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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.