By Betty Lou Gaeng/For Lynnwood Today
Before his early death in 1992, Australian song-writer and entertainer Peter Allen wrote some great lyrics. Fitting for this article are those words he wrote for the timeless song, Everything Old is New Again: “Don’t throw the past away—You might need it some rainy day—Dreams can come true again—When everything old is new again.”
These words seem to describe Lynnwood Crossroads, the new shopping center at what was once, decades ago, the Evergreen Crossroads. Some may lament that Jimbo’s, a favorite restaurant is gone, but no one can deny, the land itself is new once again.
A few years ago this same property, the southwest corner of the intersection of Highway 99 and 196th Street SW in Lynnwood, was cleared for construction. With the downturn in our economy, it became an ugly blight along the highway. The buildings gone, the land was left desolate for what seemed far too long a time. Now, we can finally echo the words of the song.
Lynnwood’s heritage is the history of the merging of many small communities, with the highway-business community of Lynnwood leading the way to incorporation in 1959. Through the years, one by one, the city annexed several surrounding communities. Some are still recalled; Alderwood Manor being the one most remembered. However, there was Hall’s Lake, a portion of Cedar Valley, Upper Meadowdale, and also a place called Emander. A mile to the south was Seattle Heights, a village which could boast of having in 1910, the first post office east of Edmonds; as well as the first fire department. The all-volunteer Seattle Heights fire department operated from Eisen’s Garage, located at what is now the northeast corner of 212th Street SW and Highway 99.
Yes, there are many place names from the past that are part of the history of Lynnwood, however, in this article we are remembering the birth of our city’s name—Lynnwood; and the men and the woman behind the name.
Having worked in the real estate business since he was a very young man in his hometown of Washington, Taylor County, Iowa, Karl Merz O’Beirn chose to continue that field as he traveled around the country. In Wyoming, where she was working as a stenographer in a real estate office, Karl O’Beirn met Lynn (Arnold) Garton, a young divorced woman who was the mother of a small son. They were soon married and together they traveled to such places as Tampa, Florida and Amarillo, Texas, on the lookout for that elusive opportunity in real estate.
By 1930, they had arrived in Seattle during the beginnings of the Great Depression years. For Karl O’Beirn, a tall, blue-eyed, 35-year-old investment broker and land developer, opportunities in his chosen field were no doubt a challenge.
He eventually established O’Beirn Real Estate in Seattle with his office in the Vance Building. In 1937 when Mr. O’Beirn, was out checking on property for sale, he took note of some wooded land about 15 miles to the north in Snohomish County. The property he was interested in was the undeveloped southwest corner of the Evergreen Crossroads where the highway intersected with the recently paved road running from neighboring Alderwood Manor to Edmonds, three miles to the west.
Mr. O’Beirn purchased this tract of land located between what we now know as 196th Street SW and 204th Street SW, State Highway 99—on the west side of the highway. He platted his land into 18 lots and the “For Sale” signs went up. Lynnwood was the name he chose for his real estate acquisition. The “Lynn” was for his wife and “wood” because Alderwood was directly east; and west was a small community on a hill known as Maplewood. Even though the land had been stripped of its forest decades before, much of it was once again covered with trees.
It wasn’t long before one of Mr. O’Beirn’s smaller lots was sold to Clarence Adonijah Fulton, another native of Iowa. Mr. Fulton had already established a lumber business at Richmond Highlands in King County. In 1938, he built his second lumber yard on this newly purchased property at what is today 19832 Highway 99. He named his business Lynnwood Lumber Co. and it became the first company to carry the name Lynnwood. Others would soon follow, and a few years later, the businessmen of Lynnwood’s Commercial Club voted to make Lynnwood the official name for the entire Crossroads area. However, the sign on the front of Lynnwood Lumber Co. established a beginning.
Today, the building no longer a lumber company, and the lumber storage portion long gone, the structure remains as a remembrance of a different era. It is the location that should be of interest. Directly south and adjacent to the new shopping center, Lynnwood Crossroads, the historic building is a reminder of the past, as it welcomes people to the new.
The Fultons and the O’Beirns are gone, but for those who remember the old Lynnwood at Evergreen Crossroads, it is nice to see that although everything seems to be new again, some of the old is still with us. We didn’t throw away the entire past to welcome the new.
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.