Demolition scheduled for notorious Rosewood Manor: A review of its long and colorful history

1920s photo of Rosewood Manor. (Courtesy Brad Holden collection)

It has officially been confirmed that the 109-year-old Rosewood Manor – the old estate that sits on 220th Street Southwest, just west of Highway 99 – has a scheduled meeting with the wrecking ball next month. The property was sold to a developer last year, so while the news is not entirely shocking it will certainly be a sad historical loss for Edmonds.

The first house I ever purchased – a 1940s fixer-upper – sat two lots down from the manor. Soon after moving in, I began hearing bits of neighborhood lore about this historic property. Many of these stories were about its days as a speakeasy. There were also rumors that the upstairs was once used as a brothel. A Hollywood dog trainer supposedly once lived there with several reports that the famous German shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, was buried somewhere in the backyard. Another popular story held that the property was once used as a hunting lodge and that President Theodore Roosevelt stayed there for a memorable weekend full of guns, booze and small game.

1970s-era photo from when it was the Aurora Edmonds Nursing Home. (Courtesy of Snohomish County Assessor’s Office)

With such an array of sensational stories, I eventually began researching the property in an attempt to separate fact from fiction and hopefully uncover its true story. This research would last for the next 25 years, and with news now dropping about its imminent demise, I figured it was a good time to finally share its story and give it the proper sendoff that it deserves. In many ways, Rosewood Manor is a direct reflection of Edmonds itself, as several of the town’s historical layers can be seen in the history of this much-fabled mansion.

County records show that the property was first developed in 1909, when Seattle attorney and real estate magnate Robert J. Huston purchased a plot of Edmonds land known as Hadley’s Acres in what is now the unincorporated Esperance neighborhood. At the time, the surrounding area was very rural and mostly consisted of farmhouses that sat on large tracts of land that were divided from original homestead claims. Hadley’s Acres, which included nearby Chase Lake, was one such chunk of land. Huston promptly parceled Handley’s Acres into separate plats, with Lot 2 later being sold to a local builder named Celdon F. Martin.

Martin was a general contractor, president of the Seattle Construction Company and co-owner of the Sol Duc Hot Springs in the Olympic National Park. He had a strong affinity for various architectural styles, including Spanish, Mission Revival and Mediterranean, and was prone to melding them together when designing and building homes. As a newlywed, Martin wanted to build the house of his dreams for himself and his new wife, ad that led him to purchase this parcel of land in 1913.

Construction of the large estate took two full years, and when it was finally completed in 1915 the Martins held a lively house-warming party that was attended by over 100 prominent guests. Such a big social affair did not go unnoticed by the local press, with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporting that “Mr. and Mrs. C.F. Martin, formerly of Ballard, who have just completed a beautiful new home in Edmonds, entertained 50 couples of their old neighbors and friends at a house-warming Thursday evening. Music, dancing, and refreshments were enjoyed.”

For reasons that are unclear, the Martins only lived in their new home for a few years before selling it in 1919. At the time, the days of Prohibition were in full effect and the property’s next owners — a raucous married couple named Bob and Olga Farley — were about to catapult the town into a new era of decadence and debauchery.

White Horse Tavern headline from 1920 that appeared in The Seattle Star.

It was presumed that when the Farleys purchased the property in 1919, it would continue to be used as a residence. However, Bob Farley had a different set of plans in mind. This became evident several months later when locals began noticing that the driveway of the estate was always packed full of automobiles, and the sounds of laughter, clinking bottles and jazz music could be heard loudly emanating from inside. The large house soon became known as the White Horse Tavern. According to neighborhood lore, the name came from a lone white stallion that lived in a pasture behind the place.

For the next few years, the White Horse Tavern would be the site of countless police raids and the source of numerous newspaper headlines. During one memorable evening, a posse of sheriff deputies paid a surprise visit to the place and walked in on a ballroom full of people dancing to a live ragtime jazz orchestra, with a fully stocked bar and an active game of roulette in the back. As a result, Bob Farley was placed under arrest and hauled away to the county jail, though the tavern somehow managed to stay open. On another occasion, in 1920, Farley was again arrested after he pulled out a pistol and shot an unruly customer who had started to act belligerent toward others.

Ad for the Chase Lake Pavilion, which appeared in the Edmonds Tribune-Review in 1922.

In 1922, the Farleys sold the place, though it continued to serve as a roadhouse under a variety of names. Initially, it operated as the Chase Lake Pavilion and was known for its lively Saturday night dances.

In 1926 it was purchased by one-time Edmonds City Councilmember George Moore, who renamed it the Olympic Tavern. For the next several years, Moore proudly continued the manor’s tradition of booze, gambling and ladies of the night, though he would soon learn that there were consequences to attracting such a lawless crowd.

Olympic Tavern ad, from Edmonds Tribune-Review.
Photo and artist rendering of the 1927 robbery by bandits, appearing in The Seattle Daily Times.

On an early fall morning in 1927, Moore and a couple of employees had just closed the tavern for the evening and were walking out to their cars carrying the previous night’s earnings when they were suddenly ambushed and robbed by a group of bandits. During the melee, Moore sustained a gunshot wound to the back, and the bandits managed a successful getaway with all of the loot.

During this time, other roadside resorts had begun popping up nearby on the newly opened highway, including The Ranch, The Jungle Temple and The Bungalow Inn. All of these places offered ample amounts of drinking, dancing and gambling, which quickly attracted the attention of local law enforcement. On New Year’s Eve 1927, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department conducted a large-scale raid at several of these roadhouses, including the Olympic Tavern, resulting in over 100 arrests.

Up through the mid-1930s, the estate continued to operate as a popular dance hall until finally closing down for good and sitting vacant for a few years. Since that time, archeological debris from its time as a roadhouse has subsequently turned up in the soil of neighboring yards, including Prohibition-era booze bottles, antique dice and rusty parts from old perfume decanters.

In 1939, the property was purchased by a new owner who repurposed the manor into the Chase Lake Sanitarium. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the sanitarium primarily served as a maternity hospital, though I was never able to find any direct evidence to corroborate this. What is known is that the estate would serve as a hospital and health care facility for the next several decades.

Charles Segal Sanatorium ad in 1951, appearing in the Edmonds Tribune-Review.
Segal Santorium ad in 1953, appearing in the Edmonds Tribune-Review.

Its next iteration was the Segal Memorial Hospital, also known as the Charles Segal Memorial Sanitarium. The hospital held its grand opening in 1951 and announced that it was “now open to care for the chronically sick.” A decade later, in 1961, it became the Aurora Edmonds Nursing Home. It would continue to operate as a nursing care facility until the mid-1990s, at which point it briefly served as the headquarters for Counterpoint Mental Health Services.

By the time I moved into the neighborhood in 1997, Counterpoint was no longer there, with the property sitting empty and vacant. A few years later, a Christian fellowship group purchased Rosewood Manor and gave it some much-needed renovations, at which point it became known as the Church of the Beloved, serving as shared housing space for its college-aged members. They were excellent stewards of the property, taking great care to preserve the home’s historical character while also giving it some much-needed purpose. The backyard was turned into a beautiful garden space and the group hosted everything from weddings to neighborhood cook-outs. Sadly, as the core members of the Church of the Beloved all moved on to adulthood, the space was no longer needed and it was once again put up for sale in 2012.

Happier days of the manor when it was home to the Church of the Beloved, early 2000s. (Courtesy of Church of the Beloved)

A large family purchased Rosewood Manor in 2016 and lived there for the next few years until an accidental kitchen fire made the space uninhabitable, forcing the family to sell as the repair costs were too expensive. A developer quickly snatched the property up and now, two years later, it waits to be permanently erased from the local landscape. Word on the street is that a densely-packed row of townhomes will be going into the space — another example of suburban development winning over historic preservation.

Despite all my research, I was never able to determine when the name “Rosewood Manor” first came into use or who named it that. And as far as all the other tales surrounding the fabled estate, several of those appear to be nothing more than urban legend. For example, there is no record that it was ever a dog training facility, nor is there any evidence of Rin Tin Tin being buried there. Likewise, there is no evidence that it ever served as a hunting lodge or that President Roosevelt ever visited. Some of these discoveries were difficult to accept as my own romanticism of the infamous property wanted all of its rich mythology to be true.

In the end, the fate of Rosewood Manor was sadly inevitable: It is a crumbling old building that sits on a highly coveted lot of land. And sadly, because of its location, it was never eligible for Edmonds Historic Landmark consideration as the Esperance neighborhood is in unincorporated Snohomish County, therefore placing it just outside of City of Edmonds jurisdiction. Even more tragic is the fact that the middle of 220th Street serves as the line of demarcation between Esperance and Edmonds, thus the manor was ultimately the casualty of having an even-numbered street address.

As things currently stand, the legendary manor is slated for demolition sometime in January, though the exact date is unknown.

A 25-year Edmonds resident, Brad Holden is a columnist for Seattle Magazine, is a contributing writer for HistoryLink.org (an online encyclopedia of Washington state history) and his work has also appeared in the Seattle Times. Holden has been profiled on KIRO and KOMO news, Seattle Refined, NPR, KING 5 Evening! and various publications. Holden’s trilogy of books related to local Prohibition history — including his latest book, Lost Roadhouses of Seattle — are available online and at bookstores.

 

  1. This is undoubtedly a tragic loss for Edmonds. More townhouses and unaffordable housing will replace it. 220th will be a traffic nightmare in the near future. Time to leave Edmonds is approaching..

    1. Thank you so much for sharing all your research on this home. I have always been curious about its history. So sad that it will soon be replaced by densely packed townhomes. I wish there had been a way to preserve it.

      1. Coming and going from the Bowl via 220th to Top Foods now Winco. I always glance at this once beautiful building. Thank you for all this history. Never knew 220th was once a hwy. I agree more stupid multifamily box housing. More traffic. I’ll be going up to 99 the back way.

        1. The north trunk hyw is actually 84th ave. Which was the the rout of hyw 99 before 1927, when 99 was rebuilt in its current location.

        2. Our young CampFire girl’s group
          sang for the medical residents there during the holidays in the mid 1950’s.
          My parents built the lovely brick home on an acre near 84th & 228th, moving in December 1950! I left Edmonds in 1966, but still claim her as my own!

        3. It’s quite sad that building was never declared a historic home so it could be preserved. I guess no one with a heart – and the money – for repairs and maintenance has ever come along. Years ago, my imagination would run away with me as I walked or drove past this property, imagining how I’d love to be able to restore it and hoping someone eventually would. Let’s say a “good-by” to another small puzzle-piece which made up the picture of a past era.

      2. I used to work there back in 1977, when it was a Nursing Home. I’m really sad that this once beautiful home will be gone forever.

    2. As an elementary schoolgirl ..living off of 220th and 88th ave.w.
      from 1963 to adulthood,I attended nearby Esperance Elementary(aSchool from Kindergarten thru b 6th grade.
      I often walked down 220th street to the field and trails the locals created adjacent to the west of the Rosewood(known to Us as .Even then,as a Child ,I marveled at it beauty.
      A few years the Brownies and the Girlscouts made cookies and visited the residents that lived there (it was a home for the Aged then).We sang Christmas Carols as we walked and visited and sang to them.
      I remember a Man in the basement area playing a fiddle,I lagged behind the others and stood and listened to his beautiful tune,He had no idea I was even there.The Manor was still beautiful even then.

  2. Thanks for the history. We’ve lived in Edmonds for 45 years and countless times driven by the property. Sad to see it go.

  3. Well done Brad. It is unfortunate that some of the stories we hear about people and places within Edmonds’ history can not be substantiated. But as you know it is interesting and rewarding to go down even “rabbit holes” that prove to be unproductive. As a fellow historian I plan to take a few minutes to go by and see the old structure before the wrecking ball does its work. Thanks for the walk back through time….I enjoyed the read.

    1. Thanks Byron. I’m meeting Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard (the “Now and Then” column from the Seattle Times) there tomorrow as they are planning on doing a feature on it. You’re welcome to join us. Just shoot me an e-mail.

      1. I bought a ten dollar vintage wooden chair at a yard sale there a few years ago. I was thrilled to see that an outfit that called itself DONE RIGHT was on tap to renovate the building. Sadly, it seems that “they don’t know what they’ve got till it’s gone” and plan to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot ” (i.e. condos). Joni Mitchell – prophetess whose words fall on deaf ears.

      2. I am sadly tied up today on another story’s research….but take you up on a future offer if the opportunity exists.

      3. Thanks for sharing all your work, Brad. I had heard the story of Roosevelt staying there, perhaps to fish on Chase Lake, the eastern part of which was later displaced by peat mining. Also heard Rosewood was first to have telephone service in the area. I learned of all this while designing the park and constructed wetland that recreated the eastern lobe of the lake.

        1. It would be great to include the current street address so people with mobility issues can look up the property on Google Maps and see current photos. Even better, include current photos in an article like this. THANKS!

  4. I have lived in Edmonds for over 50 years and never knew the backstories of this building. This was very interesting. Thank you.

  5. This is fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing your findings on the history of Rosewood Manor. I moved nearby only 2 years ago, but read about this building and out of curiosity, viewed it from the street and the back from Chase Lake. Can you tell me why the businesses that sold liquor there during Prohibition are not referred to as speakeasies?

    1. That is a good question, Susan. Some people did refer to Rosewood Manor as a speakeasy during Prohibition. But for the most part, the word “speakeasy” was mostly used to describe illegal drinking establishments that were located in urban areas. At the time Edmonds was very rural and the term that was generally used for such rustic designations was “roadhouse.” Starting in the mid-1920s, Edmonds had an abundance of roadhouses.

      1. Thanks for the response. As a former New Yorker, I had always heard the term “speakeasy” and looked for where they were in that city. I never knew the term was different for rural areas!

        1. Thank you for this fantastic write up! I attended a party at the house in 2017 and have since been very curious to learn more about the house and its history. It’s such a shame the building is bound for demolition instead of adaptive reuse. A savvier developer would make it the centerpiece of a new development, instead of totally erasing a fascinating piece of local history.

  6. Fantastic work, Brad, thank you for this! What a great way to remember and honor the old place, by determining its true history! Sad that there was no way to preserve it, but change is the only constant. (That developer is going to make an absolute fortune, for sure!) I’m hoping we get some nice folks moving in, that will enrich our neighborhood and become great new friends! Farewell, Rosewood Manor!

  7. Great research and writing, Brad. Over the years I’ve heard some of the tales, especially the TR legend, but never the original Rin Tin Tin resting place “history.” Not surprising that its time has come.

  8. Such a beautiful old place. It really needed a lot of work to bring it up to code. Thus the recent fire due to faulty wiring. I thought the fire was in an upstairs bathroom and not the kitchen but whatever, nonetheless, it was a fire that eventually destroyed it because then all the old wiring, plumbing was exposed and materials (roofing, plaster etc.) couldn’t be acquired to match what was there so the cost was horrific and insurance funds weren’t enough to cover. Sad to see it go but please preserve what you can through documentation and pictures. Thanks for the article. I’ve lived in the area since 1982.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful article. I served on the Edmonds Historic Preservation Commission and have been fascinated by old homes in our city. I wish that this home could be preserved and repurposed. Maybe we can get it listed on Washington State’s Top 10 Endangered Historic Properties (although sadly I fear it is too late for this.) I did this many years ago for the home at the corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue–and luckily it still stands. I would love to see the inside when you are visiting tomorrow. I am a columnist for MyEdmondsNews too!

  10. So sad that it could not be named a Historical Edmonds Home. One more reason for Esperance to be annexed by Edmonds.

  11. In 1982 I bought a house built in 1947 east of Chase lake on 82nd place west. The neighborhood had fruit and nut trees scatted through it that were much more mature than anything that could have been planted in the late 40’s. A long-time neighbor next door speculated that our area was perhaps an orchard for the manor. Who knows! Most of the trees were removed when the SFR’s were replaced by townhomes. A few of the old 40’s cracker box homes still remain.

  12. Fascinating information. Thanks. As everyone bemoans its’ loss and agrees it is now ” too late” to take actuon to save it, let’s use this as a lesson to be more aware of what remains around us and be more proactuve in ensuring otber sites are not lost due to neglect.

  13. Fascinating historical piece, Brad with great pictures. This would have made a great site for a McMenamins as they do fabulous remodels. With our poor code and design standards, I’m sure it will be functional but not architecturally attractive.

    Keep up the good work, Brad! Everyone loves history.

  14. Demolishing this property is the wrong way to go. We have so few properties like this in the pacific northwest. Even the city of Vancouver bc managed to save the Manhattan apartments located right in downtown in the seventies.

    Come on people. It is time to save our past for the future. Let’s get organized.

  15. The property is part of unincorporated Snohomish County in the area called Esperance. It is not subject to Edmonds building codes or taxes. Something odd about the posted county land value on this and other land nearby. This property is .86 acre valued at around $800k/acre and a nearby property that is .21 acre is valued at around $2.4m/acre.

    1. Darrol – I believe that is because the back part of the manor’s acre sits on wetlands, which therefore decreases its value as nothing can be built on that part of the land. This is why there is a whole big undeveloped field behind the church (which sits next to Rosewood Manor) – it’s all wetlands.

    2. Good points, Darrol. Esperance is an unincorporated island surrounded by the City of Edmonds. Very odd when you look at the city map and see this hole in the middle.

      At some point, it will inevitably be incorporated into Edmonds, perhaps sooner rather than later when properly owners realize they can save +/-$1000 a year on property taxes by becoming part of Edmonds.

  16. We have to stop doing this! We have to wake up! We don’t need anymore people in the area. Replacing one residence with several just doesn’t work. Too much traffic, too many people!

  17. Thank you for all this research, Brad. I volunteered at the Aurora Edmonds Nursing Home in 1971 as part of a high school project. As a lifelong Edmonds resident, I am sad to see the old girl go. Unfortunately, with such a variety of owners and uses since then, I’m certain the beautiful home with all its handcrafted wood finishings have been abused beyond repair and demolition is the only recourse. A house needs a loving family to keep it alive and beautiful. Unfortunately, this building has lost its luster.

  18. Great article! It thrills me to see so many comments, and saddens me that ‘progress’ is going to destroy another piece of history. I live within walking distance, and frequently walk the dogs in the large field behind…say goodbye to that, too. Where will it end?? Sometimes it’s perfectly good houses that get torn down to build a bunch of cookie cutter houses that all look right into their neighbors windows. I’m sure the developer sees nothing but dollar signs.

  19. The stories of what took place in the building are more exciting than the blended architectural styles of the building in my opinion. A great piece of history nonetheless. Great write-up.

    Hopefully this story and maybe something that can be salvaged from the demo will make the history live on.

    1. Also along 220th, 2 cute cottage like homes on 4 acres has sold between 80th and 76th on the Northside. Development coming soon there too.

  20. There is an old home on the SW corner of 85th Place West and 216th that I was told was a former roadhouse as well (I used to live across the street). It is in the Edmonds City limits and could still be registered and saved if it hasn’t already. In the 70s the property surrounding it was subdivided and developed as single-family homes. The land previously had fruit and hazelnut orchards surrounded by rock fences, some of which remain.

    1. My wife and I owned the house I think you are referring to. We moved in in Dec 1987 and moved out in June 2017. The 100th year of that house’s existence. 8526 216th St SW. Known as the Anderson house by the neighbors. It used to have apple orchards all around it I’m told. Plus at one time they raised rabbits (for food) I hear. We have a couple tax record photos from the 1970’s when the land behind it was subdivided. I loved walking around the neighborhood and passed the Rosewood Manor many times in the 30 years we lived in the area.

  21. Great research and writing, Brad! It will be interesting to see what treasures the bulldozers uncover buried in the backyard.

  22. We bought the house directly across the street from the then nursing home facility in ’77, lived there until we moved across town in ’89. It was, of course a pretty quiet neighbor in those years, though I was aware of its history and found it fascinating. The place has looked like a fire disaster waiting to happen in recent years and I worried about the safety of its elderly residents. Quite a piece of local history.

  23. We moved to Edmonds in 1951 – to a farm on 98th Ave west – love at first sight. Mrs Hockwald lived down the street – she hunted with Roosevelt when he came to the lodge.

    Most all the old houses on 98th have been saved and restored.

    I hope this lodge can be spared – it is our colorful
    history and needs to be saved!

    1. Hello Carolynne,

      I too am a long time Edmonds resident. My Dad went to Edmonds High School back in the late 40’s and he always said that Roosevelt stay there when it was a hunting lodge. It seems that someone would have taken a picture of something like that. I agree it is such a shame to loose such a beautiful old historic building. We need to appreciate the past and preserve it!

      Gwen Winters

  24. Thanks Brad, excellent article. I’ll bet there will be some treasures unearthed during the demo. I hope they are perserved.

  25. What’s incredibly sad about this is that it’s all about money. My friend and I are detectorists and we contacted the developers to see if they would let us on the property before it’s torn down so we could recover and save some of it’s important history. We wanted to donate any finds to the Edmonds Museum but the developers said no. They don’t care about it’s history or the loss to the community, just how much money they’ll make squeezing a bunch of townhouses on the property. It’s a shame developers don’t care more about the communities they work in. If anyone out there has an historic property and would like to have it’s history recovered, please contact us!

    1. I’ve heard that some people have used their detectors on the property during the evenings, after everyone has gone home. I’ve also heard it said that this next following week, before the bulldozers arrive, would be an ideal time for one to test out their metal detector on the property. I want to make clear that I am not advocating for anyone to do this and possibly find some cool, historical items. I’m merely repeating what I’ve heard.

      1. Even though my friend and I are passionate about saving history, as detectorists we have a strict code of ethics we follow. The first rule we follow is that we need permission from the landowner. I drove by Rosewood Manor before we contacted the developers and was really surprised there weren’t any “no trespassing” signs and the driveway was wide open. For one second I thought, “hmm, it’s doesn’t say no trespassing so why not?” but we take our code of ethics too seriously and would never trespass. All the developers said in their email was that they were not letting anyone on the property. I literally feel sick to my stomach thinking about all the history that will be lost but we have to respect their decision. Hopefully in the future we have better luck with developers who have purchased historic property!

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