Something from the file marked eccentric but partially explainable…In 1900 Erastus and Kate Walker moved to Tacoma. He a just retired Army Major and regimental band leader and she a professional cellist. While Kate toured with her family orchestra led by her famous father Albert Pieczonka, Erastus designed and built a Castle of Music at 1023 North Oakes. He conceived a hybrid structure part concert hall, part ship and part residence and from its harmonic decks he practiced and taught music, conducted the choral department of the Ladies Musical Club of Tacoma, studied the sonic forces of harmonics as a source of world peace and offered psychic readings. Meanwhile Kate, whose stage name was Mdm. Kaethe Pleczonka, performed in Europe, lost track of their infant son Max as well as her two children from a previous marriage and then settled in the Dream House with Erastus. In 1911 at 63 Erustus died in his reclining chair at the Oakes Street castle¬†and two days later Kate noticed. By then she had found Max and was boarding him at St. Martins Academy but by the age of 16 he became an accomplished full time performing criminal, achieving residency in Folsom prison in California and then escaping from a similar situation in Montana. Back in Washington he and some friends blew up a post office safe in Port Townsend which earned him 10 years at Leavenworth. Upon graduation from the federal prison he mastered bootlegging but hit a tree in Bakersfield during a car chase, ending his career and life abruptly at the age of 35.
Meanwhile his more colorful celebrity mother, living in the castle in Tacoma hosted musicals, labor meetings, athletic events and seances until losing the sinking ship house to the taxman during the depression. She was struck and killed by a streetcar in Long Beach California while carrying her cello into a pawn shop in 1938.
The Castle was torn down about that time, a last movement in a symphony of oddness. If you want to go deeper I suggest you listen to Kate’s father’s most famous piece of music, a tarantella. Its a perfect soundtrack for this story. Here it is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQBbju3QQrU

Written by tacomahistory

This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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