Looking Back: Lynnwood — beginnings and Days of Progress, Part 2  

Louis Arp’s homestead in 1908.

You can read Part 1 of this series here.

Historically, Lynnwood had its beginnings in 1888 when the land ownership at what is now Lynnwood at the Crossroads consisted of privately held homesteads and some state land.  With the use of records from the Bureau of Land Management, along with plat maps, I was able to pinpoint the original land owners. These records show that the first person to actually establish a home at the birthplace of Lynnwood was Louis Peter Arp, a man originally from Denmark.

Then and now—Lynnwood and its four corners

Louis Peter Arp’s 160-acre homestead was located at what is today the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 99 and 196th Street Southwest (SR524). A portion of Mr. Arp’s homestead is now the location of James Village and Trinity Lutheran Church.

Directly south of Mr. Arp’s homestead was the west section of the 160-acre homestead of Peter Schreiber, another man from Denmark. On a portion of the Peter Schreiber homestead, located on the southwest corner of the intersection, is SRO’s Lynnwood Crossroads Shopping Center, a diverse and unique place with something for everyone, including the healthy food selections at Sprouts, or for exercise at a gym, L A Fitness is handy.

If you don’t find what you want at the Lynnwood Crossroads Shopping Center, go across the highway to the southeast corner of the intersection, another part of Peter Schreiber’s former homestead—there you will find more places to shop—from the always popular Trader Joes to Big Lots; or for those with the urge to sew, there is Joann’s Fabrics.

Ed’s Surplus on 196th Street Southwest.

Once recognized as state-owned school land, the northeast corner of the Lynnwood intersection is now home to more shops and businesses.  Lynnwood Junior High School was once located on this land. And, who can forget Ed’s Surplus & Marine, a landmark business on 196th Street Southwest since 1968. After 50 years at the same location, the iconic store closed in October of 2018.

Louis Peter Arp – A beginning for historic Lynnwood

Having filed his claim at the Seattle Land Office for a 160-acre homestead, Louis Peter Arp arrived in Edmonds in 1888. From there, in order to haul supplies to his isolated property he blazed a rough and narrow wagon trail to his homestead (later it became a puncheon road). His route was up the steep hillside of what is now Maplewood Hill, and then a short distance east to his homestead. In order to have the money to develop his land claim, Louis Arp occasionally worked at his longtime trade as a railroad bridge building foreman. During his free time and during the winter months, Louis Arp cleared his land, built his house, and planted an orchard of fruit trees.  As shown by the BLM records, the patent for his 160-acre homestead was issued on Jan. 11, 1892.

In Seattle in 1897, Louis Arp married Maude DePue, a pretty young lady from Edmonds, and the same year, he also became a citizen of the United States. A neighbor, Chris Wilsted, another orchardist, also from Denmark, signed as a witness for Louis Arp on his Petition for Naturalization.

Louis and Maude Arp had two daughters, Alpha and Neva. While still maintaining title to his homestead, in 1900, supposedly because of Mrs. Arp’s health, the family moved to their new home in Edmonds — one acre on Walnut Street between 6th and 7th Streets. Their two daughters attended school in Edmonds, both graduating from Edmonds High School — Alpha in 1917 and Neva in 1919.

For a short time, the area where Louis Arp’s homestead was located was called Grand View, a place known for its orchards of fruit trees—mainly apple and cherries. A 1909 article in the Edmonds Tribune explained the reason for the community’s name: “Grand View is situated about three miles from Edmonds on the Everett Road, half way on the county road between Everett and Seattle. From this place there is a view of the Olympics and the Cascades, also a glimpse of the Sound. Here we are on the divide, having a full wind sweep and all the sunlight that comes.  Our soil is mixed with shot clay and iron pyrites, which gives our apples and cherries the color and flavor which makes them so acceptable to sight and palate.” According to the Edmonds Tribune in 1908, Mr. Arp had 125 fruit-bearing trees on his homestead land — both apple and cherry.

Louis Arp also had an interest in the 160-acre homestead directly west of his own. As of November 1891, the adjoining homestead was claimed in the name of Louis Arp’s uncle, Christian T. Christensen, who never personally lived on the land. In the absence of Mr. Christensen, Louis Arp evidently had control of the property.

Sometime before 1910, Louis Arp sold the rights to his homestead. Land developers were beginning to show a lot of interest in the location of his property.

By 1910, Peter Schreiber’s nearby160-acre homestead was also acquired by land developers. Most of the Schreiber property had been sold at the courthouse in Everett because of delinquent taxes. Peter Schreiber’s bittersweet story, along with a photo of his Scriber Lake home, was published in a July 19, 2019 column: Looking Back: Peter Schreiber and Scriber Lake.

Louis Arp as mayor of Edmonds.

As a resident of Edmonds, Louis Arp became an active force in business and city affairs.  He was employed by Western Shingle Company as an engineer; he served on the board for Edmonds School District No. 15; was a member of the Edmonds City Council, and during 1914-1916, he was mayor of Edmonds. He became a director for the Bank of Edmonds and also served on the board for the Edmonds Independent Telephone Company. However, Louis Arp is best known for his role as a Snohomish County Commissioner of Roads for District 2. He retired as a road commissioner in 1934. Mr. Arp is remembered as the father of the road system for south Snohomish County. After a busy life, he died in 1939, at the age of 74.

For more information about Louis Peter Arp, see my column Looking Back: Edmonds Mayor Louis Arp and the roots of Lynnwood from May 10, 2016.

Early progress was slow

Except for the influx of the loggers employed by the lumber companies for the clearing of the dense forests, the intervening years appeared uneventful. However, on Aug. 7, 1909, the Edmonds Tribune under Grand View news reported that Lewis Cressey was running a full crew getting out piling for Brown’s Bay Lumber Co. The newspaper on the same date mentioned that “Mr. Kelly is hauling logs off Harry Reid’s timberlands, and Mr. Bancroft is getting out shingle bolts from the same tract. Also, in August of 1909, the Edmonds Tribune reported that one of Mr. Arp’s closest neighbors, Rev. Robertson M. Reid, sold his fine trotting horse in Seattle that week, and he had also completed shipping his cherries to Seattle.

With the clearing of the timberlands, some of the homesteads on the hillside east of Edmonds were platted into smaller parcels of land and sold. With this, family-owned farms began appearing on the cleared land.

Historic Lynnwood at the crossroads

In 1927, the opening of Pacific Highway (SR99) brought changes and new life to the area. As automobile travel became more popular, people were out and about, and gas stations, tourist cabins, cafés, road houses and taverns became prominent fixtures along the newly paved highway.

With the Edmonds-Alderwood Road intersecting the Pacific Highway, the landscape changed, and the use of the descriptive word “crossroads” became popular. Later, Pacific Highway was renamed U.S. 99, and after Interstate 5 opened in 1965, U.S. 99 became a state highway and renamed SR99. Now, it is more commonly referred to as Highway 99.

In 1931, Charles Cressey, a local young man, opened his garage and service station on the northeast corner of the intersection. He was credited as having the first business in Lynnwood. South of Charles Cressey’s Garage, Clyde Moore’s Midway Iron Works opened in January of 1933, and was acknowledged as the second business at the crossroads. Blacksmith Clyde Moore’s small one-man shop specialized in ornamental iron works.

Another early business was “Alby” Albright’s Café, located directly north of Cressey’s Garage. This family-style café opened in 1934 and remained in business at that location until its 1939 move one mile south to the Seattle Heights intersection of the highway and the county road known as the Hall Lake-Edmonds Road. Albright’s Bungalow Café was located just north of the grocery store of Adrian Middleton and the Seattle Heights U.S. Post Office on the northwest corner of the intersection. The post office was located inside the grocery store, in the northwest corner. Mr. Middleton had been the Seattle Heights postmaster since 1910, when the store and post office were first located a short distance east on the road to Hall Lake — near the crossing of the Seattle-Everett Interurban rail line. In our day, the Hall Lake-Edmonds Road is 212th Street Southwest.

In spite of the economic hardships during the Great Depression, progress continued at the crossroads, and in 1931, the area celebrated the newly paved road from Alderwood Manor to the highway intersection. On June 23,1934, a group from Alderwood Manor, Edmonds and the crossroads area — under the leadership of the Edmonds Kiwanis Club, Maplewood Community Club and the Alderwood Chamber of Commerce — gathered to celebrate two and a half miles of paved road from the Pacific Highway, west through the Maplewood community to connect with the paved road in north Edmonds.

The year 1937 ushered in another important event at the crossroads, when 35-year-old Karl O’Beirn, a Seattle land developer and investment broker, purchased acreage located south of the intersection and subdivided it into 18 business lots. Lynnwood was the name Mr. O’Beirn chose for his properties. “Lynn” was for his wife, and the “wood” part was chosen because Alderwood Manor was located to the east and Maplewood to the west. A sign posted on the O’Beirn property announced that the business lots were ready to be sold. Even though the country was still mired in a depression, before long, more businesses began appearing near the highway intersection—including. C. A. Fulton’s Lynnwood Lumber Company — the first crossroad’s business to feature the Lynnwood name.

Lynnwood’s Days of Progress leads the way to incorporation

To support the businesses at the crossroads, the Lynnwood Commercial Club was established in October of 1945, with newcomer Seley Alvin “Al” Wilcox as its first president.

As more businesses began using the name Lynnwood, one of the Commercial Club’s first actions was in January of 1946 when Lynnwood was approved as the name for the entire crossroads community. Following this action, “Welcome to Lynnwood” signs were posted along all four entrances to the highway intersection.

By the beginning of 1946, the long years of WWII were becoming a memory, and the returning veterans were taking advantage of the government’s program for continuing their education — either by finishing their interrupted schooling or enrolling for the first time in a college of their choice. Another federal program for returning veterans was established for either learning a trade or for starting their own business. They married, and financed by government assistance with low-term loans, they were buying homes and beginning family life.

By 1950, what later became known as the generation of the baby boomers arrived, resulting in a plethora of housing developments appearing throughout South Snohomish County. Locally, a rapid growth of nearby residential homes meant more business opportunities for the Lynnwood neighborhood.

The annual Days of Progress Festival started in 1951 as a joint project by the Lynnwood Commercial Club and Lynnwood’s Community Club to raise money for a park. It included events such as a street dance and a baby photograph contest. By the time Lynnwood incorporated in 1959, the Days of Progress festival had been replaced by the more up-to-date Lynn-O-Rama event, which continued for many years.

The Wilcox brothers

Al Wilcox, as president of the Commercial Club and a businessman himself, became an influential figure in the development of Lynnwood.  Although he didn’t live to see Lynnwood’s incorporation, his vision and influence in those early days, helped pave the way toward incorporation.

Born in 1897 in Sauk Center, Minnesota, Al Wilcox was a veteran of WWI. He was the younger brother of Eugene H. Wilcox (1887-1962), a longtime Alderwood Manor resident. Lynnwood’s Wilcox Park is named for the Eugene Wilcox family. In the photo, the two brothers are shown together, with Al Wilcox on the left.

When Al Wilcox arrived in South Snohomish County, he first established a sign-painting business at what he sometimes referred to as Evergreen Corners in Lynnwood. In addition, from 1949 until his sudden death at the age of 54, he was the owner, editor and publisher of The Reporter, Lynnwood’s first newspaper. For much of the Days of Progress portion of this column, I have used information found in The Reporter, a newspaper now archived at Lynnwood-Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s cottage at Heritage Park on Poplar Way in Lynnwood.

Al Wilcox was also active in Alderwood Manor Post 90, American Legion, serving for several years as commander of the post. In 1948, he became the force behind the establishment of a veteran’s memorial monument. This memorial was dedicated to veterans from School District No. 15 who had lost their lives in WWI and WWII. After several moves from its first location at the American Legion’s property on Highway 99, north of the crossroads in unincorporated Alderwood Manor, the 7-foot-tall granite memorial monument is now a permanent fixture at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery in the Westgate area of Edmonds. The veteran’s memorial has a prominent spot near the cemetery’s office and the grave of Seley Alvin “Al” Wilcox.

Next, in Part 3, Lynnwood matures and begins moving forward to incorporation, and in 1959 reaches its destination.

— By Betty Lou Gaeng

Betty Gaeng is a long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. She researches and writes about the history and the people of early-day Lynnwood and Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.



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