, and improvement of the property has been masterfully done through the lens of an artist. “It sounds silly, but it’s similar to how a mother nurtures a newborn”, he said.
Mason said he grew up with a father who expected perfection. “Nothing is perfect, but I’m aiming for that goal” he said. “The pursuit of perfection has guided me to find the artisans that have helped create this home.”
The property has been the forefront for Mason ever since he purchased it 43 years ago. The improvements have been made by Mason and artisans, and the home’s transformation from project to near perfection has happened over those years. “You wouldn’t have believed what this place looked like when I bought it,” he said, noting it was being used as a duplex. Mason gutted the property and virtually every element of the 100+ year old home has been improved or replaced or restored over the years. An entire year or more was spent creating every room.
“I surrounded myself with people who were much more talented than me,” he said. “The timing and enhancements to the property were dictated very much by when pieces and artisans became available,” he said.
He admits that the home may not appeal to everyone. “It’s very eclectic,” he said. The exterior is English Tudor. The interior combines Baroque, French, English and Italian design. The home contains a priceless collection of restored antique gas light fixtures that have been converted to electric. The stained glass in the front window came out of an historic school in Leeds, England. The over-mantle is made from 17th-century hand-carved French Oak purchased from a building being demolished in Chateau Thierry France. It was built in 1600. The stories go on and on. The kitchen and fitness room pivot to the practical and functional and are classic and contemporary.
The home looks old and classic, but functions like a new home. Smartly updated and fully functional, the engineering of the systems of the home is state-of-the-art. The shy acre includes a guest house over the huge, detached garage and finely manicured grounds.
It’s a short walk to your dock on American Lake where your boat, jet skis, and float plane can easily be moored. Tacoma Country & Golf Club, the oldest golf club in the West, is literally next door, and the largest equestrian center in the state is just a few minutes away. Geographically convenient to everything, it’s within an hour drive to Seattle or Bellevue, 30 minutes to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and the state capitol.
Mason said the home is the product of a childhood fantasy and a perfectionist upbringing. “As a kid I loved castles, forts and European palaces,” he said. “Nothing is perfect, but that’s what I’ve been striving for. In creating this place, I’ve just been indulging myself all these years,” he said.
“The property is as much a museum as it is a residence,” said Compass agent Amanda Shepherd, co-listing broker along with Mike Larson. “Literally every room has an artistic or historic component. It’s truly one-of-a-kind and would be impossible to rebuild or replace,” said Shepherd.
Mason, 74, acknowledged that his age has made it more difficult to maintain the property and its grounds. “Because of my age, the enjoyment for me is decreasing,” he said. “Unfortunately, the size of this place makes it less and less a good fit for me,” he said.
He admitted that the void that will be created when the property sells will be impossible to fill, but he’s ready to pass the torch and move on. “Ideally, the person who buys this home will understand and appreciate it,” he said. “So much of this place has things that most people aren’t even aware of. Whoever buys it will discover wonderful new things about this property for years to come,” he said.
Included on the National Historic Registry and recognized as an Historic Landmark, the property was designed by renowned Pacific Northwest architect Kirtland Cutter.
Showings can be arranged by calling Shepherd or Larson at 206-883-8710 or 253-209-1572.