Looking Back at Lynnwood: Heritage, history and small-town newspapers

The two buildings that house the collections at Heritage Park.
The two buildings that house the collections at Heritage Park.

Have you ever noticed that Lynnwood is a city of parks? There are large parks, small parks, neighborhood parks and still others which honor our history. One park that does honor this history is Lynnwood’s Heritage Park on Poplar Way. A visit to Heritage Park presents an opportunity to look back at Lynnwood’s development from several small separate communities to its becoming one of Snohomish County’s major cities.

Opened in 2004, Heritage Park is one of the city’s prettiest parks. Once a well-kept secret, the signs on the freeway now beckon visitors from all over the United States — and even the world — to this park. Part of the reason is certainly the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau Visitors’ Center located at the park, but another reason is the park’s designation as a historic attraction.

Just as its name Heritage Park indicates, this small and beautifully situated park honors our heritage. Here you can visit the buildings that house Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s (AMHA) Heritage Resource Center and Sno-Isle Genealogical Society’s (SIGS) Genealogical Research Center. These two organizations offer a vast assortment of historical research material telling of Lynnwood’s evolution and the people and places from its past.

Memories of the places that once made up our community have mostly disappeared, only to be found in old records such as the historical newspapers. Very few people have knowledge of some of the names which once were familiar in our area—names such as Arp Way, Grandview, Forest Park, Seattle Heights, Hidden Lake, Mud Lake and many more. These places are part of Lynnwood’s history and are included in the stories that appear in old newspapers.

A volunteer at Sno-Isle Genealogical Society with a bound archival copy of one year of the Tribune.
A volunteer at Sno-Isle Genealogical Society with a bound archival copy of one year of the Tribune.

Much of this local history can be found in the early Edmonds newspapers. When the Edmonds Tribune-Review shut its presses down for the last time in the early 1980s, it left behind a record of decades of reporting the local news. Our history of South Snohomish County has been preserved by the journalists who wrote for the Tribune. They not only kept readers informed about the people and events in our neighboring city of Edmonds, but they also became the voices for the nearby communities, including Lynnwood in its formative years.

After the Washington State Archives microfilmed the Edmonds newspapers in 1994 for the Friends of the Edmonds Library Newspaper Microfilm Project — a project funded by the Friends of the Edmonds Library — the plan was to destroy the actual papers. However, Sno-Isle Genealogical Society acquired and preserved these old newspapers, and when the society became a resident at Humble House in Heritage Park in 2005, these papers — dating from 1907 — became a major holding at its Genealogical Research Center.

White gloves are necessary to look at aging newspapers, such as this 1930s issue of the Edmonds Tribune-Review.
White gloves are necessary to look at aging newspapers, such as this 1930s issue of the Edmonds Tribune-Review.

The newspapers are now fragile and yellow with age, requiring great care while browsing. For this, white cotton gloves are a must and are furnished at the research center. The door is open to visitors as well as SIGS members on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you are interested in the history of Lynnwood, a writer, or perhaps a student working on a paper about the events and history of this area, these old newspapers at the research center of Sno-Isle Genealogical Society hold a gold mine of information for you.

Another wonderful resource at Heritage Park is Alderwood Manor Heritage Association. The association’s Heritage Resource Center is great place to discover the history of Lynnwood. AMHA also has a collection of historic newspapers, and at the present time volunteers are working on a project involving these newspapers.

One part of their collection will include the Alderwood Manor Countryside newspaper from 1919 through 1923. This newspaper was published by Puget Mill Company, the founder of Alderwood Manor. For the information of those new to Lynnwood and not familiar with its origins, much of the land which today we know as the City of Lynnwood had its beginnings as the community of Alderwood Manor. The Countryside newspaper offers a very clear picture of the very earliest days of Alderwood. Too fragile to be handled by patrons, these newspapers have been digitized and will soon be available for viewing by the public on a computer at AMHA’s Heritage Resource Center.

In addition to the historical information that the Countryside newspaper will offer, there is yet another collection soon to be available. This is Lynnwood’s Enterprise. At the present time, AMHA has been able to digitize limited editions from the 1960s and almost all of 1970s. Digitizing of additional newspapers is in the future.

Referring to the newspaper digitizing project, Alderwood Manor Heritage Association’s Kevin Stadler stated, “What makes these a valuable tool for doing research is they are in PDF format and are fully searchable, unlike microfilm, which you have to look at page by page.” “The papers were scanned by Small Town Papers, made possible with a Community Heritage Grant from Snohomish County.”

These newspapers, digitized and fully indexed, will soon be available to visitors at the Alderwood Manor Heritage Society’s Heritage Resource Center. The hours at the heritage center are 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

In our ever-changing technical world, former methods of following the news have become history itself. Our small town papers are disappearing, being replaced by a different method of news reporting—networks providing instant news via the Internet. As we learn to adapt to these changes, we can thank organizations such as Sno-Isle Genealogical Society and Alderwood Manor Heritage Association for reminding us of the times that came before—and for not allowing the information about those earlier times slip away from us. Except for the work of preservation by volunteers in organizations such as these two, the knowledge of our history, our heritage, could be lost.

Without the City of Lynnwood’s foresight in giving us Heritage Park in remembrance of our beginnings, we would not have these opportunities to look back. Lynnwood’s parks and its recreation opportunities are feats our city government can take pride in providing.

– By Betty Lou Gaeng

Gaeng on the roof of the Lynnwood Convention Center.
Gaeng on the roof of the Lynnwood Convention Center.

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.


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