The son of Bellingham’s founder Captain Henry Roeder, Victor Roeder became one of Bellingham’s best-known citizens and businessmen; from 1896 to 1900 he served as Whatcom County treasurer. After his father’s death in 1902 Victor Roeder administered the family business and property, and in 1904 he was one of the founders of the Bellingham National Bank.
Victor Roeder purchased ten lots in the then undeveloped Broadway Park area of northern Whatcom. He later sold three and used the remaining seven to build his home, one of the finest in Whatcom County and on both the Local and National Historic Registry. Beginning in 1903, Roeder meticulously supervised the work over the home’s five-year construction (1903-1908).
The exterior of the first floor is brick and the remaining one and a half story is stucco. The front and rear entrances are trimmed in Chuckanut sandstone obtained from the quarry his father began. Roeder used the finest materials available for the interior. The floors, stairways, banisters, and wainscoted walls are made from imported oak. Several of the lighting fixtures are Steuben pieces that were designed for both gas and electrical use. The Roeder home also incorporates many progressive features such as a central vacuum pump, an internal fire hose system and a fuel elevator between the basement and kitchen. A huge boiler acquired from the Great Northern Railroad originally heated the home.
The plan for the first floor of the Roeder home includes a large living room, a dining room, the kitchen and a central hallway. A band of an exquisite artistic scene wraps around the dining room’s walls. Five bedrooms and three bathrooms compose the second floor, and three small bedrooms on the top floor were intended to be servants quarters.
Alfred Lee, the same architect who designed Old Main and the Whatcom Museum of History and Art designed the Roeder home. Two similar architectural styles have been used to describe the Roeder home’s stylistic mixture. The first is Bracketed Gothic and the second is the American Stick Style that has gothic overtones The projecting eaves with elaborate brackets underneath are the most prominent Stick Style features of the Roeder home. The gabled roof, however, is not pitched as steeply as other Stick Style residences.
In 1969 Dr. Donald Keyes, who bought the house from the Roeder family in 1945, dedicated the house to the Whatcom County Parks Department. The Roeder home remains open to the public and is used for different educational programs. In 1997 a wheelchair lift was proposed and added to make the house wheelchair accessible in accordance with the American Disability Act.
For more information see the Roeder (Victor A.) House National Register of Historic Places Nomination.