Eagles Hall c.1910

Let’s celebrate Historic Preservation Month locally with three cheers, one for each stunning storefront retail space in the renovated Eagles Building which returns this block of First Street once again to an inviting streetscape of community reflection and commerce.

snohomish then and now imageFor a long time the building’s storefront windows were covered or severally reduced, unconsciously creating an unfriendly streetscape. Just as is the ongoing case with American Legion Post located in the historic Wilbur Drug Store Building, 1201 First, which I wrote about in December 2012.

The Design Standards for the city of Snohomish reads: “Display windows in commercial buildings … shall be the predominant surface of the first story, typical of original Snohomish commercial buildings.” (Section 1, B, 5. Windows)

Why is this important?

Glass windows reflect the community back upon itself, as we stop to window shop or simply grab a glance of ourselves and others passing by. They reflect the changes in the sky, the passing of day into night, and are like tiny altars to the seasons. Storefront window displays manifest our economic faith in our town.

snohomish then and now image
Looking closely at this month’s historic image and noting, in particular, the richness of the frontier window displays – I am in awe of our human endeavors captured so precisely on a glass plate by the photographer Lee Picket, who lived in Index.

Stories inspired by these historic storefront windows display still present reflections of ourselves over a hundred years later.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, May 15, 2013

Eagles Hall, 1915/2013

The Fraternal Order of the Eagles building was at the time, 1904, Snohomish’s largest building. It was dedicated two years later with a grand ball for 1,000 members and guests. The second floor features a ballroom with a floating or suspended dance floor, boasted as the first in the Northwest.

At street level the robust structure features large plate glass windows, creating inviting storefronts that were quickly leased, we imagine. But now, seen for the first time, we have a photographic record of Harmon’s first store in the Eagles Hall, which we mentioned in last month’s post.

The Snohomish Historical Society is fortunate to have a small collection of glass plate negatives produced by the prolific photographer Lee Pickett, who after years of travel, made the town of Index his home base. His former home is a cozy, jam-packed museum today, well worth a Sunday drive east.

Two of the three glass plates of the Eagles Hall were broken, yet both show Harmon’s Specialty Shop with clear detail. I have not had much luck scanning the plates, but the history happy elves of the Northwest Room, David, and Lisa, (also known as Everett Public Library staff members), came to my aid. I am grateful — it’s very exciting to have these images to share.

A third plate shows the Eagles Hall at an earlier date when a dry goods store occupied Harmon’s space — did Harmon buy the partners out?

We will show that image next month as we continue to celebrate the renovation of the Eagles Hall after its long hibernation of emptiness, and welcome its new businesses located in one of Snohomish’s still largest buildings.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, March 20, 2013