The Eclipse Lumber Company along the Snohomish River in Everett burned down May 7, 1962. Now the site is near the Towns at Riverfront, a development of nearly 200 townhouses. (Historic Everett photo)

The Eclipse Lumber Company along the Snohomish River in Everett burned down May 7, 1962. Now the site is near the Towns at Riverfront, a development of nearly 200 townhouses. (Historic Everett photo)

Harry Stuchell’s death, at 95, a reminder of mill town past

Today, the site of the Everett family’s Eclipse Mill is near about 200 new townhouses along the river.

Eclipse Mill Road, that’s an Everett street sign east of I-5 just off Pacific Avenue. South toward new townhomes near the Snohomish River, the roadway becomes Riverfront Boulevard. There’s no mill — not anymore.

A finished lumber operation owned by Everett’s Stuchell family, the Eclipse Mill became “a mountain of ashes” when a raging fire destroyed it the night of May 7, 1962.

“The only thing standing this morning were the mill’s office building, a water tower, a river-side crane and a barking machine,” The Everett Daily Herald reported the next day.

Mill owner Harry Stuchell had left work shortly before the fire started just after 9 p.m.

Stuchell was at a gas station “when the fire trucks rolled east on Hewitt Avenue,” The Herald’s Tom Borgford wrote. “He paid the customary glance to the eastern skies that he said he always gives when the trucks roll east, and didn’t see any signs of fire. When he got home, his neighbor told him his mill was ablaze.”

Harry Stuchell Sr. died Jan. 29 at age 95. His family owned the Eclipse Mill, which burned down in 1962.

Harry Stuchell Sr. died Jan. 29 at age 95. His family owned the Eclipse Mill, which burned down in 1962.

Harry William Stuchell Sr. died Jan. 29 at age 95. His life of business and service to his family and community will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Sunday during a memorial service at Everett’s First Presbyterian Church.

Born in Everett to Edwin and Neva (Denney) Stuchell on April 24, 1924, he graduated from Lakeside School, attended the University of Washington, and served with the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was general manager of the Eclipse Lumber Company when the mill, founded in 1897, burned to the ground.

After the fire, he had lumber interests in Eastern Washington and Oregon mills. He founded Stuchell Enterprises, an investment company, “and enjoyed working well into his 90s,” according to his obituary.

Carol (Carpenter) Stuchell, his wife of 64 years, died in 2011. Married in 1946, they had known each other since childhood. “There were three Carpenter brothers, and one of them was my wife’s father,” Harry Stuchell said in 2011. “The other two married my dad’s two sisters.”

The Stuchells raised six children. Harry Stuchell is survived by his daughters, Jean Messner, Barb Johnson, Linda Chapman, Debbie Roberts and Nancy Kniest; by his daughter-in-law Dawn Stuchell, the widow of his son Harry Stuchell Jr., who was known as Sandy; by 23 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.

The Stuchells were devoted to the life of their hometown. Carol Stuchell served on the boards of Camp Fire’s Snohomish County Council, the local American Red Cross, the Everett Woman’s Book Club, Providence General Children’s Association and other groups.

A supporter of many charities, Harry Stuchell was also active in the First Presbyterian Church of Everett, where his wife was a Sunday school teacher and elder, and with the Everett Golf and Country Club. In their younger years, they were part of a social and dance group called the Reveleers.

In a nod to history, his boat was named the Eclipse.

Younger generations have carried on the spirit of giving. In 2007, Kniest was co-chairperson of a $2.7 million fundraising campaign for Camp Fire’s Snohomish County Council. In 1941, her grandmother helped secure land for Camp Killoqua near Stanwood.

As new homes rise along the riverfront, Harry Stuchell’s passing is a reminder of what was — a mill town.

In 2016, the Everett City Council was considering potential names for a 3.5-acre park, part of the Riverfront Redevelopment Project. Suggestions came from the Lowell and Port Gardner neighborhood associations. The park isn’t there yet, but the city’s Historical Commission recommended it be named Eclipse Mill Park.

Local historian Jack O’Donnell remembers the spectacular Eclipse fire. It sent flames shooting 300 feet into the air. An estimated $2.5 million in lumber and mill infrastructure went up in smoke. Firefighters at the time believed it may have started in a planer unit.

“I was there,” said O’Donnell, a 74-year-old retired teacher.

He recalled being home in Everett when his brother, Larry O’Donnell, stopped by to let him know about the blaze. “There was a great big fire down on the riverfront,” he said. “Driving up, a ball of gas or something exploded into the sky.”

He remembered being part of “some kind of bucket brigade” of locals trying to help. “That was the fire of my life,” O’Donnell said. “A lot of people were down there. It was a big deal.”

Later, he had the chance to get to know Harry Stuchell. They talked of Everett’s past in Stuchell’s office, which O’Donnell said looked north toward Mount Baker from the downtown Key Bank Tower.

“What a totally gracious man. I’d always heard that before I knew him,” O’Donnell said. “For being such a commanding person, he was so humble. Just a total gentleman.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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