Wilbur Drugstore Building, 1889

In the December 15, 1888, issue of The Eye, Snohomish’s 19th century newspaper of record, editor C. H. Packard wrote:

“One day this week we were shown the plans of the fine brick block which L. Wilbur will erect in the spring to replace his old drug store on the corner of first and C streets.”

The plans were those of J. S. White, whom I consider to be Snohomish’s first architect. He settled here in 1884, with his wife and three daughters, just in time to catch a front row seat on the roller coaster ride of frontier development. By 1890, White was responsible for at least nine structures, including his own home that is still standing at 310 Avenue H.

A special section of the Snohomish Sun, published in 1891, titled “Our Business Men,” wrote about J. S. White:

J. S. White, 1891“He is the architect and builder of nearly every building of note in the city. Among the residences built by him are those of E. C. Ferguson, O. E. Crossman, Mrs. Sinclair, H. C. Comegys, H. D. Morgan. etc., etc. Among the business blocks and fittings put up by him are Wilburs, Burns, A. M. Blackman’s […] and all these buildings are after his own plans.”



Lot Wilbur’s new drugstore was not finished until the following fall, several months beyond his expectations — some things never change in the construction business. The Eye reported on October 19, 1889:

“Contractor White, expects in a few days, as soon as he completes the Wilbur block to commence the erection of a handsome and commodious new residence for Mr. O. E. Crossman on the latter’s Avenue B property (320)….”

Busy man.

Last month, I introduced you to the work of Seattle photographer Otto Greule, with his image of the Odd Fellows Hall, and told you of our project to document the surviving structures designed and built by J. S. White. The Wilbur Drugstore Building — the second brick building in the county, a boastful edifice marking the economic success of Wilbur’s Remedies — is one of White’s most important commissions. It is not ready for its close-up.

Wilbur Drugstore Building today

Now: American Legion Post 96, (1201 First). The architectural celebration of a boom time in early Snohomish has been banished to the second floor by an expedient store front alteration.


Sad to say, a photograph of the Wilbur Drugstore Building will not be included in a publication honoring the work of White, and the 19th century architectural heritage of downtown Snohomish, due to its obvious need for historic restoration.

The structure will be 125 years old in 2014, and I challenge members of the American Legion Post 96 to set this date as a goal to gift their community a restored Wilbur Drugstore Building.

[singlepic id=157 w=260 h=163 float=right] Goodwill Tour, 1912.
“You can’t miss Snohomish if you come over the Milwaukee,” read the white ribbons worn by the men. (Click image to enlarge.) They are posed in front of the historic Wilbur Drugstore Building, then the depot for the new Milwaukee Road Railway, which I wrote about here.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, December 26, 2012.

4 thoughts on “Wilbur Drugstore Building, 1889

  1. KJG

    Hi Warner,

    Did you know that the Lot Wilbur Drug Store front step is the starting reference point for many old surveys and plats in town?

    Keep up the great work, I really enjoy reciving your e-mail and reading your accounts of Snohomish History.

    Thanks!

    Kathleen Gamble

  2. warnerblake

    Very interesting … news to me. What’s your source please? And thanks for the kind words.

  3. BooBoo

    This is amazing! I just found a bottle digging in my yard that said: Lot Wilbur Druggist Snohomish, Wash. Now I know where it came from 🙂

  4. warnerblake

    Happy to hear it … can you take a photo and attach it to a reply message, please?

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