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.
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.
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.