By Betty Lou Gaeng/For Lynnwood Today
Relegated to the status of an eyesore, an old building sits empty near the busy intersection at 196th Street and 36th Avenue West in Lynnwood.
Visible in the background of a recent photo, the Lynnwood Convention Center provides a sharp contrast between the old and new. Many who pass by may shake their heads and wonder why this seemingly useless building wasn’t torn down years ago. Probably it is mostly ignored—after all, it is just an old building. However, there are some who will remember when this particular structure was the hub of the community of Alderwood Manor. Most will recall that it was once the local hardware store — Lew Silver’s Manor Hardware.
A lot of memories are stored behind the brick façade, and to remember it only as the community’s hardware store does not do it justice. This tumble-down building was once an integral part of the very beginning — when this area we now know as a part of the city of Lynnwood first emerged as Puget Mill Company’s planned community of Alderwood Manor.
In 1917 when the first ads appeared announcing acreage and small farms to be sold by Puget Mill Company for its planned community, new families began arriving. This growth meant more children. Previously, most of the local residents had consisted of a scattering of pioneer homesteaders and others who worked in the logging industry or farmed. There were a few very small and over-crowded one-room schools scattered throughout Edmonds School District 15.
Nearby on North Trunk West (near what is today Lynnwood’s Fred Meyer store on 196th Street) the one-room Maple Leaf School which had opened in 1904 was in need of repairs and far too small for the ever increasing enrollment. In 1918 the district’s school board left the matter of a new school to the voters. In June of that year, the voters approved closing Maple Leaf School in favor of a new and larger school.
When the newly built school, as shown, opened in 1918 it faced east towards what was then North Trunk North and it had a much different look. Instead of brick, the outside was covered with milled-planks — painted white The land was leased from Puget Mill Company and the lumber for its construction was supplied by them. Any remains of the original interior are now encased behind the brick façade of the deserted building you see today. Only the original roof from the school building still remains visible.
The days for the little white school building were short-lived. In 1921 it was closed as a new and much larger school opened in January of that year. This new brick school building on the hill became a centerpiece in Puget Mill Company’s plan to sell their logged stump land as small family farms.
In the accompanying photo looking south, the old school can be seen in the foreground and upper right is its replacement, the W. A. Irwin/Alderwood Manor Grade School. North Trunk West (today’s 196th Street) ran east to west in between the new school on the knoll and the small buildings.
With the closing of the little school, Puget Mill Company now had other plans for the white wood-framed building. They moved the school building to a new foundation a short distance to the north, and as shown in the architectural drawing, completely changed its appearance. The drawing of the new Alderwood Manor Shopping Center appeared in Puget Mill Company’s publication the Countryside in 1922.
The major tenants in the building, the sales office of Puget Mill Company and the post office, signaled progress for the little community. Electric lights were another sign of this progress, and C. A. Taylor, the proprietor of the electric shop in the new center had just wired over 300 homes for electrification by the Northwest Traction Company (the interurban line).
Tenants of the shopping center changed over the years, with only Puget Mill Company and the post office remaining as permanent tenants.
With the 1927 opening of Pacific Highway (Highway 99) a mile to the west, changes were on the way. Businesses were appearing along the highway, and in 1938 the area took the name of Lynnwood; making it official a few years later.
In 1939, with the closing of the interurban, Alderwood Manor lost a major connection to the world. Meanwhile, that upstart Lynnwood at the Crossroads saw its business world growing and soon outpacing Alderwood Manor. Businesses that had been associated with Alderwood Manor were moving and re-opening at the Crossroads. Times were changing.
Puget Mill Division of Pope & Talbot, Inc. sold the building to Lew Silvers in order to relocate its office. On a snowy day in January of 1947, the Silvers family opened Manor Hardware. The former office of Puget Mill Company was made into an apartment where the family lived for seven years. The post office remained until a larger building was built because of the growing population. Eventually the entire building became the hardware store.
The old-fashioned neighborhood hardware store remained as a popular fixture of the community even after Lew Silvers retired and sold the building to a Seattle couple in 1973. It was leased to Bob Duncan, who continued to operate the business under the Manor Hardware name until it closed in October of 1997 to reopen in a different location in Lynnwood.
Since that time, the building has remained empty as it slowly deteriorates. To bring it into compliance with present city ordinances would be extremely costly for the private owner— perhaps not even possible. Thus, the future of this historic building is left to fate.
Memories of Alderwood Manor, Lynnwood and the surrounding communities as it was once are kept alive at Lynnwood’s Heritage Park. This is where volunteers at the Heritage Resource Center, the home of Alderwood Manor Heritage Association (AMHA), work to gather and preserve the documents, photos, records, writings and newspapers that tell the story of our past. Without places like Heritage Park and organizations such as AMHA, the history of our roots would fade with time. The full story of this particular historic building would not be known without the resources archived at Alderwood Manor Heritage Association.
An 80-year resident of Lynnwood, Betty Lou Gaeng is a genealogist, historian, researcher and writer who is active in volunteer work for Lynnwood’s Heritage Park Partners Advisory Committee and the Alderwood Manor Heritage Association at Heritage Park. She is also a member of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations (LOSCHO) and the South County Historical Society and Museum. Gaeng is the author of two books: “Etched in Stone,” which is the history of the Edmonds Museum memorial monument, and “Chirouse” about a Catholic missionary priest who came from France to Washington Territory in 1847 and became a father figure and friend to the Puget Sound area’s Native people.