Edmonds' preserved history

Take a peek inside the annual calendar, and what's in store for 2020


September 5, 2019

Edmonds HIstorical Museum

Before there was a fountain – long before – Fifth and Main in Edmonds looked like this.

After another successful year producing and distributing the Edmonds Historic Calendar, the Historic Preservation Commission is now working on the 2020 version.

After recently focusing on the 1950s and, this year, transportation, the commission has announced that the 1960s will be the theme for next year. It will highlight '60s properties – which are now over 50 years old and eligible for the Edmonds Register of Historic Places – as wells as architectural details, mid-century properties around town, and the construction history of I-5, commissioner Emily Scott said.

The calendar should be ready by late November, and will be released soon after at Edmonds City Hall, Edmonds Historical Museum, visitors center, and other locations in town.

Scott is a professional archeologist, and has been on the commission and worked on the calendar for more than three years now. Her family is from the area, and she's lived in Edmonds for 10 years. (You might know her as the elf on the holiday trolley.)

Scott's passion for the calendar and digging up local history is evident when speaking with her.

"I just love how excited people get about it. People ask for the calendar months before the release," she said. "It's so nice to share that historic community with people."

The calendar's purpose is to get the Historic Preservation Commission's name out there and show people that Edmonds has more than just buildings.

In addition, the calendar highlights potential and current properties for the register, properties that have been lost and remind people that they represent living history, Scott said.

Established in 2002, the commission's primary focus is finding property owners willing to put their property on the historic register to promote the appreciation of local history.

The Edmonds City Council sets up funding each year for the calendar in order to make them free to the public, as the commission doesn't have a budget, commissioner Tim Raetzloff said. One year, the commission charged a small fee for the calendars, and they still sold out, he added.

"I frankly think the calendar is good for business. People in town like the way it looks."

Raetzloff is an Edmonds historian and has been on the commission for seven years. He also writes History Files, an occasional column in the Beacon.

"Edmonds was a hardscrabble, working person's town. You wouldn't know it now, but that's the history of it," Raetzloff said. "We don't have a big downtown area, and our 100-year-old buildings are unique – they give us a connection back to our roots."

Scott produces most of the work on the calendar, Raetzloff said.

"Emily is very creative, and suggests what the theme of the calendar should be each year, and the rest of us agree," he said. "She does a really good job."

A high percentage of the photos from the calendar come from the Edmonds Historical Museum, but some come from other outlets, he said.

"Many people who get (the calendar) think that it's produced by the museum, not us."

Raetzloff was responsible for the railroad section of the 2019 transportation calendar, securing photos from the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive, based in Burien, and others from a local collector of railroadiana, who contributed several newspaper photos to the calendar.

"The interesting thing is that we regularly learn things in the process – things I'm ignorant of," Raetzloff added. "Occasionally we get criticism about that, but it's a learning process, and that's the cool thing about the calendar."

The calendar has received mixed reviews over the years, and the question of its continuing has been brought up in the past.

"There have been debates about whether we should stop doing it with the amount it takes and whether it's justified," he said. "It's the only publicity outlet that the commission has."

Raetzloff believes it's worthwhile to continue calendar as a way to keep the attention on historic preservation.

"There are a lot of people who don't like our cute historic downtown and want to develop new buildings," he said. "It's happening in Seattle, and people in Edmonds feel the same way. I guess it's a constant battle. The calendar encourages people and shows that this is the way it used to look."

The 2019 calendars are almost gone, but you can still pick one up at the Edmonds Historical Museum, or by contacting Scott at emily.gantz@gmail.com.


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