Chester Thorne, 1863-1927
Chester Thorne, the founder of Thornewood Castle, was a significant figure in the history of the Pacific Northwest. He was born in New York City to Edwin and Charlotte Thorne. After graduating from Yale and working for the Missouri Pacific Railway, he eventually found his way to Tacoma in 1890 and became one of the leading figures in the local industry and community, even co-founding the Port of Tacoma. He was also known for his genial nature, deliberate mind, and indomitable spirit.
Building Thornewood Castle
Thorne spent his life as a civic leader and encouraged the development of the Pacific Northwest region. With this industrious nature it’s not surprising that he decided to build his own castle right in the heart of the area to which he had devoted his life and career.
His fascination with the grandeur of “the old English estate" led him to create his dream house in the Tudor Gothic style. With the help of Anna, his wife, and architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter, Chester made this dream a reality in this once-in-a-lifetime estate.
Thorne collected materials from across the British Isles to build his home, transported by three ships down the Atlantic Ocean, around Cape Horn (the southernmost point of South America), and back up the Pacific to Washington State.
“He was one of this city’s best loved men, a great leader in industrial and civic enterprises, a true friend to hundreds in all walks of life. He was the father of the Port of Tacoma and to it he gave much of his time during the later years of his life, serving as Port Commissioner."
- from The Tacoma Times, October 17th, 1927
“Thirty-seven years ago he took a place in that fast-growing city’s financial life. He was not long in rising to leadership, which he maintained to the end. His interests were broad, evenly balanced between private business and promotion of civic enterprises. His activities resulted in acquirement of a large personal fortune, but his wise direction probably contributed a much vaster amount in the enrichment of his city. He was truly a pioneer in founding the business structure of Puget Sound. "
- from The Seattle Post Intelligencer, October 18th, 1927
More Historical Information on Chester Thorne
Chester Thorne was born in 1863. He died in 1927 of an illness. He was survived by Anna, his wife, Anita, his only daughter, and three grandchildren.
He graduated from Yale University in 1884 with a degree in engineering.
He was the president of The National Bank of Commerce in Tacoma for 34 years.
He helped found the Port of Tacoma and was deeply involved in many projects dealing with the development of the Pacific Northwest.