snohomish then and now image

Gorham House, circa 1915

This month’s historic image emerged from a slowly decaying glass plate negative at this time because of an inspired initiative by the Sno-Isle Libraries to “Digitize Our Community’s History.”

The Snohomish Historical Society was selected as a partner along with our local library branch to select historic images from our collection for a featured online presence at As volunteer archivists for the Society, Kathleen Lince and I jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the libraries’ expertise and equipment to finally scan our extensive collection of glass plate negatives.

The number scanned reached 135. A few we recognized from existing prints, but most are mini-mysteries to be solved. One thought is to publish an interesting selection of these unknown images online in a quest for information, perhaps even identification.

snohomishthenandnow imageOur favorite finds will be featured in this column for the next several months, beginning with this month’s knockout image of the Gorham House, 404 Avenue D, taken around 1915, most likely by a hobbyist photographer. (Prepared glass plates for the “prosumer,” to use a modern word, were available into the 1920s.)

Charles Wesley Gorham, born in New York City, worked with his father as a printer in South Dakota. Moving west on his own, Charles purchased the Index Miner and the Snohomish Tribune in 1893. He was only 27 years old. Around this time, he was one of the leaders organizing a company of the Washington National Guard. Yet, in a confusing combination of events, he withdraws his name when nominated as a 1st Lieutenant, thus “ending the first bloodless battle of the Snohomish militia,” reported his own newspaper, June 13, 1895.

Moving on to a more longer lasting adventure in his life, Charles married Elsie E. West in a June wedding in 1901, the same year that he gave the presentation speech when the Woman’s Book Club transferred the public library to the Snohomish City Council.

Their gracious home was built in 1902 by the popular contractor, Nels Hansen. They raised three children in the home, Harlan West, Helen Margaret, and Elaine Standish — who must be the children pictured in our image — making its discovery a true historic treasure.

Charles, who served three terms as a Republican in the state legislature suffered a stroke while in Olympia, was paralyzed, and died a year later, October 22, 1919, at home. His wife, Elsie, shared the grand home with her grown children off and on, until her death in 1946. The couple are buried side-by-side in the G.A.R Cemetery.

Then and Now animation
Then: The Gorham House, c.1915 | Now: The Mester Home, 404 Avenue D

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, November 20, 2013

4 thoughts on “Gorham House, circa 1915”

  1. Such a gorgeous home inside & out and fascinating to read more about it’s history. I remember as a kid having my hair permed in the basement when the ‘then’ owner had a beauty salon downstairs. Those were the days perms with done with the curlers on cord hanging from a big metal stand that plugged into the wall (or so, as is the memory of a young child!). Thank you for the great post!

  2. Thanks for this picturesque pinch of history about the home, but please more — names and dates, please.

  3. My grandmother would go there to get her hair done in the fifties. Her name was Helen Marsh. I toured that home this year on the historic homes tour.

  4. via eMail in 2022:

    Hello Mr. Blake,
    Just wanted to drop you a line that I googled my great grandfather Charles Wesley Gorham and came across the “Snohomish: Then and Now” photo of the Gorham house. What a find! My grandmother was Helen Gorham (Nicol). I grew up in Bellevue and now live in Vermont. I remember going to Snohomish as a kid to drive by the house and tend to my great grandparents graves, but I haven’t been back in years. Thanks so much for doing the work you’ve done.
    Amy Morel

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