One way to tell history is to feature historic places or buildings. Every place has a past and it is good to be reminded of it occasionally. The American Legion building on 88th Ave NW (north of Rite Aide) has an interesting story. Its unusual mission style stucco makes it very unique for the area. It was built in 1940 as the East Stanwood City Hall and civic center. It was planned with a large auditorium and annex for commercial club and smaller meetings, a council chamber, modern kitchen, fully equipped, a stage, men’s and women’s rest rooms, cloak rooms and an entrance lobby.
American Legion Post
The Legion Hall (former city hall) was built under the direction of the Works Progress Administration (W. P. A.) with a government allotment of $11,775 and a 30 mill levy furnishing the balance for a total of $19,176. For those who are not aware, this part of town was then called East Stanwood and was separately incorporated from Stanwood, which was the area north of the current Twin City Foods.
Juleen photograph of the East Stanwood Commercial Club that ran East Stanwood before it incorporated.
This building replaced the former two-story East Stanwood Commercial Club building on that site which burned in July of 1938. The fire was fought by both the East Stanwood and Stanwood fire departments. The late Harold Klett remembers being thrown from the roof of the hall when fighting the fire. The pressure of the hose he was carrying suddenly catapulted him off his feet and he was slightly injured.
This early Commercial Club building was built in 1920 to “function as a force in fostering a better and higher community spirit. It was to function as a social and recreational center to help knit the community in a more closely related spirit of cooperation. Hundreds in the community have attended dances given in the Yankee ballroom—the name given to the dance room.” (East Stanwood Sun, July 28, 1938) At that time there was much dissention in the community over the operation of the schools and other amenities and two years later East Stanwood, the area around the railroad depot, would incorporate as a separate town. Some of the early story of the Commercial Club is recounted in The Stanwood Story by Alice Essex (vol. 2, pp. 27-29, 32,44,46, 58, 60 & 84.)
In 1960, the two towns consolidated because of the need to pool funds for a sewage system and other public works. Two years later the City Hall building was sold to the American Legion for $10,500. The Hall is still an active community organization, known as the Frank Hancock Post No. 92 of the American Legion.
Updated from Stanwood Area Echoes #24 article published in 2003.
Francis Giard, First Mayor of East Stanwood, 1922 – 1931
The City of Stanwood is planning to create a gallery of portrait type photographs of the Mayors of Stanwood and East Stanwood to be on “permanent” display at City Hall. They have asked us for their help. The City has some photographs of recent mayors but some past mayors are missing. And we (SAHS collections) have a few to add.
D. O. Pearson, First Mayor of Stanwood, 1903 – 1905, 1912-1915
But to complete the gallery, we are taking the unusual step in asking the public to help us locate copies of portrait type of photographs from this list (pdf).
Can you help?
Here is small group of photographs of past mayors in the SAHS collections.
The Camano Island Cornet Band was one of the popular local bands that played community events. Judging by the style of photo and other details, they played around 1910.
These bandsmen pictured in this special photographic postcard are Lester Nelson, Arthur Einarsen, Harold Knutsen, Oscar Bodine, Ernest Einarsen, Sophus Borreson, Levi Thompson, Olaf Knutsen, Carl Land, Pete Wold and T.W. Magelssen. They are perhaps not unlike the current South End String Band scheduled to play Feb 7th at the Floyd.
Not much is known about them, so if you have information about them, please let us know! The names were listed in the “Stanwood Story” by Alice Essex, v. 2 p. 100
Christmas toys were a bit different in 1938 – these presents were collected and repaired for poor children in Stanwood and the surrounding area. The men in the photograph are Phillip Olsen, Hugo Fischer, Tom Hendershot, Harold Benjamin and Lawrence Stovner.
Imagine yourself on a slow – moving steamboat plying the waters of Puget Sound and as you are passing through the South Pass of the Stillaguamish River you look out to see the cluster of buildings in the banner photograph (above). This photograph was adapted for our new SAHS website banner and is an edited digital copy of one of the earliest photographs of Stanwood taken by Gilbert Horton from his Palace Floating Gallery. Horton was among a few itinerant photographers who was taking photographs in early Washington State at the time. (Read more about Horton here on Historylink…)
The photograph was taken in 1886 showing the waterfront and wharf with its earliest commercial buildings. At this time the main channel of the Stillaguamish River flowed past what is now Stanwood’s historic waterfront (occupied currently by Twin City Foods and several other businesses). This was before the railroad came through in 1891 and when almost all transportation took place by steamboats.
This view shows the Stanwood Store owned by D. O. Pearson from South Pass, a branch of the Stillaguamish River that emptied into the shallow Port Susan. Steamboats and other shallow bottomed boats could navigate the Stillaguamish River’s West or South Passes on a high tide all the way up to Florence, another growing community upriver. Over the last century (after cleared log jams and several floods) the main channel of the river slowly diverted itself directly south through what was historically known as Hatt Slough to Port Susan.
The photograph was later published in the 1906 “The Illustrated History Skagit and Snohomish County“, a subscription biography and history proudly honoring successful farmers and businessmen who could afford to have their biographies featured as prominent pioneers in this 1000+ page publication.
Cabinet card photograph of Stanwood when Washington was still a Territory. It was taken about 10 years after D.O. Pearson established his store and built the wharf. The mill at Utsalady on Camano Island was still a major economic force in the area but settlers were slowly displacing the Stillaguamish Indians who lived on this delta for centuries.
–Karen Prasse, SAHS volunteer