LAKE STEVENS — Anita Kroeze cringed at the sound of support beams, plywood and drywall snapping inside an excavator scoop.
To Kroeze, president of the Lake Stevens Historical Society, that sound was a bittersweet goodbye to the Lake Stevens Historical Museum and Sno-Isle Lake Stevens Library that were both demolished last week.
While the rubble of the museum and library was being hauled off site, the historic Grimm House was rolled just a few hundred feet away to its permanent home next to the future site of the new museum.
This is the 118-year-old Grimm House’s second move since it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“It seems like just the other day I saw them coming down the street with it, and that was in ’96,” said DeeAnne Williams, who’s lived in Lake Stevens since 1959.
Lake Stevens’ population has grown about 580% since 1990 to about 34,000. Williams and other lifelong Lake Stevens residents have seen downtown in many forms and are now watching it transformed into a modernized retail, recreation and community space.
“The then-mayor John Spencer came up with this plan to revitalize this area,” said Cyndi Fraser, treasurer for the Lake Stevens Historical Society. She said she’s seen about eight different Lake Stevens landmarks come down over the years.
Russ Wright, community development director for the city of Lake Stevens, has been a part of the planning since the beginning.
He said the city’s final plans were guided by input from the Citizens Advisory Group. “What came out of that were five sort of fundamental concepts that would help with the rejuvenation of the downtown,” Wright said.
In 2018, the Lake Stevens City Council adopted the Downtown Lake Stevens Subarea Plan, which outlined the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, including the expansion of North Cove Park.
The North Cove Park Expansion project was broken into three phases. The first and second — creating the Mill on Lake Stevens, great lawn, splash pad, relocating the Lake Stevens Veterans Memorial, building a playground and picnic shelter — have already been completed. The third phase, construction of the Mill Spur, a “festival street” that will host the farmer’s market, Aquafest and other outdoor festivals, is in progress.
“What’s also going to be really interesting is it has big replica railroad arms that will open and close the street,” Wright said.
The city envisions the street as a bustling outdoor event space in the summer, with space for an outdoor ice skating rink in the plaza during the fall and winter.
The south side of the street will provide space for retail storefronts as well as the Grimm House and new historical museum.
Wright said the festival street — slated for completion this fall — is budgeted at $2.5 million, funded in part by a capital budget allocation.
Construction of the new Historical Museum is not included within that budget.
Meanwhile, the volunteer museum staff is holding community history pop-ups, where they have discussed local tales including the locomotive at the bottom of the lake.
“We have a presence at the market, we have a presence on Facebook, we have a semi-office over here in the old fire station,” Kroeze said.
The historical society is tasked with fundraising for the development and design of the interior of the new museum, which they hope will be a community space.
“We want to have community outreach there,” Kroeze said. “We want to have … a day where all the kids out in the park can come over to the museum and we’ll put out ice cream makers and they can churn them and make ice cream.”
The historical society envisions local schools taking tours of the old schoolroom display they hope to have, visitors enjoying their replica of the Mitchell Pharmacy complete with a soda fountain and vintage wood tables, and community members using their space to lead classes.
Wright said the city made an effort to ensure the downtown revitalization efforts would connect the city’s past and present.
“We’ve interpreted some of the forms of buildings in the past, for example, the historic Rucker Mill … there’s old photographs that show the silhouette of that building and we interpreted that shape when we constructed the new building called The Mill,” Wright said. “We’re going to be going out for request for some public art to construct a sculpture that’s going to be reminiscent of the old Rucker water tower … not a replica, but an interpretation to honor the past, but still looking kind of forward in the community.”
Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.