Monroe steam stack will be decoratively painted

MONROE — The steam stack at the old Carnation milk condensery on U.S. 2 is set to get a new look.

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce held an election to choose one of four images to be painted onto the 150-foot tower. They decided on a scene that includes Mount Index, the Skykomish River and evergreen trees.

Una Wirkebau-Hartt said she wondered why the steamstack wasn’t painted when she took a the job as the chamber’s executive director earlier this year. She reached out to the Monroe Historical Society for help narrowing down the designs put to the vote. She envisioned the steam stack showcasing the city’s past.

“The point is to start conversations and get people talking about Monroe,” Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Monroe’s Carnation plant burned down in the 1940s. The city’s steam stack and one other are the last standing remnants of the milk company in Washington, she continued.

Carnation’s steam stack in Mount Vernon has also been painted. Wirkebau-Hartt has enlisted the same painter, Jose Cardona, of Mount Vernon, to do the work in Monroe. Artist Ester McLatchy, also of Mount Vernon, is lined up to convert the image from paper to the steam stack.

“That’s not a skill everyone has,” Wirkebau-Hartt said.

Wirkebau-Hartt has been reviewing the condensery’s local history with records from 1908 to 1921. Wirkebau-Hartt also contacted the plant owner’s great-great-great grandson. He is planning to come to the ribbon cutting for the newly painted steam stack. That event is expected to take place at the end of September.

The steam stack is set to be power-washed before painting begins, probably the second week of September.

In the future, Wirkebau-Hartt hopes to have historic photos and information about the history of the stack, the carnation plant and Monroe.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

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