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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition, where 450 of 700 stories originate
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Photo study of Sedro-Woolley, first decade of 20th century

      A few years ago we were honored with a visit from Muriel Weissberg, 90+ in age and a granddaughter of Morris Schneider, one of Woolley's earliest general store owners. While researching at the University of Washington several years ago, we happened upon a one-line reference to a woman named Muriel Waxman Weissberg, who had donated copies of advertisements for the department store of her grandfather, Morris Schneider, of Woolley, Washington. No contact information was given and the University could not legally provide her address, if she were indeed still alive, but the representative gave me a hint that she had also been a resource for other people studying the Volunteer Park area of Seattle.
      We guessed that she would have to be her late 80s or 90s. After nearly three years of searching, a chain of kind people finally connected us with Muriel, who is now a widow living in Redding, California. Serendipity struck once again. Yes, she was nearly as old as we guessed but she is still hale and hearty and she loves to travel, and she has always wanted a tour of her grandfather's town. So, in September 2008, she and her son, Bob Weissberg, and his wife, Miriam, visited Sedro-Woolley and we conducted a tour of the area for her. Meanwhile, she supplied this profile of her grandfather and family and she also passed on scans of breathtaking photos of Woolley that no one outside her family has seen for more than a century. Thus we share her story, and the photos, almost exactly a century after Morris moved his family from Sedro-Woolley to Seattle. Muriel is a daughter of his eldest daughter, Rebecca Schneider Waxman. You can read the whole Schneider profile here
      Schneider moved his young family from Los Angeles to Anacortes in 1891 and temporarily took over a tailor's shop. A year later he moved to new town of Woolley, which was located near the crossing of three lines. He may well have opened one of the first retail establishments in town, mixed among the hotels and saloons that served travelers who arrived at the railroad depot across the street. On this site we want to share the special photos from Muriel. They include the most beautiful photo of the original Osterman House Hotel, the predecessor to the Gateway Hotel.

      This is the crème de la crème. The Osterman House Hotel on another 4th of July, which we guess to be 1898 or before. As you can see, the Osterman has not yet built on the extension to the north. You can also see in the background the trees that still stood, surrounding the town, in the vicinity of present Highway 20. We also see that the area north of the tracks was thickly populated.

(Osterman House)
The Osterman House was where the drummers — the salesmen, stayed, and in some style. Originally called the St. Clair, this hotel had a special showing room for salesmen's samples. Think of Professor Harold Hill in Music Man. This is where he would have stayed. You can read a short history of the hotel, and its most famous occupant here.

4th of July week parade, 1903, Sedro-Woolley

Click on thumbnail below for a larger version
(Osterman House)
This is quite a treat. We are looking across the street to the east side of the 600 block of Metcalf Street. The Osterman House Hotel stood where the Gateway is now.
(Frye-Bruhn Building)
The photographer moved his camera a little to the left and photographed the Frye-Bruhn building, a packing house that had evolved from David Donnelly's original butchering business..
(Woolley Mansion)
The festivities were staged at the corner of Murdock and Woodworth streets, with the grand stage next to the P.A. Woolley mansion, recently built for the town founder.
Many years ago someone told us that a farmer hereabouts has one of the old arches in a barn someplace nearby. Does anyone know?

Click on thumbnail below for a larger version
(Osterman House)
The northern arch for the parade was located the Schneider store's front door, on the south side of the railroad tracks. Note the civil war cannons on top.
(Schneider store)
Morris Schneider's store and we just noticed that he called it a department store.
(Arch and float)
This photo from 1910 shows the arch that was over State Street at the time, beside Bowery Square, the later location of Jungquist Furniture. See the new Episcopal church in the background.

Story posted on March 28, 2011
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This article originally appeared in Issue 54 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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