Tacoma heirloom; Historic trophy: Pacific Northwest prize has been passed around since 1895

The News Tribune; Tacoma, Wash.
July 21, 2002
by Bart Ripp

It stands 11 inches high.

It is a silver cup with no embellishment except engraved names of people.

It is brought out on a July weekend and awarded to the men's singles champion at the Pacific Northwest Open at Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club.

It is cherished for heritage. The Chester Thorne Cup is older than the Davis Cup - named for Harvard student Dwight Filley Davis, who started a tennis tournament in 1900 at Boston's Longwood Cricket Club.

"The Thorne Cup is an heirloom," tournament co-director Mimi Hackleman said.

"It's been kicking around since 1895," tournament co-director Paul Keller said. "No place around here has anything like it."

Tennis luminaries who competed for the Davis Cup also played in the Pacific Northwest Open. They include Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Bill Tilden, Rosie Casals, Maureen Connolly, Don Budge, May Sutton, who was the first American to win at Wimbledon in 1905, and Tacoma's Patrick Galbraith.

Arthur Ashe played an exhibition match and umpired at the Pacific Northwest Open while stationed at Fort Lewis in 1966.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about the tournament's earliest winners. The tournament started in 1891.

Those names on the Thorne Cup start in 1895. The cup's first winner was J.F. Foulkes, whose name is Foulkes in the club archives and Fowlkes on the trophy. He defeated the gloriously named Lancelot Kelly, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 4-6 and 6-1, on Aug. 17, 1895.

Neither Foulkes/Fowlkes, who won the cup in 1897 and 1899, nor Kelly are listed in 1890s city directories for Tacoma or Seattle.

More is known of Chester Thorne. His English ancestors came to America in 1648. He grew up comfortably in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the son of Edwin Thorne, a wholesale leather broker who retired to his Millbrook, N.Y., estate, called Thorndale, and raised trotting horses.

Chester Thorne earned an engineering degree from Yale. He had the smarts to marry Anna Hoxie, niece of H.M. Hoxie, who ran the Missouri Pacific Railway Co.

In 1890, the Thornes moved to Tacoma. Chester invested in the National Bank of Commerce, survived a dreadful banking depression in 1893, and made tons of money by consolidating his bank with two others to form National Bank of Tacoma in 1913.

Thorne helped start the Port of Tacoma, organized Rainier National Park Co. at Mount Rainier, worked to develop the plan to donate prairie land for a military camp that became Fort Lewis, and built one other relic that bears his name.

Thornewood, a 31,000 square-foot, 40-room Tudor Gothic mansion on American Lake in Lakewood, was designed by Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter. Thornewood took four years and $1 million to build, is adorned by gardens designed by the Olmsted brothers of Boston, and survives as one of the Northwest's legendary residences.

Thorne tended his finances, played golf and died at age 63 in 1927. His daughter Anita had the great fortune to marry someone named Cadwallader Colden Corse, who lost his right eye in a shooting incident at Thornewood three weeks after Chester Thorne's death.

The Thorne Cup is not so flamboyant. It stands on a black base that supports two additional silver bands. These additions, like hockey's Stanley Cup, proclaim the names of recent champions.

The Thorne Cup and 10 other Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club cups and bowls, including the Peggy Haley Cup, a silver trophy commissioned for the women's singles champion in 1972 and etched with herons, spend most of the year in a vault at LeRoy Jewelers in Tacoma.

In eight years, another band will need to be added, to allow room for a half-century of champions' names.

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Bart Ripp: 253-597-8678


Caption: BW PHOTO / Bruce Kellman | The News Tribune: The Chester Thorne trophy has been awarded annually to the men's singles winner of the Pacific Northwest Open Tennis Championship at the Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club since 1895. BW PHOTO / Bruce Kellman | The News Tribune: Paul Keller transports the antique trophy from a jeweler's vault to the club.; Credit: Bruce Kellman/The News Tribune


Copyright Tacoma News, Inc. Jul 21, 2002
Credit: The News Tribune