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Colby Ave
(Part of central business district)
Self-guided history tour.
Everett, Washington

Colby Ave

2600: 26th to Everett Ave

Doghouse Tavern ()

4-5-46 first B&M opened at 2615 Colby
4-13-65 B&M opened at 2615 Colby about this time

2700: Everett Ave to California St

Everett to California in one block

Everett Auto Company ()

Medical Dental Building (1925)

Architect: Morrison & Stimson.

1920s. Everett Public Library archives

This Renaissance/Gothic style building has massing similar to Art Deco buildings of the period. It's the largest of the commercial buildings during the 1920s boom. In fact, the Medical Dental Building was Everett’s tallest multi-story building for more than 50 years. A seven-story addition was built in 1956.

2800: California St to Hewitt Ave

California to Hewitt

2900: Hewitt Ave to Wall St

Hewitt Ave to Wall St

Jack O'Donnell collection

Everett Theater (1901, 1924)

The original theater. Jack O'Donnell collection
There were two balconies in the original theater. Jack O'Donnell collection

The Everett Theater was the premier playhouse and venue for silent and talkie films in our city. Railroad tycoon James J. Hill's company, the Everett Improvement Company, was managed by John T. McChesney. Envisioned as an important cultural asset for the industrial city, it was loved by all. In those early days there were a number of other theaters in Everett, but none as large or magnificent. Other theaters in Everett were not happy that the vast resources of the Everett Improvement Company created such an ornate and grand venue.

First Theater (1901)

Architect: Charles Herbert Bebb

Note that the Historic Everett logo is the original window of this theater.

McChesney formed the Everett Theater Company in 1900, hiring Bebb who had worked the Chicago Auditorium. Bebb was in Seattle overseeing a proposed theater there, never built. He designed a $70,000 theater for 1200 people (one sixth of Everett's population). It had three levels: ground floor, mezzanine, and "peanut gallery".

The stage, larger than any in the northwest, had 30,000 feet of rope from the rigging loft 65 feet above it. 1360 lights were controlled by dimmers.

On Nov 4, 1901, upper crust citizens were seated in boxes and seats on the main floor. Working class were in the second balcony. The Broadway show "Casino Girls" starring Miss Claraa Palmer was a disappointing event though. However, later road shows and stock company productions were very popular. Performers include Lon Cheney, Richard Mansfield, Al Jolson, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Helen Keller, and Mack Swain.

The first movie, of a boxing match was in 1906 but the projector failed, and viewers missed the end of the match. It was dangerous due to the highly flammable film stock. Insurance companies refused to allow motion pictures. It wasn't until 1913 that films were regularly shown, and by 1918, motion pictures were the rage. The vaudeville era was nearly over.

A few months before the Everett Massacre, strike breakers were treated to a show on August 29th, 1916. Outside, 150 strikers followed them after the show down Hewitt Ave towards the bay. A violent confrontation ensued, with the "scabs" rescued by police. On November 5, the bloodiest labor violence, later dubbed the Everett Massacre happened at the city dock.

Fire!

The building was mostly destroyed on December 11, 1923, started by a blaze under the stage. Three dozen firefighters battled the dangerous fire for three hours. They were forced to retreat and protect nearby buildings. This one fire alone quadrupled the city's fire losses for the year. Oddly, the Rose Theatre just east had on its marquee "The Midnight Alarm, the most sensational fire feature ever produced."

New Everett Theater (1924)

Remodel architect: Fitzherbert Leather

Fire gutted the inside, but the exterior walls were mostly intact. On the alley you can see bricked-up window openings from the original theater. The west facade was torn down and replaced by a Renaissance facade with curved crown molding and terra cotta cartouches. Built for $106,500, reportedly it had the largest single piece of structural steel in Snohomish County. It had 250,000 lb of steel, a $22,000 boiler, a removed second balcony, an extended new main balcony, and seating for 1200. The stage was slightly smaller but suitable for any road show according to reports. There were ten dressing rooms, and animal compartment, and a shower stall for seals. A theater organ was installed.

The 1924 New Everett Theater. Jack O'Donnell collection
In 1929, it was the Fox Everett Theater. Everett Public Library collection

Despite being set up for live stage, the first show was the motion picture "The Reckless Age" on August 29, 1924. In 1929, it became the "Fox Everett Theater" and part of the Everett Theaters company along with others in the city. This lasted four years when it became "The Everett". By 1931 the theater had its own Mickey Mouse club with its newsletter. In 1933, Everett's own Max Miller's story "I Covered the Waterfront" was shown.

1952 and on

Television robbed many theaters of moviegoers in the early 1950s. The theater was modernized. The organ went to Queen Anne high school, seating went from 1200 to 970, the entrance ramp changed to stairs, the entry moved to the center of the building with a free standing ticket kiosk, and an imposing neon marquee placed above it.

In the mid 1960s and 1970s, mulitplexes took over the movie palace experience of earlier generations. Concern over the Everett Theater's future, in 1975 it was placed on the state's register of historic places. Competition from Everett Mall and other venues hurt proceeds. In 1979, the balcony was converted to two screens, so they could now show three movies at once. By 1989, the heating system stopped working and the theater was closed in the fall. The Everett Theater Society was formed, and struggled mightily to restore the building to its 1924 look. It remains today the last of the original eight theaters still standing.

Everett Herald/Everett Museum of History (1903)

The Everett Herald reported on their own building, of course. The September 11, 1903 edition said their new $26,000 home was nearing completion. Made of buff colored pressed brick and blue sandstone, they touted it as the finest newspaper building in the state. By the beginning of 1904 they moved in.

After the 1956 fire, the building was closed for four years. It was remodeled in 1960 for Everett Abstract and Title.

Everett Museum of History

In 1953 the Snohomish County Museum and Historical Association was formed and had exhibit space at Everett’s Legion Memorial Park. Later the museum moved to Rockefeller Avenue, still later a storefront at 1913 Hewitt Ave. The name was changed to Everett Museum of History but has been closed since 2007. Due to a generous grant from the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Living Trust, they purchased this building and hope to open in 2021.

3000: Wall St to Pacific Ave

Federal Building (1917)

Jack O'Donnell collection

Architect: Oscar Wenderoth.

This was Everett's post office from 1917-1964. The L-shaped neo-Classical Revival style is symmetric and well proportioned. Ionic pilasters set in smooth ashlar cement finish.

Culmback Building (1924)

Everett Public Library archives

Architect: Andrew Willatsen (who once worked with Frank Lloyd Wright).

Built for Chris Culmback, who had a cigar and candy business since 1892. This well preserved building from the 1920s boom has buff brick and cream colored glazed terra cotta features.

Interurban Building (1911-)

For awhile, the building was an office for the Snohomish County PUD. Jack O'Donnell collection

The Interuran electric railway ran between Everett and Seattle from April 30, 1910 until February 20, 1939. It also ran to Tacoma. An infamous event on the interurban led to the Everett Massacre in 1916. Other than this building and some sites in Seattle (e.g., the "Waiting for the Interurban" statue in Fremont), the legacy that remains is the popular Interurban trail that starts at about 43rd and Colby, heading southbound. Originally the building was two stories. The third story was added get date.

Note the dispatcher's window projecting out on the north side of the building.

End of walking tour

We hope you enjoyed your walking tour of the Colby Ave! For more tours, see Historic Everett walking tours. Write us below if you have comments, more history, or questions.


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