If you look up Monroe, WA on Wikipedia, you will see a photograph of the Carnation Condensery Smokestack, the Old City Hall, which is now the historical society, and the iconic Wolfe House.

Built in 1903 by Daniel and Matilda Wolfe, this beautifully preserved home was owned by the Wolfe family for nearly 100 years. After experiencing some hard times, it was renovated by Justin Forsberg who maintained much of the original elements, as well as its charm and character. Paul and Meagan Hallmark purchased the Wolfe House in 2014. They are delighted to call it home and are committed to replacing the old pillar and posts that support the house with a solid foundation, thus preserving the home for another 100 years.

This week’s Stars focuses on the many dedicated folks in Monroe who are investing countless hours, personal funds and commitment to the preservation of Monroe’s fine old structures.

The Wolfe House, along with five other vintage homes and two historic churches, was open to the public last Saturday for The Monroe Historical Society Historic Homes Tour. The event was a huge success.

Visitors were impressed by the number and beauty of the homes in the area, and were heard to say, “I have a whole new appreciation for Monroe,” and, “We had to come from Bellevue because all the old homes there have been torn down to make way for new development.” More than 180 people braved the inclement weather to stroll around Monroe and appreciate the rich heritage of the town. 

Monroe’s first pioneer, Henry McClurg, moved up the river from Everett in 1864 and settled Park Place on the north bank of the Skykomish River, a mile west of today’s downtown Monroe. When the Great Northern Railroad was established on the other side of the river, the town was moved to its present location and renamed Monroe after the fifth president of the United States.

The small community experienced rapid growth in the early 1900s, due to its rich farmlands, access to river transportation and proximity to the railroad. A number of stately homes were built using the abundant timber that grew in the area.

In addition to the Wolfe house, the Clark House on South Lewis Street was featured on the tour. Whit and Maud Clark built this barn-style house in 1923. It changed hands several times, until Phillip Lidstrom and Jill Brumbaugh purchased it in 2011.  The couple is lovingly returning it to its original condition.

The next vintage stop is the Streissguth Home on South Blakeley Strett, built in 1925. The Whisnants purchased this classic craftsman-style house in 1972, and have rehabilitated and updated it.

Another noteworthy home on South Blakeley Street is the 1910 Twin Home, called this because it shares the same design as the house next door. It was purchased in 2004 by Andrew Martin, after it had been renovated by the previous owners. Though the inside has been updated, it retains its original early century exterior and charming porch. 

The Healy House on West Hill Street is a Monroe landmark. It was built in 1909 by Bartholomew and Minerva Healy. Some of the trees and plantings in the yard are original to the house. Bart and Minerva’s daughter, also named Minerva, lived there from the time she was 6 until her death in 1997.

Jayne Kingsley Morse bought the vacant house in 2012, breathing new restorative life into the home. “The house was in deplorable condition then,” Morse said. Current owner, Marlene Peay Gregson, purchased the home last December, saving it from demolition. She is in the process of restoring it to its former glory.

In 1909, John and Elzada built the Tyree House on South Lewis Street. After several changes of ownership, it went into receivership in 2005 and was purchased by brothers Justin and Jesse Forsberg. The home was in such poor condition, they chose to completely renovate, including expanding the front porch to wrap around the house.  Jesse and Shelly Forsberg live there today with their two daughters.

The two churches on the tour were the United Methodist and Monroe Congregational. Maintenance and repair of both are done by their devoted congregations.

Thanks to the vision and hard work of Monroe Historical Society president Tami Kinney and Downtown Monroe Association Board member Teresa Willard, the society board and the many volunteers, the 2016 vintage home tour was outstanding. The tour increased public awareness of the rich heritage of Monroe and applauded those hardy souls committed to preserving the best of the past.

The board hopes to create a fund that will allow the historical society to award homeowners with a plaque stating the name of their house and when it was built, as is done in other historic towns.

The historical society is supported by contributions, membership dues, donations through Fred Meyer’s community rewards program and events like the vintage home tour.

The historical society and museum are located at 207 E. Main St., and can be contacted at 360-217-7223.