Store named City’s first historic landmark

  • Jenny Lynn Zappala<br>
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:48am

Karen Crabb, 64, has fond memories of Manor Hardware, the family business. She helped her father, owner Lew Silver, with customers by day and played hide and seek with her sisters, Kristi and Kathy, by night.

This is where she met Jerry Crabb, one of her father’s employees, and fell in love. They will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in September.

“It was my home,” she said. “I grew up playing in that hardware store.”

Lynnwood grew up with the hardware store in its own way. Almost everyone in town went there at one time or another to buy a bag of nails or a bucket of paint when Lew Silver owned the shop from the 1940s to 1970s. The brick pioneer-style storefront has also housed a barber shop, newspaper, post office, school and other shops since it was built in 1919.

To protect the site’s rich history, the Historical Commission put the hardware store, located at 19500 36th Ave. W., on the City of Lynnwood’s Register of Historic Landmarks in recent weeks. Although the commission has identified 26 structures and locations of historical significance in and near Lynnwood, the hardware store is the first on the city’s register.

“I think that is exciting — not letting all of the past get away from us, keeping some of the past in the present,” Crabb said.

The distinction comes with certain practical benefits. Now the city can give the owner, John Milnor of Seattle, some flexibility to preserve the structure’s character during restoration, which Milnor is eager to start. Otherwise, city building standards would have required significant changes or tearing it down and starting over.

“We have been trying for the thing for the past five years,” Milnor said. “We should have been more forceful than we have been. I’m glad it is all over. We are anxious to get the building permit and we’re anxious to get started.”

Milnor and his wife have plans to refurbish the hardware store and make it habitable once again. Milnor hinted at office space and something “more exotic,” but declined to give more details. He has to discuss the details with city building officials and secure the proper permits.

“We know what we like to do and we want to make sure it comes with what they (the city officials) would like us to do,” Milnor said. “It will be neat when we are done.”

Marie Little, a commission member and Lynnwood resident of 52 years, is relieved.

“I have been really worried about that building for a long time,” Little, a local historian, said. “It reached a point where the city would have to ask him to demolish it.”

The Historical Commission — chair Ronald Sather, Marie Little, Peggy Reed and Niniva Tupua — will consider adding more sites to the city’s historical register in the near future.

“I think of them as Lynnwood’s hidden history because people just don’t know about them,” she said.

The Puget Mill Co. built Manor Hardware as a school, Little said. In 1922, it was moved onto a new foundation and reopened as the Puget Mill Co.’s real estate office and four additional retail spaces. A barbershop with a pool table in the back was one of the first tenants.

In the 1930s, the building housed the post office, Evergreen Empire Newspaper and other stores.

In 1947, the Puget Mill Co. sold the building to Lew R. Silver, father of the three Silver sisters.

The one-story, brick storefront remains a rare example of early pioneer commercial architecture. That old-fashioned charm is what attracted the Milnor family to Manor Hardware. The couple have restored several other historic buildings and live in a turn-of- the-century house, Milnor, a professional contractor said.

“We like old stuff.”

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