Looking West from Maple Avenue

This is an encore edition of Snohomish Then and Now, first published in July 2007, and the inscribed date on the Gilbert Horton photograph remains a mystery.

The print is mounted on cream-colored cardboard with the hand-written notation at the bottom, “Downtown Snohomish, 1882” and “At the Foot of Maple Avenue”. On the reverse is a stamped impression of elaborate typography that reads, “Palace Floating Gallery, Horton & Lewis, Proprietors, Puget Sound, Instantaneous Portraits and Landscapes.”

“In the spring of 1884 I built a boat at Tacoma which I called the Palace Floating Gallery,” related Horton to the Snohomish County Tribune on November 8, 1928.

Horton first came west in 1877. After a short stay, he returned to Michigan, and then returned to the Pacific Coast with the goal of establishing a floating photo gallery.

So, he could have captured the image in 1882 but didn’t get around to mounting it until all set up in his Floating Gallery, including equipped with a fancy stamp. However, since we are not sure who wrote the inscription, nor when, circumstantial evidence leads us to believe that the date is mistaken and that Horton captured this historic image around 1885.

Since all of “downtown Snohomish” at the time was built of wood, none of the structures pictured are still standing. We need to remember that nearly everything, as well as, everybody, arrived by the river in early Snohomish and that the riverside buildings were primary warehouses, built quickly to handle the ever-increasing supplies required to support the rapid growth of the young city.

In those busy times, it would have been impossible to imagine a leisurely walk on a sun-dappled path alongside the river, beneath the tall, gently swaying Cottonwoods, and that only peek-a-boo views of downtown Snohomish and the river would be available from the foot of Maple Avenue.

Read more about Gilbert Horton.

. . .

Gilbert Horton, circa 1885 (Courtesy Snohomish Historical Society)
Snohomish River Trail at Maple Avenue, 2007

Historic Avenue B

Historic Avenue B, looking south, 1855-2009

SNOHOMISH’S OWN PIONEER PHOTOGRAPHER, GILBERT D. HORTON, captured this month’s historic image of Avenue B around 1885. By then, all three Blackman families had made their homes in this part of town, but only one has survived, and it is now the Blackman House Museum at 118 Avenue B.

Alanson “Cap” Blackman was the eldest brother to settle in Snohomish along with his wife, Eliza, also from Bradley, Maine. Their home was on the corner of Avenue B and 2nd, across the street from pioneer drugstore owner Lot Wilbur’s home. The Wilbur’s three story home was built on a south-facing hill that was removed in the 40s to build an automobile dealership level with the street. Most likely, Horton had his large format camera set up on the hill in order to capture the historic bird’s eye view, as opposed to my “ladder-high view” repeat photograph.

Next in line age wise, was Elhanan who built a home on the east side of Avenue B, on the left in the historic image, and lived there with his wife Frances and their daughter Edith. (We wrote about Edith last month since her grandson, Richard, had just donated her family album to the Society.)

Just across the wide, park-like avenue from Elhanan’s family was the youngest brother, Hyrcanus and his wife Ella living at 118 Avenue B. Their two children, Clifford and Eunice were born and raised in this home that is now our museum. Plus, Eunice and her husband Dr. William Ford lived in the home until his death in 1951, but Eunice stayed put for another 10 years or so until accepting her daughter’s invitation to live with her family in Sacramento, California, where she died in 1974.

Hyrcanus was the financial officer of the Blackman Brothers Company and civic activist. By the time this photograph was taken, the Brothers had a logging operation on a small lake north of town, and a very busy mill on the Snohomish River turning out red cedar shakes by the (coming) trainload for shipment to the East Coast.

The structure in the historic image at the end of the block could be the location of Blackman roller skating rink that’s mentioned in the early newspapers. In any case, the structure was deconstructed to make room for the four-star Penobscot Hotel, which opened on this site in 1888. Sadly, it burned to the ground in the great fire of 1911 when the current two-story brick building was built inside of a year.

Then there is the story of the heated contest between Hyrcanus and city founder “Old Ferg” to be elected the first Mayor when the citizen’s voted for the city’s incorporation in 1890. You are invited to hear that story and more as part of my second annual Blackman Stories for the Holidays offered weekend afternoons from 1 to 4pm, but only through December at the Blackman House Museum on historic Avenue B.

Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, December 16, 2009


Avenue B, circa 1885
A Gilbert Horton photograph of Avenue B around 1885 captured from a hill that was removed to build the Poier Chevrolet Dealership on Second Street. All three Blackman Brothers had homes on this street at the time, but only one home has survived to become the Blackman House Museum, the second structure up from First Street on the right.

Avenue B looking south towards the river, 2009
Avenue B looking towards First Street and the river. Today’s view of the Blackman House Museum at #118, located on the right, is hidden by trees. The white structure at the end of Avenue B is the public restroom and the Sea-Sno Mill beyond.

Riverfront at Cady Landing: 1885, 1892 and 2009

Riverfront at Cady Landing

THE FIRST LAWYER IN TOWN, Eldridge Morse, and the first doctor, Albert Folsom, initiated the organization of the Atheneum Society, and produced a hand-written newsletter, The Shillalah, Devoted to Art, Science, Literature and General News. This effort led to their publication of our first newspaper, The Northern Star in 1876, but businesses didn’t have to wait until then to place an ad.

Shillalah cover, 1874
Shillalah cover, 1874

Thanks once again to Ann Tuohy for transcribing an ad for the Riverside Hotel (the three-story white building in the center), from a hand-written business directory issue of the Shillalah (circa 1874), which I am including in its entirety with only the spelling updated, but wtih the tongue-in-cheek firmly in place.

Riverside Hotel. By Frank Mathews, lately proprietor of the Iceburg House, North Pole. This house has been fitted up in princely style with all the modern and ancient improvements. Guests have the privilege of being eaten by the landlord or of eating themselves. A large number new 0 nails have just been purchased from John Hilton, and sincerely driven in all the rooms, so that any number of patrons can be accommodated with a place to sleep on short notice. Those preferring light airy rooms can be accommodated on the new side walk, on the west side of the hotel, lately erected by the celebrated architect and builder, Mr. Ward, of Jersey City, Forks of the Snoqualmie. There is a fine bar attached to the house, and the best evidence of the superior quality of the liquors furnished to customers may be found in the fact that the former proprietor and the present landlord are both still living, and are liable to linger along quite awhile longer. A spacious hall may be found in the 3rd story where the light-fantastic toe and ponderous heel often smite the floor at the same time. A beautiful zoological garden and pleasure ground are adjacent to the building and free to all the guests, here is the finest collection of old hens, chickens, roosters, mice, rats, hogs, pigs, puppies, dogs & bears ever before kept in any hotel in Washington Territory.

By 1892 Snohomish boasted of its first four-star hotel, the Penobscot, at First Street and Avenue B, so we are not sure how this building was being used when Anders Beer Wilse captured this informative image. Ads in the newspapers of the 1890s list Ferguson’s Blue Eagle Tavern, west of the hotel building, as “Ferguson’s old store,” and it seems that other merchants were using it for selling overstock.
Albert Folsom passed away in 1885 and so missed the expansion of Snohomish’s riverfront with the coming of the steamships. Morse retired to a farm outside of Snohomish to grow vegetables that he sold in town until his death in 1914.

Eastside Riverfront circa 1885. A prized image captured by Gilbert Horton, Snohomish’s own pioneer photographer. Far left is the Ferguson Cottage, built in 1859 and still standing; next in line is Ferguson’s famous Blue Eagle Tavern; then the two story Riverside Hotel and behind it is the Sinclair store and first home.
[Photo courtesy Snohomish County History Museum]
200903_1892 Another pictorial gem showing the eastern end of early Snohomish’s riverfront captured by the Norwegian photographer Anders Beer Wilse. Barely included on the left is the Ferguson Cottage next to two unidentified buildings, then the two story Blue Eagle Tavern with a new addition, and the Riverside Hotel building is still standing. The age of the steam ship is in full bloom showing two ships double parked at the Jackson Wharf, only the stern-wheeler Florence Henry is identified. And that’s Maple Street meeting the river on the right.
[Photo courtesy Museum of History and Industry, Wise No.11007]
Cady Landing, 2009. The eastern end of Snohomish’s downtown riverfront as it appears today. The Ferguson Cottage stands out on the left, sporting a recent coat of white paint, and Cady Landing at the end of Maple Street is on the right.