509 Wood Street: An Elegant Grandmother

Research to date has taken me into post-Second World War homes. Recently however I had the opportunity to visit 509 Wood. I think of this house as an elegant grandmother – she has lived on Wood Street since 1901.

The house, built by Angus D. McKinnon, began as a log cabin. Later, a tent shack was added at the back, then framed in.

When one looks at the house from the street, additions are obvious and several gabled roofs indicate additions.

McKinnon was a businessman with many enterprises. He was a blacksmith by trade but also a miner and prospector. He was born in Prince Edward Island.

In January 1908, William A. Puckett bought 509 Wood. Puckett was also a successful businessman. Puckett staked the “Anaconda” claim in 1898.

By 1901, Puckett with five partners, shared ownership of “Rabbit Foot” and “Whitehorse” mines. By 1905, Puckett owned four roadhouses and, by 1910, owned Unsworth Hardware Store on Front Street.

Puckett had come over the Chilkoot Trail in 1899. Mrs. Puckett arrived in Whitehorse from Kentucky in 1900. At the time, she was a widow with three children. I surmise that she and Mr. Puckett had a business mind in common. When she arrived here, she opened a fruit and confectionery business on Main Street.

The Pucketts married in 1902. They operated the hardware store until the 1930s when they sold to Northern Commercial. They continued to own and operate the four roadhouses along the overland trail to Dawson as well.

From 1908, 509 Wood became known as the Puckett House. It was one of the show places in Whitehorse. Tourists, as well as locals, stopped by to admire the lovely gardens.

Joe Morrison and family bought the house in the mid-1930s. Morrison was the manager of PanAm. Mrs. Morrison ran a boarding house for single working girls in the house after her husband passed away.

The present owners, Diane Porter and Don Pilsworth, graciously lent me the “house file” they have collected over the years.

Pilsworth’s stepfather, Robert Weeks, bought 509 Wood in 1965. The house has continuously been lived in by Weeks family members since then.

Pilsworth confirmed that Weeks and Andy Hooper dug the basement around 1966. The interior remains much as it was when Weeks lived here – “If we start renovating, it will never stop,” chuckled Pilsworth.

A living room fireplace (not used now) contains copper ore tailings from the Pueblo Mine. A Manitoba maple tree graces the front yard. Weeks continued the gardens the Pucketts had developed.

Kim Henry (née Weeks) grew up in the house. She told me that Weeks did enjoy his gardens.

I enjoyed reading a memoir by Pat Ellis. She came to the Yukon in 1953 and stayed in the “Tennessee House” while she worked for General Enterprises. It is only in this memoir that Nettie Morrison is called “Tennessee”.

Ellis describes Morrison as “a woman in her 60s … {with} fiery red curly hair.” Morrison loved orange lipstick! “She always wore high heels, slacks and nylons rolled down as socks.” Ellis shared her memories after touring 509 Wood in the 2001 House and Garden Tour sponsored by Assante Templars Soccer Team.

I was very pleased to have the elegant 509 Wood share her memories with me.

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