Graffiti can be seen on the back walls of the Pioneer Gehl House in Jennings Memorial Park in Marysville. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Graffiti can be seen on the back walls of the Pioneer Gehl House in Jennings Memorial Park in Marysville. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Historic Marysville pioneer home vandalized with graffiti

Historical society members are at a loss for how to repair the Gehl home in Jennings Memorial Park.

MARYSVILLE — The walls of hand-hewn cedar boards in Marysville’s Pioneer Gehl Home were built from felled trees almost 140 years ago.

Last week, vandalism on those boards brought sadness to many who appreciate the historic house in Jennings Memorial Park. Two faces of the structure’s exterior were marred with spray-painted graffiti.

John and Catherine Gehl built the house in 1884 on a homestead just north of Getchell. The couple had moved with their 10-year-old son, Phillip, from New York to the Pacific Northwest with dreams of building a home and planting some crops.

One hundred years later, the Marysville Historical Society purchased the home to preserve it. Piece by piece, volunteers disassembled the house, moved it and reconstructed it in Jennings Park. More than 300 hours of work went into moving and restoring the one-story, one-room house to its original condition.

Historical society members were at a loss this month about how to fix the home’s exterior. They were searching for a way to remove the graffiti while preserving the original condition of the wood.

“You can’t paint over it,” Marysville Historical Society board member Steve Muller said. “You can’t go buy a board down at the lumber store and replace it, because this is not store-bought. You don’t want to turn it into that, because then it loses the value of what it is.”

Muller said the society is reluctant to powerwash or sand the surface, because those repairs could damage the texture of the antique boards. As of Friday afternoon, police had not identified anybody responsible for the vandalism.

The house and the grassy yard surrounding it have served as an event space for many people in the community over the years. Weddings, graduation parties, memorial services, baby showers and other functions have taken place at the home.

During the summer months, the house’s interior is opened up as a museum. It is filled with historical furniture — such as an 1800s-era butter churner and a child’s crib — that give visitors a glimpse into the way life looked for some early Snohomish County settlers more than a century ago.

“Now, it’s a throwaway society. Back then, you made things by hand and you were lucky to have whatever you could put together,” Muller said. “It’s a good reminder of how hard people worked to get us to where we are today. Sometimes people lose sight of that or don’t appreciate it.”

Linda Molitor, a historical society board member, said she’s heartbroken the treasured community space was damaged.

“They took a lot away from the community,” Molitor said. “They took away from the old people as well as the young ones. It’s heartbreaking.”

The historical society is run by volunteers, and repairs will need to be covered through donations. To donate, visit

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen

Talk to us

More in Local News

A worker disassembles a fluidized bed incinerator at the Edmonds Wastewater Treatment Plant on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 in Edmonds, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Edmonds, $26M goes to a cleaner way to get rid of poop

The city will reduce its wastewater carbon footprint by dumping an incinerator and using new technology.

The Voting Commissioners of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released draft Legislative District maps Tuesday. (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
Early maps of legislative districts endanger some incumbents

Under one redistricting proposal, Mill Creek joins Everett. Under another, Monroe joins Wenatchee.

Tuesday's career fair will be at Everett Community College, which incidentally is also one of the participants. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Snohomish County Career Fair set for Tuesday at EvCC

Job seekers can connect with more than 40 employers at this year’s annual event.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Granite Falls altercation: Dog killed, man shot in head

A 20-year-old man allegedly shot an intruder, 54, who threatened two people and killed their dog.

Man found dead in Mountlake Terrace homeless camp identified

Oscar Banos Mejia, 40, was discovered in the bushes along the Interurban Trail on Friday afternoon.

Police respond to a crash in which Isaiah Funden, 24, of Marysville, died after his motorcycle collided with a car Monday morning on the Snohomish River Bridge. (Everett Police Department)
Motorcyclist who died in Everett bridge crash identified

The Marysville man, 24, was involved in a collision with a car and ejected into the Snohomish River.

Callie Childers 20210921
Car of slain Marysville woman was set on fire

Her body was found along a remote stretch of U.S. 2, east of Stevens Pass. Her car was found near Snohomish.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

Most Read