Past and present meet at Mike Cooper’s historic Edmonds home

Edmond Mayor Mike Cooper and his wife Chrystal, left, pose with Marilyn Jenkins Johnston, Carole Jenkins Lowell and Tom Jenkins in front of the historic Palmer House fireplace.

It was a family reunion of sorts at the house of Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper Wednesday morning. Officially, Cooper and his wife Chrystal were commemorating the addition of their Maple Street home — known as the Palmer House — to the Edmonds Register of Historic Places. Unofficially, the event provided an opportunity for three members of the Jenkins family — Carole Jenkins Lowell, Marilyn Jenkins Johnston, and Tom Jenkins — to return to the place where they grew up, with many fond childhood memories.

See a photo gallery with historic photos, plus some from Wednesday’s reunion, here.

The Jenkins siblings noted that they had not been inside the home since the family moved away in 1965, although Carole still lives in Edmonds, just a few blocks away.  (The oldest brother, Phil, passed away a few years ago.) They stood outside for a few minutes reminiscing, and after being welcomed inside by the Coopers lingered in the kitchen of the Queen Anne-style home, originally constructed in 1895 for local dentist Dr. W.C. Palmer.

“Our mother always told us that this house would be a historic site one day,” Carole said, and the three children recalled being instructed not to touch a chalk inscription in the home’s attic — “The Old Man’s digging in the Ditch, 1895, WMV” in case the home eventually was recognized as historic.

Mayor Cooper receives the historical designation plaque from Larry Vogel, chair of the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission.

With the help of Chermak Construction, Inc. (a My Edmonds News sponsor), the Coopers remodeled the historic home’s interior two years ago, but Chrystal had found some old-style appliances that contributed to the look and feel of the original kitchen. The Jenkins family looked through a photo album that Chermak had provided to document the construction process, and posed for photos in front of the fireplace and at the bottom of the staircase in the home’s entryway, recalling the many high school prom photos taken in days gone by.

According to the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission’s November 2010 newsletter, The Preservationist, Dr. Palmer lived in the house until 1914, at which time the house was rented for a short time to Matt Engels. Interestingly, Engels was the first of two mayors to live in the Palmer House — and the first of two fire chiefs — as he was elected mayor in 1922 and served for two years, then in 1929 became Edmonds FireChief.

In late 1919 or early 1920, the house was purchased by James and Nell Telfer. “Mr. Telfer was something of a local character, with a thick Scottish brogue,” The Preservationist notes. “He worked as a tailor at Frederick and Nelson, was a Mason, and his picture still hangs in the Edmonds Masonic Temple.” Nell Telfer, meanwhile, worked for the Edmonds School District.

In 1950, the Telfers sold the home to the Jenkins family for $11,000. From The Preservationist:

“When the house was built in 1895, Maple St. didn’t reach it and the house was connected to Dayton via a boardwalk. Even in 1950 Maple Street was a dirt road and not connected to Dayton via Eighth Avenue as today. The Jenkins children forged a trail through the forested hill between Maple and Dayton as a short cut to the Edmonds Grade School (now the Frances Anderson Center) to save walking down to Seventh.

On the east side of the house was a natural spring and pond that became a beloved summer playground for the Jenkins children. But winter didn’t mean an end to play. The house had a huge attic, reached by a flight of stairs from the brothers’ bedroom closet. The girls remember their brothers creating haunted houses in the attic with bed sheets, and running a string from the attic window down into the yard to ‘fly’ their model airplanes.”

The Palmer House today.

The Jenkins family subdivided the lot before selling the home to Mike Cooper’s parents, Jack and Betty, in late 1965. Jack Cooper served as Edmonds’ Fire Chief from 1965-1979. Mike Cooper is a former Edmonds and Shoreline firefighter who served in the Washington State Legislature and on the Snohomish County Council before being appointed mayor by the Edmonds City Council last summer after the resignation of then-Mayor Gary Haakenson.

“Being in public service to Edmonds while living in one of its best known historic homes is a great honor,” Mike Cooper
said. “Being part of Edmonds’ rich history makes me doubly proud.”

  1. I also have fond memories in this home. When Uncle Jack and Aunt Betty were raising their family there me and my family spent many holidays and other special days in this grand old home. I cannot think of a more fitting steward than Mike and his lovely wife Chrystal.

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