An Open House for the historic Van Gasken ‘Red House’ Property will be held on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 1 – 3 p.m. at the house at 402 S. 222nd Street (map below).
“Join the City of Des Moines and Forterra to Celebrate the Van Gasken Property Acquisition.”
As we previously reported, the City signed an agreement with Forterra to purchase the historic property located above the Des Moines Marina, with the intention of expanding the city’s parks and open spaces as well as preserving it for permanent conservation. The property contains the former home of sawmill operator William Van Gasken, was built in 1889, and has remained in the family until it was recently put on the market.
The purchase price was $1.19 million, which was financed by Forterra.
Here’s more info from the Des Moines Historical Society:

This house overlooking Puget Sound was built in 1889 for Capt. William D. Fleming and his wife Jane. Jane, a widow with 2 children, met and married Capt. Fleming in Liverpool, England. The Fleming’s had moved to Oakland, California and Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho before settling in Des Moines.
When Mr. Fleming died Jane’s daughter, Emma, and son-in-law, William Van Gasken moved in with Mrs. Fleming. Jane Fleming died in the family home in 1919.
The Van Gasken’s were among the first permanent residents of Des Moines. A 15 year-old schoolteacher in Delaware, Mr. Van Gasken worked his way west as a camp cook. In the winter of 1886-1887 he traveled to Alaska hoping to better himself. When returning from Juneau he met his soon to be wife, Emma Rebecca Shaw. She was an English born passenger-guest on her brother’s schooner the George W. Elder. The couple married on December 4, 1888 and in 1889 moved to Des Moines to operate a lumber mill. Mr. Van Gasken operated his saw mill on Des Moines Creek from 1889 to 1892. The two moved to Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho to run Kootenai Trading Company until 1910. They returned to Des Moines in 1910 with their children (sons-Pullman, Jack, Mark E. and daughter-Harriette) and spent their lives as active members of the community. Emma passed away, a resident of Des Moines, in 1958. Their son Mark E. Van Gasken married a local girl, Gladys Case, and their son, Mark W., was the Mt. Rainier Senior High band director from 1964-1981. The house remains in the family through Harriett Bray-Peterson.


  • Onsite parking is NOT available.
  • ADA parking and shuttle service to the Open House will be provided from the Des Moines Marina north parking lot.
  • Parking at the Marina will be FREE and validated at the Open House.


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