Thursday, November 10, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 12

The Old Stanwood Schoolhouse, ca 1901

Slightly deviating from other postcard Thursdays, this postcard isn’t an Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition 1909 card nor is it one featuring a place in Norway, Denmark or Sweden. The building shown is the "old" Stanwood schoolhouse located in Stanwood, Washington about 60 miles northwest of Seattle on Camano Island.

The first school in the Stillaquamish Valley was built in the town of Norman in 1882 and was a one or two room schoolhouse where many of the children had to walk miles through the woods on a trail to get to it. Rather progressive for its time the Norman school was open to both Indian and white children. The Norman school burned to the ground in the big fire of 1892 that had started in the Armstrong Hotel and Restaurant. The town did not have a fire department and the available hose was not long enough to reach the fire but it did help with the filling of water buckets for a brigade and allowed the line to fight the fire all night until the blaze was contained. Thirteen buildings in the town including the school were destroyed in the fire. In a humorous, to me, aside the members of the Good Templars Lodge clad in their full regalia rushed to help by rescuing the stock of liquor from the Armstrong saloon. Of course, I guess if the liquor had caught fire it would have added to the conflagration by feeding the fire with alcohol making it that much more difficult to control.

The old Standwood school was built in 1891 and this photo is from 1900 or 1901 when the school would have been about 10 years old. It was originally a grade school, 1st through 8th grades, but did house high school students, grades 9 through 12, until 1913 when a new brick high school was opened. I wondered if the older students used the separate building seen on the right and raised up off the ground accessed by stairs. I liked the architectural design of the main building including the contrast between the dark and white and especially the bell tower. They don’t make buildings like this any more. The building must have been heated by wood or coal burning stoves or fireplaces since there are several chimneys visible in the picture. This school was used until 1939 when it was demolished and a newer school was then in use.

Many Scandinavian immigrants settled in Stanwood beginning in 1864 and it was first known as Centerville. The name was officially changed to Stanwood in 1878. In an area rich with timber and Scandinavians it should come as no surprise that the major industry was logging and the accompanying saw mills. Other industries included the dairy—milk and butter—and fishing. The Stanwood Cooperative Creamery was established in 1895 and the butter produced in 1896 took first prize that year at the Pierce County Fair held in Tacoma. In 1897 the Stanwood Lumber Company was producing 20,000 feet of lumber daily. The Friday Fish Company was established in 1898 had 50 employees producing 4,000 to 5,000 cans of salmon daily. The Stanwood Weekly Press began publishing in 1897.

Two of our extended family members attended the old Stanwood school from about 1923 to the mid 1930s.

I talked with the people at the Stanwood Historical Society office and they suggested that persons interested in more information about the history of Stanwood should see “The Stanwood Story,” written for the Stanwood News by Alice Essex and published in 1971. The Stanwood Historical Society web page can be found at

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