Tulalip center working to restore Everett’s landmark story pole

EVERETT — A longtime historic Everett landmark is in expert hands, but won’t likely be seen again in public soon.

The Shelton Story Pole, which stood near 44th Street SE and Rucker Avenue for nearly 70 years, is now at the Tulalips’ Hibulb Cultural Center undergoing restoration.

The popular Everett landmark disappeared from public view in 1996, when city parks workers cut it down after they discovered rot. The plan then was to restore and eventually replace the pole.

A conservationist worked on the pole, but it continued to sit in a Quonset hut at American Legion Park until 2009. That’s when the city’s administration donated the pole to the cultural center, which has the expertise to care for it, said Carol Thomas, Everett’s cultural arts manager.

The pole wasn’t sturdy enough to display vertically and it required a climate-controlled 68-foot-long room to accommodate it horizontally, something the city does not have, she said.

Although the pole has been out of sight for 15 years, she still gets calls from people who want to know what happened to it.

“I think it would be tremendous to bring the story pole out to the public again,” she said.

The late Chief William Shelton, a Tulalip Tribes cultural leader, carved the pole in 1923 from untreated Western red cedar. It’s more than 60 feet long and depicts figures representing stories designed to remind young people of the values and traditions of the Tulalip Tribes.

It originally was placed in front of Redmen Hall at California Street and Wetmore Avenue.

That proved a problem for fire engines from nearby Fire Station No. 2 that had problems navigating around the pole, said Everett historian David Dilgard.

In 1929, the pole was given to the city and moved to what was then the southern gateway to Everett at 44th Street and Rucker Avenue. There it remained for decades, a prominent Everett landmark.

Professionals will restore the pole, which is stored in an undisclosed building offsite, said Melissa Parr, a senior curator at the center. It’s not available for public viewing, but it will be in the future. The center declined to let the Herald visit or photograph the pole.

Someday the center hopes to open a totem pavilion to display all of Shelton’s works, she said.

“It was so heartwarming the care the city gave it,” Thomas said.

“They gave it back to the Tulalips, who can care for it and display it. It’s pretty special and people have a deep love for it.”

Another of Shelton’s poles at the campus of the state Capitol in Olympia also recently was taken down in six pieces.

The pieces, which weigh from 1,400 to 3,200 pounds, are now being stored in an old greenhouse not far from where the pole once stood.

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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