Banking on kids’ futures

Couple wants a permanent home for children’s museum


Herald Writer

EVERETT — John and Idamae Schack each carry special childhood memories from their first visits to museums.

Idamae Schack remembers the dinosaur bones she saw at a museum in Denver. And her husband remembers a particular canoe at a museum in this state more than 80 years ago.

Now, for years to come, children in Snohomish County will have the chance to savor memories from their first visits to a museum made especially for them.

The Children’s Museum of Snohomish County used a recent donation from the Everett couple to buy a former bank building in the heart of downtown at 1502 Wall St.

The museum will begin a campaign within weeks to raise about $3 million for the first phase of the project, including renovations and a remodel of the building, said Nancy Johnson, executive director of the museum. A second phase, estimated to cost another $1 million, includes building an outdoor discovery area, she said.

The nonprofit group will only move about a block, but the new location will be much larger and will make the children’s museum one of the largest in the state.

The museum has been in a temporary location for about five years, and the hunt for a new place has been long, Johnson said.

Records filed with Snohomish County show the children’s museum bought the property for $895,000 from M-C Associates in Edmonds. The assessed value is $1.05 million. The amount of the donation used to buy the former Everett Mutual Bank building was not disclosed.

"We support anything that’s related to children," Idamae Schack said, adding that the couple decided to support the museum after witnessing the dedication of the people who run the program.

The couple have consistently supported the area’s hospitals, the Historic Everett Theatre, and national and international charities through the years. In 1999, the couple donated $1 million to the Everett Symphony Orchestra, making that the largest single gift to a nonprofit arts organization in the county.

The Schack donation, and one made by Dr. William Brust earlier this year, creates the foundation for the new museum project. The work isn’t done yet, though. The Schacks said they hope others will add to the efforts to build the new museum.

Because the museum will need to raise $3 million, it could be more than a year before the museum opens in the new location. The 18,500-square-foot building is across the street from the Monte Cristo Hotel.

The museum is a place where children can learn through play.

"What we’re about is sparking the curiosity, the ohs, the wows and ahhhs in life," Johnson said.

The former bank vault and drive-up teller window will likely stay and be included in an exhibit, Johnson said.

The new location is four times as big as the current museum and will allow for more exhibits and learning areas. History, art, science and the culture of Snohomish County will be incorporated into permanent and revolving exhibits, Johnson said.

Preliminary drawings show spaces for an air and flight exhibit, a town square, a toddler area and a farm exhibit. The new museum will also have classrooms and rooms for birthday parties.

The museum will finally become a permanent part of the community, Johnson said.

In 1999, more than 25,000 people — a record number — visited the museum at 3013 Colby Ave. to take part in the entertaining, hands-on exhibits.

The museum first began in the Marysville Mall in 1993. The organization was forced to look for a new home when the mall closed a year later. The museum opened again in October 1995 when the city of Everett approved a temporary lease on Colby Avenue.

The Schacks decided to give to the museum several months ago after learning the museum was looking for a new home and that a retired dentist had donated property as seed money for a new museum, John Schack said.

"We wanted to help them do what they are already doing," he said.

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