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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
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Story of the Hammer Mansion
Landmark comes down

(Mansion teardown)
      Workmen begin tearing down a familiar landmark, the Hammer home, early this week in Sedro-Woolley. The three-story wooden frame home was built in 1902 by Emerson Hammer. No definite plans for the property have been announced. (Herald staff photo by Nina Brady)

Skagit Valley Herald, December 1966
      The Hammer home, a familiar landmark at the [southwest] corner of State and Fourth streets in Sedro-Woolley, is disappearing as workmen tear down the three-story structure. The wooden frame ten-room home was built in 1902 by Emerson Hammer, a former businessman in Sedro-Woolley who served as Skagit County's state senator for 12 years and mayor of Sedro-Woolley for a term. Hammer owned and operated the Sedro-Woolley Union Mercantile Company for many years before his death.
      Mrs. [Isabel] Hammer lived in the home until her death in September of this year. She was 97. George Hammer, son of the Hammers, said today that no definite plans for the 120x120-foot site have been made. [The site was sold to the Washington Federal Savings company, which soon erected the building that stands on the spot today. Longtime Sedro-Woolley retailer Fred Vochatzer became the general manager.]

(Mansion in 1902)
      This photo of the mansion was taken soon after it was erected and it was featured in the December 1902 issue of Sebring's Illustrated magazine.

(Hammer Mansionx)
      This photo of the mansion is in many collections around town. It shows the Green home across the alley to the left, and if you look to the right, behind the outbuilding and a dark house, you will see the Hegg home across Warner Street. Emerson added a special feature, a covered walkway bathed in flowers that kept Isabel dry when she had to walk to the privy at the end of the lot on cold, rainy days.
      Across Warner Street, you can see the top of another early mansion, also three stories like the Hammer home, one only three such houses of that height in the whole town. That home at the southwest corner of Warner and Fourth streets dates back to the early 1890s, along with the Devin and Bingham mansions across Fourth Street to the east. It was built by Ben Vandeveer, a Klondike gold miner who built in 1898 what became known as the B&A Buffet Saloon, which stood downtown at the corner of Metcalf and State streets where Wells Fargo Bank stands now. Sedro pioneer Ad Davison bought that house in an unknown year. He and his wife, Betsey (Firth), daughter of one of the earliest San Juan Island pioneer families, raised ten children there. Ad's granddaughter, Jean Fahey married Norm Lisherness, a Lyman native who became the Sedro-Woolley police chief in the 1950s. They lived in the house from the late 1940s on. Norm died during the Fourth of July parade of 1967 and Jean continued living there until her death in 2005. Their son Tom now owns the home.
      You can see that the then-unpaved 4th street stretched south to the horizon at the slope down to the river bottom lands. Fourth originally did not extend through the 900 block and south. Banker C.E. Bingham's wife Julia wanted a rose garden there in the 1000 block and didn't give up the throughway until a few years before this photo was taken. See the Hammer Mansion story elsewhere in Issue 41.

(George Hammer on horse)
      Emerson and Isabel Hammer's son, George Hammer, astride his horse after he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. After he returned, he started his own business in partnership with Joe Oliver, the Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop, which still stands on Metcalf Street after 86 years.

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Story posted on Dec. 15, 2007, last updated Dec. 30, 2007 . . . Please report any broken links so we can update them
This article originally appeared in Issue 41 of our Subscribers-paid Journal online magazine

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