MONROE — The county has had a historic register for nearly 20 years, but nothing has ever been placed on the list.
That changed a couple of months ago, when the Shannahan Cabin at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds became the first building on the Snohomish County Register of Historic Places.
A ceremony on Thursday marked the designation, when a plaque was revealed outside of the cabin.
The register was created in 2002 when Snohomish County became a certified local government through the National Park Service. The designation required the county have a record of historic places.
It remained empty, until Gretchen Kaehler was hired as the county’s archaeologist about a year ago. She’s the first person to hold that position.
One of Kaehler’s goals is to build up the register. She nominated the Shannahan Cabin because of its age and educational value, but also because she had a feeling it would qualify.
“I wanted a test case,” she said. “I knew what the process said but I wanted us to run it kind of to break the ice — let’s try this, let’s see how it works, let’s figure out how to do it so next time it would be easier.”
Anyone can nominate a building for the historic register. Once an application is filled out, it goes to Kaehler and then the county’s Historic Preservation Commission for consideration.
The list isn’t limited to buildings. Certain sites can also be added, along with structures such as bridges, roads and railroads.
Those who own properties on the historic register may receive grants and tax incentives for preservation. They also get guidance from experts.
Kaehler is searching for more buildings to go on the historic register. She expects the Bush House in Index to be next on the list.
To qualify, a property must be at least 50 years old, or 40 in some cases. The commission looks at the design, location, building materials and workmanship. Nominees also should represent the county’s history through architecture, engineering or cultural heritage.
The Shannahan Cabin was built in the 1880s by an early settler named John Shannahan. After it was finished, he married Elizabeth Smallman and the couple had eight children.
At one point there was a kitchen, an upstairs and walls to separate rooms. Currently, the inside is one small open space.
It was originally built in an area called Mount Forest, in Snohomish County. In 1904, the family moved to the Tualco Valley near Monroe, and brought the cabin with them.
They eventually sold the building, and for years it remained empty. In 1936, Shannahan’s daughter, Blanche Shannahan, became concerned with the old building’s condition. She asked the owner to put it on her property, so she could care for it.
It stayed there until the late-1960s, when it was moved to the fairgrounds. Most of the time it remains empty, but the Monroe Historical Society cleans it up and opens it each year for the fair.
Elected officials and history buffs surrounded the little wood cabin Thursday morning, tucked under trees in Frontierland.
Some gave speeches, including County Councilman Sam Low. The district he represents includes Monroe.
“We see pictures of what life used to be like, but to have a building like this we can see and touch, that our kids can experience, I think is phenomenal,” he said.