Location: 2616 Hillside St
Belsito House-2616 Hillside, 1942, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives
Belsito House-2616 Hillside today (2013), Photo by Deb Ross
During the late 1930s and 1940s, Trena Belsito built four homes in the neighborhood of 27th Avenue and Hillside Avenue, in the Wildwood Neighborhood of Olympia. Though not a trained architect, she copied a Georgian-Colonial-French Eclectic style home shown in Architectural Digest. She varied the design elements for each of the houses. This house, at 2616, differs from its neighbors on either side by the addition of a classical style portico. (See also Belsito (Worthington) House -2626 Hillside, Belsito (Worthington) House-2716 Hillside, and Belsito (Worthington) House-27th Ave)
Trena Belsito lived in at least two of these Wildwood homes. Her culminating work, in about 1978, was an enlargement of the same design, located on, and visible from, the Deschutes Parkway.
Trena Selvidge was born in 1908 in Olympia, the last of a very large family. Her father worked for the Bordeaux Lumber Company, and her mother ran a store, Selvidge’s, in downtown Olympia. Trena was first married, at age 17, to Leo Belsito, an Italian immigrant who operated a shoe repair shop. The Belsitos lived on the Hillside Avenue property, where she built the homes. They had a daughter, Julia, and a son, Jules. Julia died in 1939 at age 11. Shortly before this, Trena attended the University of Oregon for one year, but is later found listed in the 1940 census living with Leo, and must have begun building homes around that time. She directed the construction of and contracting for all the homes. The Thurston County assessor’s photo at above left, taken in 1942, shows the home under construction.
Belsito passed the bar in 1950. In 1958, at age 49, she married Norman Worthington. (Although some of the Wildwood Neighborhood homes are given the names “Belsito Worthington”, or “Worthington,” Trena built these homes well before she married Norman Worthington.)
National Register: Women’s History in Olympia
For more information on the Selvidge family, see the Residents section of this website. An interview with Trena can be found in the Register application for the 27th Avenue house, linked above.
Copyright © 2022 Deborah Ross