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Lowell Remembered by Hazel Clark

HistoryLink.org Essay 10227 : Printer-Friendly Format

This People's History of Lowell was written by Hazel Frederici Clark (1906-2000) and originally published as Lowell Remembered in 1977 by the Lowell Civic Association. Once a platted town, Lowell is now one of Everett's neighborhoods. The introductory material about Clark was provided by HistoryLink.org staff historian Margaret Riddle.

Hazel Clark

Hazel Clark died on February 14, 2000, at the age of 93. She had lived a quiet but amazing life that included the roles of professional librarian, wife and mother, writer and historian, amateur musician and artist, devoted church leader, community activist, and dedicated volunteer. Hazel was born in 1906, in Belltown, a district that is now part of downtown Seattle. "In those days,” Hazel wrote, “Seattle didn’t exist much above Pike or Pine." The family next moved to Sunnyside (now part of Capitol Hill) and was close to the University of Washington campus when it hosted Seattle’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. Hazel’s father took photos of the family at that event.

The family numbered three, Mom, Dad, and Hazel. They enjoyed reading books together and hiking Western Washington trails, two loves that Hazel continued throughout her life. Hazel’s parents encouraged her studious nature. Upon graduating from old Broadway High School in Seattle, Hazel entered the University of Washington, planning first to become a teacher. She received her degree in education but decided to continue her studies, earning a Library Sciences degree. Then, in 1928, Hazel came to work for the Everett Public Library, the Carnegie building on Oakes Avenue.   

Library patrons remember Hazel in those early years as stern and intimidating, her tallness and large build adding to the persona. She spoke her mind. When Everett decided to build a new library during the Great Depression, prominent architect Carl Gould was chosen to draw the plans. Hazel recalled how librarians and staff workers were asked to estimate how much book space they would need to grow. They did, but Gould did not take their advice. According to Hazel, Gould’s built-in shelving was full shortly after the new library opened.  

Officially, Hazel worked at the Everett library from 1928 to 1975, taking only a few years off to raise her daughter, Roxanne, who was born in the 1940s. The Clarks were Lowell residents, and Hazel became an active member of the Lowell Community Church. This was the church that Lowell founders E. D. and Margaret Getchell Smith had built, and Hazel recalled many of Lowell’s senior residents. Those she did not know from personal experience, she recalled in stories she learned from elders and passed on orally to younger ears. By the 1970s, Lowell residents considered Hazel their official historian. Hazel began writing Lowell history, and in 1977 the Lowell Civic Association published her short history, called Lowell Remembered. Hazel later wrote and published Reminiscences of Sunnydale and An Informal History of the Everett Public Library. 

Hazel Clark officially retired from library work in 1975, but she did not really leave. Upon the suggestion of another librarian, she started indexing the Everett Herald in September 1971. This, she felt, was important work. So she volunteered one day a week at the library, continuing her index project until The Herald began computer indexing in 1992.

To those who were privileged to work with her at the Everett Public Library, Hazel Clark was a faithful and constant presence, the most esteemed senior member of the library family, the one who was always there. Her health began to fail in 1998 and she decided to leave as a volunteer in the spring of 1999. Library staff said goodbye with a party that united present personnel with many retirees who came to wish her well.

In March of 2000, state Senator Jeralita Costa honored Hazel with a senate resolution, read in Olympia. In addition to her library work, Hazel was honored for authoring books on local history, as well as for her volunteer hours with the Snohomish County Museum, the UW Alumni Association, Bethany Home, and the Public Employees Retirement Association. The resolution stated,

“Hazel Clark was one who took on the role of promoting literacy and preserving the history of the great Northwest, with passion and dedication, both in her paid and volunteer careers.”

Hazel earned affection and admiration many times over. Hers was a lifelong commitment to her calling and to the library where she began her professional career back in 1928. She was a librarian, and for 70 years the Everett Public Library was her library. Only when she was physically unable to continue did she cease to serve. On a daily basis her legacy of works, such as her "Everett Herald Index," continues to serve the public. Her example continues to motivate and inspire.  

"Lowell Remembered" by Hazel Clark

Introduction

Today is but a continuation of all our yesterdays and merely a glimpse of tomorrow through a curtain not yet drawn. If, by looking back as we shall do briefly in this book, the pioneering spirit of the past can be rekindled, we might look towards the future with renewed vitality and respect, and it will be a good thing, for the future shall have strong roots.

Located on the western banks of the Snohomish River, the community of Lowell exists within the larger city of Everett. Begun as two separate entities, the river towns of Everett and Lowell eventually incorporated; yet even now Lowell contains its identity as a unique community.

A Capsule History

The town grew up around the sawmill of Mr. E. D. Smith who surely deserves the title of “Father of Lowell,” although his actual ownership of land came about by purchase from a Mr. Baker and a Mr. Jameson, who had bought it from Martin Getchell and Reuben Lowe, who earlier had filed claims after Mr. Smith had failed to do so. The town was named by Reuben Lowe, whose hometown had been Lowell, Massachusetts.

From reading accounts of Lowell in Whitfield’s History of Snohomish County and the early issues of Port Gardner News, which for its first four months of life was published in Lowell, just about any sort of establishment that was needed was supplied by Mr. Smith -- a hotel, a general merchandise store, a wharf, a blacksmith shop, land for a school, a community hall, and the land and lumber for a church. And since Mr. Smith served as postmaster for 21 years, from the time of establishment of a postal station, it is likely that also furnished quarters for that institution. However, one early institution for which Mr. Smith wasn’t responsible was a dance hall near the river, which may have been (although we can’t be sure) the only really rip-roaring spot, for there was no account of there being any saloons.

Lowell Milestones

1870 -- Mr. Smith’s store, the wharf, and a 2,000-foot log flume to carry logs for the mill from the top of the hill, were built. This log flume was treated with a great deal of respect by the citizens, since logs were known to jump the flume. One time a 36-foot log jumped off and buried itself for nearly 30 feet in the basement of the Lowell Hotel. Any oldtimers who have ever gazed down the steep incline of Main Street (before the freeway) from the Broadway Cutoff to Second Street, will appreciate the speed the descending logs could attain.

1871 -- The first post office

1873 -- The first plat of the town, 33 blocks of 60’ by 120’ lots, was entered by E. D. Smith, his wife, Margaret, and Martin Getchell and his wife, Olive.

1876 -- The first hotel, a store, and a blacksmith shop were opened by Mr. Smith

1889 -- The Congregational Church was organized and met in Mr. Smith’s hall until a building was erected in 1892, with Reverend Lewis as the first minister. At the time, the building sat on a bank at its present location, with outside steps leading to the doors. In 1920 the church was raised slightly, and a basement was excavated and arranged as a community gathering place. Phene (Smith) Buckley, the Smiths’ daughter, was organist for the church until after her 90th birthday in 1970.

1891 -- A. H. B. Jordan came to town as president of the Everett Pulp and Paper Company, built a palatial home at the corner of Washington and Second Streets, and lived there until his death. He was always helpful in backing any projects the people wanted, from money to help support the church to community affairs. The 3 S Railroad also was built in 1891.

1892 -- The Great Northern arrived, with a station built on the site of what was later the now-defunct plywood plant. More development of business in the town -- not this time by Mr. Smith.

A Sense of Community

Until the era of the automobile, which enabled the mill workers to live in other areas than Lowell, it was a closely knit community, with its social life centered around several clubs, lodges, and the church. Being served by a streetcar to Everett, numerous riverboats that plied the river as far as Snohomish, and connections in Everett for the Puget Sound steamboats, any necessities of life which were not available here could be satisfied by a short trip to Everett or Snohomish. An article appearing in the Port Gardner News when it was still published in Lowell stated,

“Lowell will always be a good business point independent of the Great Northern Railway, barge works and everything else except the paper and sawmills already here. These will support of town of considerable proportions themselves.”

School Days

Education was not neglected, for way back in the early days a Charles Baker conducted a school for one hour a day, with two pupils. The first regular school, with Mrs. Lyrcanus Blackman as teacher, was established in 1872 in a small building donated by Mr. Smith.

Smith later donated land at Second and Zillah for a school, with Mrs. Hattie Merwin as teacher. The large three-story plus tower building, which served as a school, with various alterations, from 1892 to the fall of 1951, stood atop the Main Street hill at the Broadway Cutoff. The building was demolished for the construction of the southbound Interstate 5 freeway lanes.

Recent History

Our Lowell Community Park started as a project of the (Lowell) Civic Group on a blackberry infested jungle (donated by the paper mill) at the junction of Third Street, Junction Avenue, and Second Street. It turned over to the City of Everett and developed by the park department into a prize-winning creative play area.

Now that slumping lumber markets and the specter of environmental damage has caused the large industries to die out, Lowell is becoming a community where real estate salesmen are again looking for houses to market -- and why not, with our almost unobstructed view of the Cascades, and the lush greenbelt screening the freeway!

One last note about the paper mill’s last gasp. All the buildings, except for the water tower and the tall smokestack that had long been a landmark, had been demolished (mail office buildings excluded) when the date of February 9, 1974, was set for the big blast to demolish the stack. The Everett Herald announced it and people came from all over, filling the street and surrounding lots to witness the fall of a mighty giant.

Unfortunately the morning of February 9 dawned with a pea-soup fog heavier than the gloom that settled over the community when the mill had been closed in 1972. All that could be seen after the belated noon blast, which sounded more like a thud, was a ghostly shadow slowly sinking to earth, a slight shiver as it finally landed, and another thud!


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This essay made possible by:
Snohomish County Community Heritage Program


Hazel Frederici Clark (1906-2000)
Courtesy Everett Public Library


Plat of Lowell, Washington Territory, 1873
Courtesy Everett Public Library


E. D. Smith, ca. 1878
Courtesy Everett Public Library


E. D. Smith store, Lowell, 1890
Courtesy UW Special Collections (Image WAS1335)


Puget Sound Pulp and Paper Company, Lowell, 1893
Photo by David Ewing, Courtesy Everett Public Library (Image No. 0128)


Mill workers' cottages, Lowell, 1892
Courtesy Everett Public Library (Image No. 0016)


Waterfront showing log chute at Smith's sawmill, Lowell, 1892
Courtesy Everett Public Library (Image No. 235)


Bird's Eye view of Everett Peninsula, including Lowell, 1893
Courtesy City of Smokestacks promotional brochure


Getchell house, Lowell (later Everett), 1901
Courtesy Everett Public Library (Image No. 1040)


Eugene D. Smith and Margaret Getchell Smith, 1906
Courtesy Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties


Lowell, 1920s
Photo by J. A. Juleen, Courtesy Everett Public Library


Church on 3rd Street, Lowell, 1920s
Photo by J. A. Juleen, Courtesy Everett Public Library


 
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