The history of Mukilteo Historical Society l Muk Revisited
Last updated 12/5/2018 at Noon
A small group of dedicated Mukilteo residents drew up Bylaws for the new Mukilteo Historical Society (MHS) in 1965 as a step towards incorporation in 1966.
In 1967, letters were written to Senators Warren G. Magnuson and Henry M. (Scoop) Jackson requesting a site for a museum on the lighthouse property, which was then owned by the United States Coast Guard. Both replied that they would look into it.
During those early years, there were not many minutes of meetings held in private homes. Opal McConnell, the author of “Mukilteo Pictures and Memories” was secretary in the ’70s, joining the organization after her kids were grown and left home. She got up at 4 a.m. with her husband and wrote her book while her husband went to work at the Boathouse, their boat rental business. They lived in a storage loft above the Boathouse as newlyweds.
Prior to 1977, the city of Mukilteo established a Historical Commission with the purpose of collecting and recording historical facts and photos. The city purchased a fireproof file cabinet to safely store these records (which is still on the property today).
The charge for the Commission lines up with the current MHS mission statement, which reads: “Locate, acquire, restore, preserve and exhibit any and all articles, documents, photographs, papers, artifacts and other items of historic, cultural, educational, or scientific value which pertain to the City of Mukilteo and its environs.”
MHS still collaborates with the city of Mukilteo to carry out this purpose.
In 1977, Opal’s book was printed. Two years later, a museum space was created in Room 201 of the Rosehill School. Bev Ellis was president for five years during this time.
In 1991, the city of Mukilteo leased the lighthouse from the Coast Guard. The following year, Mim Loree became president. Lighthouse tours provided by MHS started on May 14, 1992. The beginning gift shop started out as a small display cabinet/counter inside the lighthouse.
In 1992, the museum was moved from Rosehill School to a portable. In 1997, the gift shop moved to the garage and a fundraiser for purchasing floor tiles in the lighthouse and Interpretive Center was launched.
These tiles are a popular attraction now as people try to find the tiles their family purchased or inquire about buying a new tile. The tiles sold out in 1997 so this is not an option.
In 1999, under President Chris Wilson, MHS headquarters moved to the light station. Volunteers started maintaining the gardens. Funds were raised to restore 17 headstones at Pioneer Cemetery.
In 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard gifted the lighthouse to the city of Mukilteo. MHS currently has a facility use agreement with the city to staff the lighthouse and plan events.
Over the years, MHS administered and maintained the gift shop and archives, created themed parade floats, supported the Lighthouse Festival on many different levels, developed historical exhibits and grew their membership. Staffing the lighthouse expanded to provide special tours and support weddings.
The League of Snohomish County Historical Organizations (LOSCHO) honored MHS with their Malstrom award (named for local historian Helmer Malstrom) several times for projects in support of local history, including this year for the mapping of Pioneer Cemetery and the accompanying book authored by Margaret Summitt. Work was performed to get the lighthouse added to the State and National Historical Registers.
The Archive Team catalogues the collection of over 3,000 photographs of historic places, people, and events. This year alone, data on 569 photographs was entered into a searchable museum-quality database program called PastPerfect. This work is slow and labor intensive and will continue in 2019 and beyond. Portions of the resulting database were uploaded to an on-line website, allowing public access to over 2,400 photos. These photos can be viewed and ordered at: https://mukilteohistorical.pastperfectonline.com/
The current activities and accomplishments of MHS are only possible because of the foundation built for the organization many years ago by its leadership and that of the city of Mukilteo. The gifts of their talents, skills and idea continue to benefit the Mukilteo community.
Many of the challenges of the early years still exist today. Membership and turnover are still challenges. Numerous strong women kept the organization moving forward. Volunteers still maintain the gardens and paint the fence when needed. Friends were made and traditions were carried down through the years. This rich legacy will continue to grow.
The 2019 MHS Board has been elected to continue to support the community and the city of Mukilteo: Joanne Mulloy, President; Sally Morrison, Vice President; Al Friedrich, Treasurer; Margaret Summitt, Secretary. Directors include: Peter Anderson, Craig Fisher, Eric Richstad, Sharon Sutherland, and Mark Sutherland.
If you would like to become a member of MHS, here is a link to an application, including volunteer opportunities: https://mukilteohistorical.org/support-shop/membership.
#The Mukilteo Historical Society staffs the Mukilteo Lighthouse and Gift Shop and is always looking for new members. They meet on the second Thursday of each month (except December) at 7 p.m. at the Rosehill Community Center (304 Lincoln Avenue). For more information, visit mukilteohistorical.org.#