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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Edmonds, Washington

One of Washington State's most picturesque waterfront communities, Edmonds (population 39,580) offers breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains rising above Puget Sound. Visitors enjoy the seaside ambiance, and residents enjoy the appealing, small-town quality of life.

Edmonds Landing Park North Edmonds, the oldest city in Snohomish County, began in 1890 as a logging camp and red cedar shingle mill town, and has grown into a sophisticated city known for its festivals and shopping and business district, including art galleries, antique stores, and bookstores.

Long before pioneers staked their claims on Edmonds' shores, the Snohomish tribe fished and gathered clams and native oysters. Founding Father George Brackett grew up working in the woods of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, moving to the Puget Sound region in 1869 or 1870.

Seeing opportunity in the heavily wooded area around Edmonds, Brackett purchased 147 acres of waterfront timber in 1872 for $650. By 1876, he had built a home and began to build the town. Other settlers trickled into the area—loggers, shingle sawyers, weavers, farmers, and small businessmen. In 1884, Edmonds opened its first post office, and by 1890 was incorporated, with Brackett becoming the first mayor.

During the early 1900s, shingle mills stretched all along the Edmonds waterfront. The number of mills grew rapidly thanks to the availability of quality red cedar nearby. In its heyday, there were 10 mills along the waterfront, some cutting almost 20,000 shingles per year. Over time, as the big trees were cut down, mills closed and Edmonds' early character as a mill town faded. The last mill closed its doors in 1951.

Today, traces of the city's early days can be seen in many historic sites around the downtown or "bowl" area. Public art in waterfront parks and elsewhere references the early logging and sawmill history of the town. The Edmonds Historical Museum, housed in a 1910 Carnegie Library building, is a great place to pick up a walking tour map. The preservation of the 1928 movie theater, a popular venue, contributes to the quality of life.

Edmonds is known regionally as an active arts community. A key project has been the acquisition and rehabilitation of the former Edmonds High School, a State Historic Site, for use as a regional multipurpose performing arts center.

The building, a key visual element in downtown Edmonds, features a 1939 Public Works Administration-built auditorium and gymnasium and is one of the finest examples of Arte Moderne architecture in the State. Funding comes from city public facilities district tax revenues, the county, and the city, and through fundraising by private organizations.

By integrating cultural development and historic preservation strategies with economic development, the Edmonds Center for the Arts attracts people and new businesses to the city, and stimulates the local economy.

For more information

Edmonds-South Snohomish County Historical Society: www.historicedmonds.org


Updated August 19, 2009

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