Location: 408 27th Ave SE
Women’s History; Local Register
|Belsito House-27th Ave House 1950, Thurston County Assessor, Southwest Regional Archives|
Belsito House-27th Ave House today (2012), Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
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. Two of them, located on Hillside Avenue, are currently on the local register. This third house was added to the register in 2016. Trena Belsito lived in at least two of the homes that she built, including this one, built in about 1948. Her culminating work, in about 1978, was a much larger home, an enlargement of the same design, located on, and visible from, the Deschutes Parkway. (see also Belsito House-2616 Hillside, Belsito House-2716 Hillside, and Belsito House-2626 Hillside)
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.
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.)