Harmon’s in the Marks Building, 1921-1964

then and now image

The 1916 image of the Snohomish River covered in snow, published last month, was taken from the roof of the Marks Building, which I understood was Harmon’s Department Store at the time — a Snohomish institution that I wanted to know more about.

Coming across an ad in a 1923 issue of the Snohomish County Tribune, I learned that Raymond Harmon did not move his operation to the Marks Building until 1921. The family history of the store, as reported in a 1973 issue of the Tribune, places the move in 1914 or 15 — a continuation of a family fabrication of convenience.

Raymond Harmon
L. Raymond Harmon, c. 1920s,
Raymond Harmon and his wife arrived in Snohomish in 1913 from Wisconsin with the plan of continuing his trade as a mercantile merchant. He took a storefront space in the recently completed Eagles Hall (801-807 First) “where he sold out his stock by 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the first day of business,” so goes the family lore.

He called the store “Harmon’s Specialty Shop,” and the ads offered corsets at “… new lower prices,” along with “Perfect Fitting Union Suits — Ask for Munsingwear, never say underwear.” The name seems to have been shortened to “Harmon’s” shortly after the move to the Marks Building and Raymond’s sister, Jessie Hauff, joined the business as a partner. The store layout famously featured a ramp that divided women’s apparel on one side and clothing for gents on the other. I am wondering if any readers remember the wooden rocking horse that children could ride down the ramp? Sounds dangerous.

Raymond died in 1945, a short six months after his son-in-law Harold Harkins began working at the store. Walt Canfield, who worked at Harmon’s for 38 years, helped Harold learn the business, along with Raymond’s widow Grace.

Harold’s success can be measured by the move in 1964 to a larger facility in the old Safeway Store at 611 Second Street, current home of the Senior Center’s Thrift Shop. The business remained at this location until it closed the doors for the last time in October 1989 — the same month that Raymond moved his operation to the Marks Building 68 years earlier.

So what business was in the Marks Building in 1916? An ad in the very issue of the Snohomish County Tribune that reported the record snowfall was placed by the Herron-Sitton Company with copy that read: “Alligator Coats and Pants Will Keep You Dry.”


Follow this link to read more about the images of the Marks Building and the 1916 snowstorm.

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Published in the Snohomish County Tribune, February 20, 2013