Marking Edmonds history

EDMONDS — Every street has a story, especially in a city with more than 124 years of history.

Starting later this month, people will be able to view 12 interpretive markers throughout the downtown area, providing insights into the city’s history and cultural heritage.

Each highlights a specific site and discusses the various stages of the history of the community, using text and historic photographs etched into brass, said Frances Chapin, the city’s arts and culture manager.

Seattle sculpture artist Judith Caldwell was selected to design and produce the markers. Other public art pieces she and fellow artist and husband Daniel Caldwell have created are displayed throughout the Puget Sound region, including both inside and outside Everett Station.

Most of the markers in the city’s Cultural Heritage Tour will be placed along Fourth Avenue, and several will be on Main Street. Each has a theme. “Between the visual and text, the artist has attempted to create something that people of all ages would find interesting,” Chapin said.

The marker near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street in Edmonds discusses its historic roots, including George Brackett, often called the city’s founder. The marker has etched photographs of some of the buildings at that corner and includes a bronze casting of Brackett.

“That intersection has been key in the community since the very beginning,” dating back to the days of horse-drawn wagons coming to the city from the east and south, Chapin said. “It was the major road to the waterfront, and later to the ferry.”

During World War II, donations to scrap metal drives were collected in the middle of the intersection, she said. In the 1960s, the Edmonds Arts Festival was held nearby at the Carnegie Library.

One of the signs will note that a lot behind the Church Key Pub on Fourth Avenue was the site of the city’s original schoolhouse, Chapin said. During WWII, it was used as an airplane observation tower. “Young people would volunteer to spend the night up there, looking for planes,” she said.

The project was paid for with a $24,000 grant from Preserve America, a federal initiative to encourage preservation of cultural heritage. The money was matched by a number of local sources, including the city’s lodging tax, several city departments, and donations from the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation and the Seattle*-based Hubbard Family Foundation.

A website, Stages of History, and QR codes placed on each sign, provide further information on each location.

The downtown walking tour of historic sites is part of a long-term plan for redoing three blocks of Fourth Avenue between the Edmonds Center for the Arts and the main downtown retail area to make it more pedestrian friendly and highlight arts and culture in the community, Chapin said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Ribbon cutting

A ribbon cutting for Edmonds’ 12 new historic markers is scheduled for 5 p.m. July 17 at the Edmonds Historical Museum, 118 5th Ave. N.

* Correction, July 9, 2014: This article originally used an incorrect location for the Hubbard Family Foundation.

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