The votes have been tallied and the verdict is in!
The new design planned for the 150-foot Carnation steam-stack located in downtown Monroe will feature an elongated view of Mt. Index, with evergreen trees and the Skykomish River spiraling down the side. The word “Monroe” will be painted at the top and there will be historical photos, site information and other documentation incorporated near the bottom.
A total of 1752 people participated in the voting process over the past month. The winning Sky Valley-themed motif received over 1000 votes. There were a total of four choices for voters to select from.
Each of design concepts were transformed into actual images by artist Esther McLatchy, who also created the tulip-themed design which adorns the smokestack in Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon’s smokestack is also relic from an early 1900s Carnation milk condensory plant.
The art will be painted on Monroe’s century-old, concrete steam-stack by Jose Cardona, owner of the Mt. Vernon-based business Cardona & Sons Painting. Cardona has painted Mount Vernon’s smokestack, which is about 30 feet shorter than Monroe’s, a total of three times.
The concrete structure, called “the smokestack” for decades by locals, actually emitted steam during the milk condensation process.
Monroe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Una Wirkebau-Hartt began to take at closer look at the idea of painting the smokestack shortly after she was hired in April. She discussed her proposal with Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas and presented before Monroe City Council in early June.
She followed up with council twice in July to let them know how the project was going and to keep them apprised of any challenges. Surprisingly to Wirkebau-Hartt, locating a lift that could accommodate the smokestack’s 150-foot height turned out to be a rather tall order.
“We need a structure that can boost an individual 150 feet into the air; that isn’t the norm. There are structures that go 135 feet in the air, and things that go 185 feet into the air, but nothing in between,” said Wirkebau-Hartt.
“The 185-foot structure is a new entity,” continued Wirkebau-Hartt. “There is one in the state, and it happens to be in Everett.”
The smokestack, which is situated near the intersection of U.S. 2 and Main Street in the Grocery Outlet parking lot, will need to be pressure-washed before the painting can take place. After the painting is complete, a ribbon-cutting celebration will take place to commemorate the occasion.
“That will be happening, more likely than not, towards the end of September,” said Wirkebau-Hartt. “We don’t plan on it taking longer than a week to actually paint.”
The lift which will carry Cardona to the top of the smokestack has been reserved for September 8. Weather permitting, the cleaning and painting will take place shortly thereafter.
For more information on the smokestack’s history, please visit: http://www.monroehistoricalsociety.org/stories/the-condensery-smokestack/.