This Month in Edmonds History: A sneak-peek of the Edmonds Museum Building Renovation Project

Before-and-after look at non-original walls coming down on the museum’s upper level.

My Edmonds News is proud to present a monthly look at Edmonds history, straight from the archives of the Edmonds Historical Museum. For the month of March, we’ll revisit 1910.

This month’s look at Edmonds history is from the front lines of a renovation project for one of Edmonds’ most significant buildings. The Edmonds Historical Museum, located in the city’s original Carnegie Library building, is returning to its original 1910 open layout upstairs. While few interior photographs have been found, staff members have located the building’s original building specifications from the time of construction. The document provided the original contractor with all necessary information for labor and material of the building—including brickwork, roofing, lathe and plaster, painting and finishing—and it is being used as reference during the current renovation project. Local contractor LA Enterprises is leading the remodeling efforts.

Outline of staircase uncovered during renovation.
Outline of staircase uncovered during renovation.

The building still retains many original elements, such as burlap wainscoting, central skylight and a Tiffany glass entry sign, but the open layout was altered in the 1970s and 1990s to accommodate office use. Renovation plans include removing non-original walls, as well as installing an updated kitchen and lower level bathroom. The upper level will also include an expanded research library that will be open to the public during museum hours.

The building first opened to the public in 1911 and was used for the library and city offices through 1962. The museum has been occupying the space since 1973. It was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places in that year.

Close-up of original fir trim surrounding in upstairs entry.
Close-up of original fir trim surrounding in upstairs entry.

Renovation work began this year on Feb. 10, and workers have already removed the non-original walls, exposing what was presumably the original, symmetrical layout. Carnegie Libraries are known for their symmetry, with reading rooms often flanking a main corridor. The trim around the upstairs main doorway has also been stripped of many layers of paint to reveal the original finish that is mentioned in the 1910 specifications. The document called for all interior woodwork to be coated with Pratt & Lambert’s Spar Finishing Varnish. This product still exists and will be used on the recently restored woodwork.

One of the most interesting finds of the projects so far was uncovering an outline of the original staircase behind the walls in the lower- level bathroom; the stairs led up to the southeast corner room of the building (currently the museum’s kitchen). The building currently has an elevator for access between floors and no sign of a staircase had previously been found.

The museum will reopen to the public Saturday, May 3.

“It is positively understood that all materials and workmanship mentioed [sic] in these specifications, are to be first quality in every respect.” –Building specifications for Public Library Building, Edmonds, Washington, 1910

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