5 Historical Locations to See in Monroe
Monroe, Washington, has a history that stretches back to the 19th century. Monroe has been home to a variety of industries, including logging and agriculture, and its roots can be seen in many different areas of town. Read on to learn about the area’s history and the places you should visit while you’re in town to really get a feel for Monroe’s historic past!
The Site of the Great Monroe Fire
In 1901, Monroe was devastated by a sweeping fire that took out the city’s only complete block of businesses, which is why many of the buildings you see today aren’t originals from the city’s 19th-century roots. After the fire, in 1903, Monroe finally got a fire department, which has helped prevent tragedies.
However, the fire wasn’t the only catastrophic incident in Monroe’s history. An earthquake in 1965 managed to damage even more historic buildings, including the Monroe Union High School, which was built in 1909.
Old City Hall
Now the home of the Monroe Historical Society, the Old City Hall was built in 1908, shortly after Monroe became incorporated in 1902 as the home of approximately 300 citizens. A new city hall was built on West Main Street, and so the Old City Hall passed into the ownership of the Monroe Historic Society, who run their museum out of it. This museum offers fascinating photos of Monroe and the original buildings that used to stand. They also have artifacts from the early days of the city.
The Old City Hall was built about the same time that Monroe was chosen as the location for a state reformatory. This prison system is a large part of Monroe’s local economy even to this day. The original administration building still stands and is a gorgeous example of period architecture.
Carnation Milk arrived in Monroe in 1908 and was a huge job provider for the area. This processing plant was a testament to the engineering and architecture of the area. The factory shipped up to 26 train cars full of product monthly, and the factory was a huge asset to the community. Milk and dairy products were processed there until 1928.
During WWII, flax became a major crop in the area, thanks to the government declaring it a strategic material, and so the Carnation factory was transformed into a storage facility. Unfortunately, in 1944, a large amount of flax spontaneously combusted. The fire consumed the factory and the 600 pounds of flax stored there, leaving behind only the concrete smokehouse, which is located in the eastern part of town.
Standing on the corner of Blakely and West Main street, Stephens Hospital was first built in 1903. It was built by by Dr. L L Stephens to replace the failing Monroe General Hospital. This three-story building was designed to have different apartments for men and women and was one of the most popular and successful hospitals in the area. It has since been converted into apartments, but the historic edifice remains.
Monroe has a fascinating history, and this small town has managed to preserve several of its historic buildings despite natural catastrophes.
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