Snohomish Historical Society Tour of Homes 2017

The Annual Snohomish Historical Society Home Tour will be held Sunday, September 17th from noon to 5pm. General admission tickets cost $15.00.  Adults over 62 and children under 12 receive a discounted rate of $12.00.

Tickets are now available for purchase at Annie’s on First, McDaniel’s Do-it Center and Joyworks. Tickets on the day of the tour will be available at the Waltz Building at 116 avenue B. For further infomation please call 360-568-5235 or e-mail

Thirty-Four Years of Memories

Eleanor Leight at the Blackman House Museum
Eleanor Leight with the second Chinese Dragon puppet head

The first puppet head wore out. So Bill Jack built another one, now on exhibit at the Blackman House Museum’s Gallery — along with costumes, props and photos galore!

Besides, the first one was to big. Eleanor tells the hysterical story of her oldest son, Steven, who was wearing the puppet head in one of the early shows and couldn’t get through a door. The dragon puppet glows wen lit with only black-light and is an audience favorite.

Eleanor led the Leight Fantastics dance troupe along with a variety of talent through 34 years of shows that came to end this past Mother’s Day weekend.

It all began when the first president of the Society, Everett Olsen asked Eleanor if she might put a show together as a fundraiser for the new historical society — never thinking it would turn into an annual event.

(Scroll down for a documentary excerpt of Everett.)

But Eleanor, who celebrated her nineth birthday this year, will continue on with rehearsals for smaller shows at the Evergreen Fair and other venues. So, it’s still not too late to learn tap.

You can join Eleanor and the gang on Monday evening’s at St Michael’s Hall, and on Thursdays at the Snohomish Center Center; which is a good place to contact Eleanor for more information. “No one is turned away,” she emphasized.

The Blackman House is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons from noon until 3 o’clock, and by appointment — call 425.315.2256 to make arrangements.

You may read more about Eleanor on the web at The Women’s Legacy Project.

Blackman House Museum Goes Hollywood

Blackman House Museum
For the past week the interior of our house museum has been cast in the role of a brothel.

The independent feature, “You Can’t Win” is based on the book of the same name published in 1926. Black’s autobiographical novel tracks his life on the road freight-hopping across the western United States and Canada, and his experiences with the Yegg Brotherhood of hobos, bums, tramps and criminals who rode the rails in turn-of-the-century America. In the movie treatment, Jack finds redemption from his wild ways in the love of a prostitue — hence a brothel.

Mayor Karen Guzak (L), Michael Pitt and unidentified cast memberStaring in and producing is Michael Pitt, recently appearing in “Boardwalk” an HBO production. He is pictured here with Mayor Karen Guzak (and a Society super supporter), with an unidentified cast member.

Mayor Karen joining the cast and crew for "lunch" in the Waltz Building Mayor Karen was invited to join the cast and crew for their “lunch” break. The Waltz Building played the role of lunch room for the cast and crew of close to 100 people.

Shooting in Snohomish ended on May 14th.

The Last Mother’s Day Show

The first show in the new Snohomish High Performing Arts Center for Eleanor and her troupe of tap dancers, comedians, even one opera singer, will be her last.

Follow this link to the story in the Daily Herald.

And follow this link to the learn more about the documentary.

The Snohomish Historical Society’s 34th annual variety show, “Memories,” is scheduled for 7 p.m., May 10, 11 and 12, with an additional 2 p.m. presentation set for May 12 and 13, at the Snohomish High School Performing Arts Center, 1316 Fifth St.

Tickets cost $7.25 for seniors and students, and $9.75 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

Tickets also can be purchased at the door.

2011 Snohomish Parlour Tour

The annual Snohomish Historical Society Parlour Tour will be held Sunday, December 11th from noon to 4pm. General admission tickets cost $15.00.  Adults over 62 and children under 12 receive a discounted rate of $12.00.

Tickets are now available for purchase at Kusler’s Pharmacy and Gifts, Annie’s on First, McDaniel’s Do-it Center, Speckeled Hen and Joyworks. Tickets on the day of the tour will be available at the Waltz Building at 116 avenue B. For further infomation please call 360-568-5235 or e-mail

Walter P. Bell, (1856-1934)

Ed Anderson, left, with David Dilgard

As Ed tells the story, it was a rainy evening, when he received five dirty dusty cardboard boxes, from his mother. She had been storing them in the crawl space of the family home — an inheritance from her Mother’s sister — the family pack-rat.

That was nearly ten years ago. It has taken Ed this long to sort through all 5 boxes with the discipline of his training as a civil engineer, currently employed with Boeing.

Walter P. Bell
Walter P. Bell, c.1888
His great-grandfather, Walter P. Bell was born in Iowa in 1856. He came to Washington 23 years later, working as a cowboy by day and reading law in the evening.

He began practicing law in Port Townsend, was engaged in the mail service on the steamships, and finally opening a law office on the second floor of Wilbur’s Drug Store on First Street, downtown Snohomish. Attorney Bell was instrumental in forming the articles of city’s first incorporation in 1888, and was elected to serve as the city’s first attorney.

It was around this time that Walter met and eventually married Lillian Blackman who had followed her father Almon to Snohomish from Maine. They were cousins to the well known Blackman Brothers who settle here in 1872.

The couple gave birth to four children, Harold, Mary, Doris and Winifred. Mary was Ed’s grandmother and Doris is the heroine of this story for saving everything — papers, letters, photographs, even diaries kept by her great grandmother back in Maine who never made the journey west, yet recorded the ups and downs of the clan so far away.

Doris, Walter Bell
Doris with her father Walter, 1923
Walter P. Bell moved his office to Everett after Snohomish lost the county seat in 1897. He was elected attorney general of Washington in 1908, serving for three years, when he was appointed judge of the superior court.

Included in this generous and significant donation is a statement from the Claim Department of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, dated July 9, 1934, notifying Mrs. Lillian Bell of a $2,000 payment upon the death of her husband, (in the same year).

All materials donated to the Historical Society are processed under the supervision of Kathleen Lince, the Society’s paid archivist. Your membership makes this vital community service available — please consider joining today.

General Membership Meeting

Wednesday, March 16th | 7p  | Waltz Building

This meeting is for You!  Please join fellow Snohomish Historical Society members for a presentation on the historic Carnegie Library project.  Come hear about the current plans and future use of Snohomish’s own gem presented by Melody Clemons, president of the Snohomish Carnegie Education Center.  You won’t want to miss this one!

Refreshments will be served.

The Gift of Edith Blackman’s Album

Alberta, Richard and the Edith Blackman Album

Dear Once and Future Members:

ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, Alberta and Richard (pictured above) visited the Blackman House Museum carrying a large box. Inside was a well-used Victorian album, covered in faded rose velvet, with thick pages trimmed in gold. “It was my grandmother’s album,” explained Richard Guttormsen. She was Edith Blackman, daughter of Elhanan and Francis, born in 1872, the same year that the Blackman brothers left Maine for the Pacific Northwest.

The E. Blackman Album is now under the care of Kathleen Lince, the Society’s first paid archivist who has been creating accession records of our papers and memorabilia since the spring of 2008 with a generous grant from the Stack Family Foundation.

The album will be on display at our Annual Meeting on Monday evening, November 16, at the Waltz Building, 116 Avenue B. A business meeting begins at 7pm with the election of Directors and Officers and other business, which will adjourn to enjoy the Director’s (Home Made) Desert Buffet at 8pm, along with a champagne toast to the 150th Anniversary of the City’s founding.

The Founders Award for Historic Preservation, 2009 will be presented to Zouhair Mardini and Mosaic Architecture for their outstanding collaboration on the 901 First Street Building project. Joshua Scott and members of the Mosaic team will give a show and tell presentation of the two-year long project.

And my two-year term as President ends with 2009, so this letter is the last opportunity I will have to gently remind you how important your financial support is to the survival of the Society’s mission. The dues have not been raised for 2010; instead, I am asking you to consider raising your level of commitment to the Society by renewing at the Sustaining Member, or even the Archivist level of membership of $150, for which I will gratefully sign and deliver a copy of my book “Early Snohomish.”

I couldn’t help wonder while turning the thick pages of the recently acquired Blackman Album — what would have happened to this priceless treasure of local history if our Society and its archives did not exist?

And the same question can be asked of our entire collection that began 40 years ago – from one of the smallest artifacts: Mrs. E. C. Ferguson’s calling card that she left while visiting the Blackmans – to the largest: the historic home itself!

Your continuing commitment is our main source of revenue; without it, the Society will fade away, and future donors will have only the likes of eBay … or the dumpster!

Please join us for the Annual Meeting on November 16th at 7p.

Warner Blake
(You may download a Membership Form HERE.)

Remembering Bill Blake

Bill Blake Our dear friend, and Life Member, Bill Blake was sent off in proper style on his new adventure with a packed memorial service on Thursday, July 16, 2009, at Snohomish’s Presbyterian Church.

Bill was born in the family home on Avenue H in 1921, and where he was living with his daughter Bonnie when he died in the hospital on July 8th. He had been in and out of the hospital for the past couple of years, so it was always a treat when I would run into him shopping at Top Foods. He would apologize that he wasn’t quite ready yet to take the tour of First Street that he promised for an oral history project that I was hoping to do with him. That’s how I met Bill, as the to-go-guy with a question of what business preceded the current one in such and such building on First.

Once, I found Bill in the flower section at the store and asked him what he was up to. It was Memorial Day weekend and he was picking out flowers for his wife’s grave, “I don’t want Georgia upset with me,” he said. No chance of the now.

You may read more about Bill’s life HERE.


Bill would have enjoyed the exhibition now on view in our Waltz Building, titled, “Treasurers from the Attic.” Charter member, Middy Ruthruff led a committee responsible for selecting, installing and now attending the extensive exhibition of a wide variety of objects and memorabilia. And it’s FREE! Open from 11 to 3p. everyday until July 25th.

Read the article in the Herald HERE.


Finally, a heads-up that my monthly column in the Tribune, “Snohomish: Then and Now” is also available on it’s own website: Snohomish Then And Now — and it has just been updated with a story about Bickford Motors, a generous supporter of the Society.