City Hall site has lively history

MUKILTEO – The future home of Mukilteo City Hall once drew attention for a different reason.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the Tiffany family had country music parties at their house on the northwest corner of Harbour Pointe Boulevard and Cyrus Road – “shindigs,” family member Jonette Wiltse said.

“The guys stationed at Paine Field would drive their cars over and sit outside and make out with their girlfriends while they listened to the music,” recalled Wiltse, 48, who now lives near Arlington.

Whenever one of the Air Force servicemen would knock on the door, the family was happy to invite him in, she said.

The site selected last week by the Mukilteo City Council for the city’s new headquarters became home in 1951 to John and Pearl Tiffany and their two sons, Gene and Larry. The boys were 9 and 6, respectively, when the family moved in. Jonette came along in 1957.

The family’s house, now dilapidated and covered with graffiti, still sits on the lot.

In the 1950s, Harbour Pointe Boulevard was called Old Mill Road, and went only a short distance to the west past Cyrus Road. It ended at a swamp, Wiltse said.

The kids used to tromp into the woods to a swing her brothers helped build over a ravine, she recalled.

Only about 15 homes were scattered in the rectangle between Cyrus Road, about a mile long, and the Mukilteo Speedway, Wiltse said. One man lived in a tree stump, she said.

There were a few scattered businesses along the southern end of the Speedway, but none farther north until the 1980s.

“We used to pull the wagon up and down the road at Christmastime and deliver fruitcakes and roasts to all the neighbors,” Wiltse said. “There was a huge sense of community.”

Shortly before Jonette was born, the family acquired another member: Paint, the horse.

“Everybody knew Paint,” Wiltse said.

“They got so they’d recognize the place by the horse,” said Pearl Tiffany, now 86, who lives with her daughter’s family.

Paint lived the rest of his life on the property, into the 1980s. Also, “I recall we had a cow or two,” Wiltse said.

Pearl Tiffany had a large garden and sold raspberries. She was part of the Speedway Homemakers Club, with the members sharing recipes and domestic crafts.

The boys graduated from Cascade High School, Jonette from Mariner – “the second year it was open,” she said.

John Tiffany ran his own business, Inland Pacific Clearing and Grading. His work included clearing for the Northgate and Aurora Village malls, Wiltse said.

John Tiffany passed away in the mid-’70s. Jonette married a man in the Coast Guard and the couple lived in another house on the property, which extended about five acres north along Cyrus Way.

The family sold all but about an acre at the corner, containing the family’s home. Pearl continued to live there until 1992, when she moved to Arlington along with her daughter.

The family received numerous offers for the property, including from a storage company and a sheet-metal business, but declined.

“Emotional attachment was a huge part of keeping it,” Wiltse said.

Despite the family’s best efforts to secure the house, determined squatters kept breaking into it, she said. Garbage was continually dumped there. Eventually, it no longer felt like home, Wiltse said.

This year, the city came calling.

Negotiations took a couple of months and the family and the city agreed on a sale price, pending approval of the City Council: $775,000.

“We felt better about selling for city hall compared to some of the other people who contacted us,” Wiltse said.

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