Looking back: Early Everett commercial structure touted as fireproof

1910 construction of Commerce Building followed 1909 blazes that damaged many Everett buildings.

A Jan. 25, 1910 Herald article touted a unique aspect of the Commerce Building soon to be built on the northeast corner of Hewitt and Rockefeller avenues in Everett.

“With every modern architectural feature and thoroughly proof against fire,” began the front-page story announcing construction of what would become a cornerstone building of early Everett’s commercial hub.

Just months before, a string of fires had swept through city, burning down the Snohomish County Courthouse and several other buildings. Now, a group of Everett newcomers by way of Nebraska had swept in, purchased some of the fire-damaged property and revealed their plan.

Prominent Everett architect Benjamin F. Turnbull would design the five-story, semi-U-shaped building made of concrete, brick and steel at a cost of $100,000.

Once opened, the Everett Business School occupied the top floor and the Bank of Commerce did business in the large open area on the first floor.

“The location of the building is regarded as ideal for its purposes,” the bank’s president, William Stockbridge, told the newspaper.

“With the paving of Rockefeller, the corner will be further improved,” he said.

Other notable early tenants included Turnbull, who designed at least seven major commercial buildings in Everett’s central business district as well as several houses, and the Everett Women’s Suffrage Club, which fought that year for a woman’s right to vote in Washington, a full decade before the 19th Amendment granted that right nationwide.

Over the decades, the installation of fake wood paneling and drop ceilings altered the building’s interior.

The structure stood vacant when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, but has since been converted into commercial space and low-income housing.

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