Discovering the White Building Hidden in Plain Sight

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We are marking the anniversary month of J. S. White’s death on October 22, 1920, with a slideshow telling the story of his masterpiece structure located at 924 First Street that was misidentified for over 40 years.

This event will be held at Snohomish’s historic Bauer Funeral Chapel, located at 701 First Street, on Saturday, October 21st from 4:30 to 5:30p.  It’s Free, thanks to the generosity of the chapel manager Brian Halbeisen.

This presentation was presented first at the 66th Pacific Northwest History Conference: “Hidden Histories, Diverse Publics” to be held in Spokane, October 12-14th.

Of course, this story of the White Building is told in our fine art book J. S. White: Our First Architect, available here online and at the Uppercase Bookshop on 2nd Street and Avenue B. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the Bauer Chapel event.

. . . .

Karen, Warner & Otto “On-the-Air”

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A wonderful time was had by all at our book signing Sunday, July 30, at Uppercase Bookshop — and we sold seven books — thanks in large part to our Sound Living interview on KSER!

Barb and Bob were on their way out of town listening to a repeat of the show on Sunday morning when they turned around to stop by and pick up a copy. The KSER show motivated Dan and his wife to purchase a copy that will be added to Dan’s extensive collection of Pacific Northwest history. Matt from Bothell, learned about the signing on FB, stopped by to get a copy explaining that he travels a lot to visit architectural sites and wishes every community had a book like ours to describe the local treasures. Clay from Granite Falls was with us from the beginning asking twice for the ‘dark stories’ we couldn’t include in the book. Carlos showed up riding his bike in from just outside town, he quizzed Otto about his work in the book quite a while before purchasing a copy. Friend Kay and her son Ike purchased a copy and finally so did Otto’s photographer friend Dean who along with Kyra and their new puppy, who were the first to arrive.

A BIG THANKS to Ed Bremer and KSER for helping us spread the word. You can listen to the entire hour-long program below.

Book Signing Party

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With our fine art book officially released at our Gala Garden Release Party on July 13th, the 172nd Anniversary of J. S. White’s birth in Tamworth, NH, we now move forward with Book Signings and Promotional Events.

We have two to announce: First, tune in on Friday, July 28th to KSER (90.7) for the Sound Living Call-in Show. Hosted by veteran independent radio broadcaster Ed Bremer, Karen and Warner will be his guests talking about the creation of our fine art book, while photographer Otto will be standing by in Seattle to join us by calling-in — and you can too: 425.303.9070.

Second: You are invited to talk Snohomish history and photography while we sign some books on the outdoor deck of the Uppercase Bookshop on Sunday, July 30, 2-4p. Both Otto and yours truly will be on hand and it’s a grand time to purchase our fine art book and help support an independent bookstore as well as our publication. Those who have a pre-order copy are welcomed to join us for the signing.

(Thanks to Otto for setting up the group shot of the Angels & Publishers and to Karen for working the remote!)

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Finally, at a fundraiser for Congresswoman Suzan DelBene hosted in our studio, Karen presented Suzan with a signed: “as a friend of Snohomish,” copy of our fine art book, which she promises to keep on the coffee table in her DC office.

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We like that.

 

. . . .

Video: First Look!

Five Advanced Copies Arrived 5.4.17!

Carefully running my letter cutter up the space between the shrink-wrap and pages, I removed the clinging plastic and opened our book. Amazing! It looked so familiar, just as it looked in the digital files, edit round upon edit round … but the paper was so thick I had to check if two had stuck together. The clarity of the photographs was stunning, not just Otto’s but the historic images as well. These are images I know very well and they have taken on a new life in this book, on this paper and through the process of production by iocolor.  Thanks to the staff at Lucia Marquand and to all our Angels and Publishers.

My humble Thanks ~w.

Video: A Shooting Gallery?

Otto Greule

White’s corner lot next to the palace saloon is being graded for a shooting gallery. The Eye, December 22,1892.

Time has become years since I first saw the White Building basement — it was within days of reading the news of a “shooting gallery” in Snohomish’s 19th-century newspaper of record.

The long basement room was dark and empty except for a grease collection container. I didn’t bring a camera or a flashlight, always meant to return better prepared. So you can imagine my surprise when I finally returned and my host, the prep cook, Mitch, hit the light switch at the bottom of the stairs filling the basement with light.

The once level floor had mounds of dirt from adding footings for the posts with beams supporting the thick joists resting on the original granite foundation. Now the basement was a handy place to store a variety of restaurant supplies. There was a short row of sparkling water glasses on a plank sticking out of a scrap pile. Evidence of an interrupted story.

Speaking of which, there is no sign that the room was once a shooting gallery, even though it was certainly excavated for one as the paper reported. Plus, there is no mention of a shooting gallery in the papers, not even an advertisement.

Next month will feature the large room on the second floor intended to be a hospital! Would have been close by for shooting gallery accidents, but alas, neither came to be.

. . . .

So excited to report: July 13, 2017, is the release date for our book J. S. White Our First Architect, and the date of our Gala Garden Release Party for Angels and Publishers of the fine art book. July 13 is the 172nd anniversary of White’s birth in Tamworth, New Hampshire. White lived for 75 years, 36 of them in Snohomish.

If you would like to attend our release party but have yet to make a tax-deductible donation, this offer is for you: Contribute $75, come to the party and pick up your gift of the book personalized for you or yours! We need raise only $5,000 more to pay off the $21,000 cost of producing the book — your generous contribution will help.

Contribute online or by check, details are here.

. . . .

Video: “Disastrous Fire”

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Every town wishing to become a city requires a Great Fire Story in its early history and the one of 1911 is ours. Fortunately, it was documented by photographer William Douglas who was asleep in a downtown hotel room when the fire alarm sounded in the predawn hours. Backed up by his striking black-and-white photographs, it’s fun to tell the story about the fire which I have often: first here, then here. But the most rewarding telling was without the images when I led a group of Emerson third graders on a walking tour of our historic downtown and received the illustrated thank-you note pictured above.

Please enjoy this two-minute montage of Douglas’s photographs along with the story as reported in the Snohomish County Tribune on June 2, 1911.


“Disatrous Fire”

This story is included in our book about J.S. White but as a side-bar, of which there are four that use the newspaper accounts verbatim, and two of them are about fires! And speaking of our book, be sure to check out our Fun(d)raising Progress — we need your pre-order to raise the funds due when the books arrive in July.

For encouragement, I will be at the Snohomish Farmers Market on Cedar Street, every Thursday, from 3 to 7p., beginning May 4th. Every pre-order entitles you to join me for a guided Walking Tour of White’s 19th-Century Snohomish, Saturday mornings at 10a.

Questions? 206.914.4075   |   [email protected]   |   Subscribed?

3.22.17: Off to the Printer!

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Melissa Duffes’s desk shows evidence of her role as the hub of art book production at Lucia Marquand; for certain, it’s the last stop before the project is sent to the printer in China, Artron Art Group, and March 22nd was the date of departure for J. S. White Our First Architect. By the end of the month, we should have what is called a “plotter” from the printer.

Stand-by.

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APRIL 1, 2017: Angels’ Fools Party:  celebrating the passing of the J. S. White book into the hands of the printers in China. (Note empty take-out containers!) Seated is photographer Otto holding, the printer’s plotter, and behind him, from the left, is Karen, Denise with Jimmy, Terry, Janet and Mary Pat.

Up next: Five advance copies due May 17, 2017!

Video: Elwell House, 1888

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“The river has been bank full again this week,” was noted in The Eye on December 10, 1887, and it’s one of my favorite finds in the 19th-century newspaper of record for Snohomish. Consequently, the Snohomish River is the visual theme of this month’s video.

In October 2013, I wrote an article on the Elwell House with the title: “Built 1888; Divided 1913; Renovated 2013.” It’s written as a movie pitch with the hook that a new architect comes to town, Pete Hansen, who purchases the lot that contains the southern half of White’s Elwell House which requires him to separate it. Pete does and moves his half some 100 feet away, then forward toward the street, and remodels it for his family home.

This drama is mentioned in Essay #4 of J. S White Our First Architect, but the focus is on the extended Elwell family, all of whom migrated to the Snohomish valley from Maine just in time to celebrate the nation’s centennial in 1876.  John and Eliza had nine children with Edgar being the seventh, born in 1854.

The video excerpt is the beginning of the essay, Edgar has been in the logging business for ten years and he recently married his second wife, Emma.

I appreciate hearing from you and for your support.

Color Proofs: Round One!

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On January 13 of the new year, Otto and I met with Leah Finger, Production Manager with Lucia Marquand, to go over the first round of color proofs produced by Seattle’s iocolor. Leah made precise notes on the proofs like, “make better.” I learned that iocolor was established in 2001 as a sister company with Marquand Books, and Leah has a five-year relationship working with the technician/artists at the company. Otto and I were so impressed by process that I took another picture.

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Otto with Leah Finger, Production Manager, at Lucia Marquand.

We met for two more follow-up color proof sessions, each time with a smaller pile of images as they were fixed and approved.

Follow this link to visit the iocolor website, warning: the site contains beautiful books!

Video: A. M. Blackman Store, 1889

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No one today calls the Oxford Tavern, the “A. M. Blackman Store,” its original name. It would mean ignoring an oral history involving ladies-of-the-night, bar fights, and ghosts. Even the third graders from Emerson on my annual walking tour wanted to know about the ghosts. The Oxford Tavern is Snohomish’s most famous place.

blackman store Arthur M. Blackman was a young man when he built his two-story grocery store on 1st Street, considered at the time to be the largest in the county. Engaged in both wholesale and retail sales, Arthur’s operation became a victim of the national depression of 1893 and the business folded the following year.

You will learn more watching the short illustrated excerpts from Essay #6: J. S. White Our First Architect. I appreciate hearing from you and for your support.

Video: Odd Fellows Hall, 1886

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Let’s welcome the first month of the New Year with a short video clip of excerpts from our art book J. S. White, Our First Architect, featuring the second building White built in Snohomish, the Odd Fellows Hall, dedicated in 1886.

The book is in production with the Seattle company Lucia Marquand, and I had to put off writing this post until the first round of edits were complete and returned to the Editorial Director, Melissa Duffes.  It’s an exciting time learning the process of Making an Art Book that you are invited to follow on the website.

Meanwhile, check out the visual tease from the essay, about the owner’s discovery of the large plaster chandelier medallion, still attached to the original ceiling above the drop-ceiling of acoustical tiles installed in the 1950s.

Please follow this link to pre-order your copy of J. S. White Our First Architect.

Layout Design Set

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Working with our designer, Meghann, along with Otto and Susan, a layout for the book was set mid-December. Now, the process of making an art book passes to the editorial lead, Melissa Duffes, who in short order sent text proofs for editing. I’m working with a pdf copy, while editor Susan prefers a hard copy of the text. Plus, our contract with Lucia Marquand includes the services of a copy editor.

The “first text proofs” are due back to Melissa by January 12, next year!

Video: Methodist Church, 1885

We are celebrating Christmas this year in the original Methodist Church, taking us back to 1901. This is the first building J. S. White built in Snohomish, beginning in 1884, the same year he arrived with his wife and three daughters under the age of nine.

One or all of his girls could be turned toward the camera on the left, and the mustachio man on the right could be Mr. White himself? As for what’s going on on the altar, please check out this post from 2014.

This month begins a monthly video post reading from the manuscript for the J. S. White book, with cut-aways to historic images and footage of how the subject structure looks today. Perhaps we can get invited inside as we were in this case by Sharon St. Marie, owner of the Belle Chapel, its new name.

Please enjoy our first video post, your questions are welcomed in the comments below.

Please follow this link to pre-order a copy of J. S. White Our First Architect.

Meet Meghann Ney

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I met with Meghann Ney, our book designer, on Halloween for her design presentation of our book, and not one member of the small staff at Lucia|Marquand wore a costume to work.

Still exciting to get the first look at what our book is going to become. Meghann has put the framework in place before adding the text and images. Now it’s up to me to finish the manuscript in a word doc and send it along by November 7th — the day before we make history.

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Snohomish’s Famous Architect

Frances Wood

Around 1910, Ben and Nettie Morgan commissioned J.S. White to design and build a beach cabin on Whidbey Island. The story is told in the endearing memoir, “Down to Camp,” by Frances Wood, who is pictured above with the family cabin.

snohomish storiesBy 1890, it was the summer tradition among several Snohomish families to shutter their city home and board a steamship loaded down with enough supplies to last a generous part of August camping on a beach across Possession Sound. Since, for many years, the journey began by going down the Snohomish River, the annual event became known as going “down to camp,” well into the age of the automobile. At first platforms with tents were set-up on a relatively narrow shelf of land between the water and a steep bluff, then modest cabins sprouted up year after year, all in row, along a foot path still referred to as “Camper’s Row.”

Ben and Nettie purchased a lot in 1902 and around eight years later, commissioned White to build a cabin to replace their tent, a choice perhaps based on his association with Ben’s father. They christened the structure “Camp Illahee,” a word of the indigenous people carrying “a sense of home, and connections between people and living place,” according to Frances.

snohomish storiesCamper’s Row on Whidbey Island, 1914, Camp Illahee is the cabin with the flag in the center, note tents to the left. The steep bank was vulnerable to land slides, as the one pictured here, and in 2015 a major slide left the historic cabin filled with mud.

Three decades later, Frances tells us, her grandparents purchased Camp Illahee from Nettie, then married to a Taylor, who described the cabin in a letter: “… it could be rolled over and over and not come to pieces.” Regardless of this vivid pitch, Frances’s grandparents got the cabin for a low-ball offer of $1,100.

The cabin was renamed to “Drift Inn” by Frances’s parents when it was passed on to them. Fast forward through a childhood of summers spent at the beach cabin to the 1970s, when Frances and her sibling’s families are enjoying summer months at Drift Inn and the discussion of modifying the cabin comes up. The conversation involves three generations, including her grandmother Inez, the daughter of Nina and Charles Bakeman, who owned the furniture building that burned in 1893, sending the homeless city council members to White’s then-new building.

In a telephone conversation, Frances shared with me the family lore that White was given the commission because he was down on his luck and needed the work. She also remembers Inez advising the grandchildren, when remodeling, to not change the “lines” because it was designed by the famous Snohomish architect, J. S. White.

. . . .

This is an excerpt from my book in progress, “J.S. White: Our First Architect.

Milkman Finds Tam Elwell Dead

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Tam Elwell lived at 209 Avenue D, the second structure north from 2nd Street in the image above, circa 1885. Below is a blown up section of the historic image showing a gathering of men on horses and at least one carriage that we imagine is in front of Tam’s livery, which was next door to his home.

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Given the name Jacob Tamlin at birth in 1839, he was the eldest of ten children born in Maine to John Elwell and Eliza Crosby, and all ten siblings, along with their parents, migrated to the Puget Sound Country in the 1870s.

Tam and his wife Sarah gave birth to nine children, two of them after settling in Snohomish. At first, Tam worked in the family logging operations, but his passion grew to breeding horses. He is reputed to have brought the first carriage to Snohomish. By the time of his death in 1913, his livery operation on Avenue D was known throughout Snohomish County.

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Above: Tam Elwell’s livery operation on Avenue D.


Right: An ad for Elwell’s business published in a 1888 issue of The Eye. Not many early Snohomish residents could afford the expense of keeping a horse, much less, purchase a carriage. Instead, they rented a horse drawn rig when needed from a livery service such as Tam Elwell’s.


Tam Elwell was found dead in his home Sunday morning, where he had been living alone since the death of his wife Sarah, four years earlier. The obituary published in the Snohomish County Tribune on April 8, 1913, reads in part as if lifted from a mystery novel:

“The discovery was made by the milkman, who noticed that the milk he had left on Friday and Saturday had not been touched and that there were several unread newspapers on the porch. Looking through the window he saw Mr. Elwell sitting in his chair as though asleep.”

The funeral was held Wednesday afternoon at the Bakeman-Purdy undertaking parlor which was not nearly large enough to hold the massive turnout by the community. Tam was survived by five brothers, including Edgar who built his fancy home designed by the architect J. S. White, across the street in 1887; which he sold in 1901, and departed for the mines of Canada. At the time of the funeral, the home was being divided by the recently arrived architect Nels Peter Hansen, fashioning his family home in the southern half.

Tam’s body was escorted by the business leaders of Snohomish acting as pall bearers to his final resting place, alongside his wife, at the G.A.R. Cemetery, and where many of the Elwells are watched over by the steady gaze of a stone angel — one of the finest monuments on the well cared for grounds.

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Stone angel watching over the Elwells at the G.A.R. Cemetery.

. . . .

The Liberty Pole of 1892

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The liberty pole is visible in Gilbert Horton’s photograph above just right of center. The Masonic Lodge is on the left, across Avenue C from the Odd Fellows Hall. Joe Getchell’s home is on the other side of Knapp & Hinkley Livery whose roof appears on the right.

Joseph E. Getchell managed to keep his name out of the newspaper — since building “one of the finest residences in Snohomish” — until this item appeared in The Eye, February 10, 1892:

“The old liberty pole near Masonic hall was cut down this morning. It has for some time leaned toward the Getchell residence, and as the wood had begun to decay at the foot, it was felled as a measure of safety.”

According to a story in the first volume of River Reflections, published by the Snohomish Historical Society in 1976, the liberty pole was installed July 4, 1884. The Blackman Brothers, members of the Mason’s Centennial Lodge No. 25, donated the pole, a log really, which was 110 feet long, straight as an arrow with a golden ball 12 inches in diameter attached to the top. A two foot thick post was buried several feet into the ground directly in front of the entrance to the hall on 2nd Street, with 10 feet exposed above ground to which the pole was to be attached with heavy iron bands.

The raising ceremony of the liberty pole began at 10 o’clock in the morning. At 45 degrees, on its way to 90, the rigging jammed and it took the hero logger and former sailor Bill Foss climbing the rigging hand-over-hand to clear the jam-up, which he did safely, and up went the flagpole, raising to its 110 foot, highly varnished glory. At noon, the largest flag in Washington Territory was hoisted into place accompanied by the traditional gunpowder salute by the local Anvil Battery.

At some point over the eight year life of the flagpole, the Morton Post No. 10 of the Grand Army of the Republic assumed ownership and the Post demanded payment of $100 from Getchell to replace its flagpole. Getchell refused, said the pole was dangerous to his family and that he cut it down by authority of the City Council.

The Post raised another flagpole in July, several blocks up 2nd Street to Avenue A at the cost of only $20.00.

. . . .

Historic Chandelier Discovered Above Drop-ceiling

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Last month I invited readers to checkout our second essay, Odd Fellows Hall, 1886, written for a book project with photographer Otto Greule documenting pioneer architect J. S. White’s surviving structures from 19th-Century Snohomish.

It needs a new ending.

Just this weekend I’ve had the opportunity, along with Snohomish City’s Planning Manager Owen Dennison and my partner Mayor Karen, to checkout the historic lighting fixtures discovered above the acoustical drop ceiling system installed on the second floor of the historic hall.

The Eye described the interior of the hall in its April 24, 1886, issue in part:

“The floor is covered with a three-ply Brussels carpet of a very pretty figure, while a handsome burnished brass chandelier ornaments the center.”

For sure, no trace of the carpet remains, but above the drop ceiling, owners Nicole and Matt, discovered still hanging lamp fixtures — one in the center of the large open room, used for the lodge’s ceremonies, and two in the corners at the east end of the room. More research is required to date exactly the existing fixtures which are now electrically wired of course. During the era when the hall was built, 1885, it was uncertain if electric lighting would really displace gas.

With access to the attic, above the original ceiling, we would look for evidence of gas pipe installation. But one item that requires no more investigation is the floral themed chandelier medallion — it has to be original. A longer ladder will be needed to reach the medallion in order to determine what it’s made of, either wood or plaster.

My essay’s current ending, under the heading: “Building for Lease,” reads:

“The ponytailed man who renovated the historic structure in the late 1990s died, and ownership passed to his daughter in 2006. Lease negotiations with the realty company, once an owner and then a tenant for over 40 years, broke down. In 2013, both the realty company and the daycare center moved to new locations, while White’s Odd Fellows Hall sits empty and silent.

Since meeting Nicole, the “daughter” in the story above, I am happy to report that she is in negotiations with a party interested in the renting the building; and even happier to learn, that Nicole is exploring her options for historic restoration. It’s a brave intention.

We wish Nicole our best and look forward to following this story to its happy ending.

. . . .

Bids Wanted, circa 1885

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The call for bids appeared in the October 17, 1885, issue of The Eye on page three.

Wish we knew how many contractors answered the call. For all the good the Odd Fellows organization did and are doing, saving records is not one of them. In 2012, I tried to track down any records from the Snohomish Lodge and I came up empty handed except for meeting the wonderful couple of Frank and Betty Green.

From reading the accounts of circa 1885 Snohomish, I can remember coming across the names of only one contractor, A. H. Eddy; and one architect, P. Boyce — but J. S. White got the job.

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The Odd Fellows Hall, to the right of the Masonic Hall, was dedicated April 20, 1886. This scan of a newsprint photo by Gilbert Horton of the fraternal hall “face-off” across Avenue C was widely published. The Masonic Hall was built in 1879 and destroyed in 1958 by the members who sold the property as the parking lot it is today when the organization moved to it’s new building at 6th and Avenue B. Take note of the 100 foot plus flag pole, a very straight, long log, a little right of center — it has it’s own story.

. . . .

Christmas Greetings, 1901

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A newsprint copy of this rare historic photograph of a church service in progress was found in the Methodist church folder on file in the Snohomish Historical Society Archives, with the caption: “1901 was a good year to hold a Christmas pageant. This one at the First Methodist Church in Snohomish came complete with all the trimmings including ten angels on front stage. Photo, courtesy Everett Library Historical Collection.”

I contacted the always helpful David Dilgard, History Specialist with the Northwest Room at the Everett Public Library, and he sent along a digital scan of the 4×5 inch negative of an original contact print in the Snohomish County Museum collection, now the Everett History Museum. The only information listed with the negative was the same as indicated above.

As to the service captured, evidently by a hobbyist, a proud parent most likely, it’s an intriguing mystery. Something to do with Advent, I guessed, and found a service called “Hanging of the Greens” that’s celebrated on the first Sunday of the four week Advent observance. Reader’s are invited to contribute their thoughts in the comments below.

A draft of the first essay of the J. S. White: Our First Architect, The Methodist Church, 1885 is available online

. . . .

When the Methodists Moved to be Higher Than the Catholics

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Working on the first essay of the J.S. White Story this past month, it appears that John and his wife Delia, along with their three daughters, Linnie, Alice and Elise, moved to Snohomish specifically to build the newly formed Methodist Congregation its own church.

Two newspapers reported that the White arrived in February 1884. Two months later, the April 12th issue of The Eye reports: “The Methodists of this place have purchased the vacant lot on the corner of C and Third streets and will shortly erect a church thereon.” Then in November we read: “About all of the lumber for the new Methodist church, which is to be built on the corner of D. and Third streets, is on the ground, and carpenters will commence work in a few days. Its dimensions are 28×50 feet.”

Further digging revealed that joining the Whites as Trustees of the new church, were Mr. and Mrs. Mudgett; and, Isaac Mudgett was born in the same New Hampshire town as John White. The Mudgetts arrived in town in 1883 and within two years they had a home in the Clay Addition on Avenue H, just a few doors North from where the White’s would build their family home. Isaac was a bootmaker by trade, but once settled in the Snohomish Valley, he added his own saw mill to the cluster of small, family run operations around Snohomish.

Without the exchange of letters between Isaac and John, we are left with our imagination to make the connection. But it’s also a matter of common sense to think that White had a promise of work before moving his family and household goods to this remote river front town.

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THEN: The Methodist and Catholic churches along Third Street photographed by Index resident Lee Pickett in 1910, just before the Methodists moved their church higher on the hill to its current location. The Methodist’s built the second church in Snohomish in 1885; and the Catholic Church was the third, dedicated in 1889.

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NOW: (Above) Looking west down Third with the Methodist Church on the corner of Avenue B. Architectural photographer Otto Greule is capturing the structure for our book project: J. S. White: Our First Architect, in 2009.

Karen and I renovated the former St Michael Catholic Church between the years of 1994 and 2000, when we moved to Snohomish. Several times we were told the story that the Methodists’ moved their church from Avenue C, up the hill, to B because they wanted to be higher than the Catholics. We laughed and got back to work.

Can you imagine that being the reason given in the church’s history, published in 1983, celebrating 100 years?

Of course not. It was because more room was needed to add a Sunday School and three lots on the southeast corner of Avenue B and Third were purchased in 1908. Two years later, White’s gentle structure was indeed moved uphill and placed on top of a full, concrete basement, that eventually included a kitchen. Church membership numbered around 200 at the time.

It served well until the 1980s, when it was clear that the historic structure was too small and five acres were purchased northwest of Blackman Lake. The 1983 account ends with completion of architectural plans for the new church — their current home.

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Captured from the internet in a search for “moving structures with horses.” Note the dirt path that was 3rd Street in the historic photo above — it was labeled “not fit for teams” on the Sanborn Insurance maps — meaning that it would be a tough go for the Fire Department horses pulling the pump and hoses!

. . . .

White Family Arrives, 1884

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Above: Stern-wheeler Nellie at Ferguson’s Wharf, 1877.
The building behind Ferguson’s is Cathcart’s Exchange Hotel; and, the dirt path to the right is Avenue D — much improved by the the time the White family arrived seven years later.

. . . .

John S. White arrived in Snohomish aboard a slow steamer followed by a weak wake of records going back to his birth on July 13, 1845, in the small town of Tamworth, New Hampshire.

The 1870 Census recorded White living in Walnut, Butler County, Kansas, age 25, single, working as a house carpenter and living in a hotel kept by his future wife’s brother, Charles Lamb.

January 1871, John S. White married Delia R. Lamb, daughter of Galand Lamb and Lucy Weston, in Kansas. Delia was born about 1853 in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana.

The 1880 Census listed John, his wife Delia and daughters Linnie and Alice living in Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, where he was a carpenter.

White’s young family, now including a third daughter, Elise, disembarks from the steamer by way of a precarious plank connecting the ship to the wharf. There, Delia huddles with her daughters, watching, as the picturesque tableau of people who were waiting for the steamer is now animated and it’s chaos. People shouting, dogs barking, horse-drawn buggies and carts jockeying for a position to load, and operators of a dozen Indian canoes jockey for a job hauling the Boston’s cargo. The stack of household trunks and packages that John has assembled behind his family is beyond our imagination. Still, they stand, watching, frozen — for an instant, they are a living monument to evidence that there is life outside Snohomish.

The White’s new home town is a self-sustaining settlement sited in the sunshine on the south-facing bank of the river that gave this place its name. Located some dozen miles upriver from its fast growing rival, the port city of Everett on Port Gardner Bay to the west; but in February, 1884, Snohomish is not only the county seat, but it’s also home to two roller skating rinks.

. . . .

Photographer Otto Greule

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Exhibition of Photographs: Ten Surviving Structures by
J. S. White from 19th-Century Snohomish by Otto Greule

Along with the following programs at the Snohomish Library
311 Maple Avenue

Thursday, 10/23 at 7p —
“Making the Photographs”
with Seattle Architectural Photographer Otto Greule
Free including refreshments
Checkout the story in the Herald!

snohomish stories Snohomish History Buffs Rewarded with Sunshine!
Thanks to all for showing up and helping me with the expenses of this month-long event.

Sunday, 10/26 at 2p —
Guided Walking Tour of J.S. White’s 19th Century Snohomish
with yours truly — suggested donation $10, space is limited —

J. S. White’s Family Home, 1888

Above: J.S. White’s Family Home.
Built in 1888 at 310 Avenue H, John S. White, and his wife Delia (Lamb), raised their family of three daughters in this modest home. White died here on October 17, 1920, following a long illness. Seattle photographer Otto Greule captured this storybook image early one morning in 2011.

. . . .

Looking at the 1890 bird’s-eye illustration below, it could be said that all of Snohomish was built without permits. There are no construction records from this time. Only the sale and purchase of property was recorded in General Indexes maintained by the County Auditor.

A researcher has to turn to the gossip pages of the early newspapers to learn who was building what for whom. Fortunately for this researcher, my historic person of interest, J.S. White, was a busy architect/builder of businesses and homes for the leaders of early Snohomish, and his doings were noted in The Eye and later in the Snohomish County Tribune.

A favorite example is from the January 1, 1892, issue of The Eye where the arrival of council members is reported: “Councilman-at-Large White arrived next. He lives in Claytown and carries a lantern.”

A little background is required to appreciate the editor’s jibe.

js white story image
Bird’s Eye View of Snohomish, 1888.

Legally known as the Clay Addition, Claytown shows up in the bird’s-eye view above as the cluster of homes on the left-hand side. The undeveloped eight-block area between Avenues H and D is Ferguson’s 2nd Addition – lots that he was planing on selling at higher prices, it seems, once railroad travel was established in Snohomish. The “Eye Man” as the editor of The Eye referred to himself, rarely missed an opportunity to remind readers of the workings inside Ferguson’s Snohomish Land Company.

But it’s the picture created of White walking through Ferguson’s empty lots, on a moonless night, (some council meetings stretched to midnight), enclosed by a flickering aura of bobbing lantern light, that captures the imagination.



And it’s on this note that the printed version of this column will end. “Snohomish Then and Now” began publishing in the Tribune, January 2007. I appreciate the publisher and editor’s support for sharing the photos and stories of Snohomish’s then-and-now over the past seven years.

Snohomish Stories will continue here with excerpts from the book I will be writing about J. S. White. My goal is for the words to match the quality of Otto Greule’s portraits of White’s surviving structures from 19th Century Snohomish.

Otto’s work will be featured in an exhibition at our library for the month of October, 2014. Please save the Thursday evenings of October 2nd and 23rd for presentations by David Dilgard and Otto Greule respectfully.

David is our favorite carpetbagger, as he refers to himself, from the Everett Public Library’s Northwest Room, who travels frequently upriver with his magic lantern, showing and telling stories of our city’s beginnings. And on the 23rd, also at 7p., Otto will give a presentation about his process of photographing White’s structures.

Wrapping up the month long exhibition, I will led a 90 minute walking tour of J.S. White’s 19th Century Snohomish, on Sunday, October 26, leaving from the Snohomish Library Branch on Maple Avenue at 2p. sharp.

. . . .

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, September 17, 2014