The Cutter House
The Cutter House was completed in 1893, for Mr. D.K. Stevens to the exacting standards of Kirtland Cutter, the premier Northwest architect of the 19th Century. Located in Tacoma's historic North End, the home was designed as a cottage in the Belgium Tutor style. This accounts for the unusual roof line on the cupola and turrets.
For Many years, the main roof of the house was rumored to be a spite roof. As the story went, the construction of the home was underway when construction of the apartment building on I Street started. Supposedly, Mr. Stevens was enraged and directed Cutter to build the roof of the house to the maximum height allowable to block the view. While this is an interesting story, the evidence does not substantiate it. The current owners have handwritten copies of a series of letters written from Mr. Cutter to Mr. Stevens during the construction of the house. These letters clearly demonstrate that the roof of the house was designed to accommodate Mr. Stevens's desire that "all rooms have full height ceilings, without an intrusion of the roof line inside the rooms. Cutter comments in one letter describing this design task, ". . . this is very difficult without making an unusual roof line".
The final letter from Cutter to Stevens is a letter which is still written by most architects to their clients at the end of each project. The wording has changed little in the past one hundred years. It starts "Dear Mr. Stephens, First let me apologize for the tremendous cost overruns that we have experienced in this project". Cutter then goes on to explain the changes that increased the construction costs, and concluded by saying ". . . and while $5,400.00 was substantially more than the $4,500.00 that we originally programmed for the project, you will have to admit that you have a good value". Truly a good value at today's prices, but fully 20% above budget.
A detailed history of the home is available in the Tacoma Public Library, and the Eastern Washington State Historical Library, Spokane.