A look back at Mukilteo’s historic Bay View Hotel

By Margaret Summitt | Jul 03, 2013
Courtesy of: Mukilteo Historical Society Frances Sinclair Record, Elsie Foster, Kate Foster Le Beau and Mary Foster, inside Bay View, circa 1913.

This article was first published in the Sounder research quarterly of the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society, vol. 24 Issue 3 (Fall 2010).  Corrections were made by Ann Collier. -Ed.

The old Bay View Hotel was one of Mukilteo’s first hotels and one of its earliest businesses. It is a landmark in the earliest available photos of the waterfront, next to the store/saloon/hotel operated by founders Jacob Fowler and Morris Frost.

The Bay View, which contained a grocery store and a second-floor restaurant, was an essential gathering place from its arrival in the early 1860s through the early 1900s.

The modern visitor to the site will be denied access to the original hotel site, for the north end of present day Front Street is blocked by a gate at the boundary of U.S. government property. The old hotel once stood just within what is now the gate entrance, on the northeast corner of Front Street and Park Avenue.

The main part of the hotel was moved from its original site by raft to the nearby shore, and then was lifted by block and tackle for the remainder of the distance.

Originally, the building was part of a town called New York, which had been located, according to an old newspaper article, “at the head of the largest bay between Everett and Mukilteo, about a half mile northeast of Pendleton’s landing, at what is most generally known as Bartlett’s log landing.”

Even in 1903, this New York of Puget Sound had “fallen unto decay,” and its very location was unknown to all except a few of the old timers.

Regarding the location of “New York,” HistoryLink tells us that the plat of “Western New York,” a development that never materialized, was filed in 1872 by Jacob Livingston (1837-1916) and David Livingston (1830-1913) below present day Harborview Park; it was the site of Snohomish County’s first steam-powered sawmill in 1863.

In the 1860s, the Bay View Hotel was a very busy place. “Mukilteo with its deep harbor was an early port for ships passing up and down the Sound. It was also a great junction point as settlers reaching Mukilteo by skiff or canoe could then take steamers either up the river or to ports along the Sound.

“This was an important source of revenue for the hotel. It was also a fuel station and the point at which much freight was transferred. The hotel flourished and was a favorite resort of the loggers during seasons of enforced idleness.”

The U. S. Census for 1870 does not give a clue as to which of Fowler and Frost’s neighbors was keeping the hotel at that time. Jacob Fowler’s occupation is listed as “hotel keeper” in the 1880 Census; and I think it likely that the hotel was the Bay View.

A few years later, Walter Keyes and his wife Mary bought the Bay View and the adjacent property, with plans to develop it into a resort community.

Keyes dedicated the facility in May 1887 with picnics and music by a National Guard band and he publicized extensively the hotel’s attractions, including a dance pavilion, croquet court, and outfitting for sailing, fishing and hunting. He encouraged excursions by steamer from Tacoma, Seattle, Snohomish, and other towns.

Walter Keyes was born in Pennsylvania in about 1839. His occupation is listed as hotelkeeper in the 1887 Washington Territorial Census.

His wife Mary F., also a Pennsylvania native, was then age 34 and was a cook in the hotel. William S. Keyes, age 23, a native of Ohio, was a clerk; and Thomas Keyes, age 52, a native of New York, is listed under the occupation “lum,” probably an abbreviation for lumberman.

Keyes gave up ownership of the property within two years to Louise Van Horne Thomas. Initially, Thomas leased the land; a year later, in 1888, she purchased it from Keyes and his wife.

Birdene Entenmann (née Warner), a regular at the genealogy workshop that I moderate at the Lynnwood Senior Center, showed me a photocopy of a page from a book that she found at the Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo, regarding her ancestor, Louise Van Horne Thomas.

Under an old photo (dating from about 1878) of the Bay View Hotel, the text reads: “The Bay View Hotel was one of the first hotels in the area. In 1888 it was leased and remodeled by Mrs. A. Thomas to be run as a summer resort with dance pavilion, croquet grounds, swings, sailing boats and fishing attractions.

“Rates were $2.00 per day. Special rates by week or month. Under the management of Mrs. Thomas the resort prospered and she became one of the leading spirits of the town.”

It would seem that Walter Keyes developed the resort facilities in 1887 – hence his extensive publicity campaign – and that Louise Thomas took them over and remodeled them.

Louise Van Horne Thomas was Birdie Entenmann’s great-grandmother. Thomas chose to live in Mukilteo, Entenmann told me, because in her opinion “Seattle would never amount to anything.”

Thomas has eluded the answers to several important questions about her – like many of the early settlers of the area, she seems to have stayed a short time, and then moved on.

She was born in Sweden in 1856, according to the 1900 census. Nothing is known about her husband or husbands, except that she may have married a doctor; this is assumed because her daughter Louise was reportedly always proud of the fact that both her parents were doctors.

The daughter Louise, also known as Lulu, was apparently born in New York in about 1883 and was living with her mother when they were enumerated in the Washington Territorial Census in 1889, at which time her mother was managing the Bay View.

Then, leaving Lulu behind in Port Townsend, Thomas headed for Minneapolis, where the 1900 U.S. census reports she was practicing osteopathic medicine under the name Louise Van Horne.

She came back to Washington, however; in 1909 she was granted a license by the state to practice medicine, and in the 1910 census she is listed in the city of Spokane as a physician.

On Feb. 4, 1916, Thomas was found dead in a room at the Victoria Hotel in Spokane from an overdose of morphine; her death was ruled a suicide. Her life and death in Spokane was news to her descendant Entenmann, who had once lived in that city.

While Louise was managing the Bay View, the hotel was at the height of its glory, and she had every reason to think that its glory would continue. With an eye to the future, Louise expected, like many Mukilteans, the imminent arrival of the railroad.

She had her property platted as Thomas’s Addition on Nov. 5, 1889, 21.74 acres, a portion of Section 4, Township 28N, Range 04E.

Thomas’s Addition consisted of 17 blocks, extending along the waterfront and also south from Front Street to just beyond Sixth Street on either side of Park Avenue. These lots, except for a few along the waterfront, were 50 feet wide by 110 feet long.

On that same day, Nov. 5, Mukilteo pioneer Samuel S. Hassard had 12.19 acres platted; together, Thomas’s and Hassard’s additions were the second and third additions to Mukilteo.

Louise Van Horne Thomas quickly sold all of Block 1 in December 1889 to D. Barton Shepard and his wife Ella, from Butte, Mont. Polk’s 1893 Everett and Snohomish County Directory lists D. N. Sinclair as proprietor of the Bay View Hotel.

This entry led me to speculate whether this D. N. Sinclair is the same person as Daniel Sinclair, husband of Mukilteo postmistress Louisa Fowler Sinclair, Jacob Fowler’s daughter.

Laborers, carpenters and Great Northern railway workers were some of the hotel’s residents; according to the city directory, it was the only hotel in town.

It appears that the Shepards then resold the lots, or mortgaged them, to various individuals, most of whom also lived in Butte, Mont.

Starting in 1893, however, the property began to accrue back taxes. Ella Shepard, mortgaging her property (Lots 6, 7, and 8 in Thomas’s Addition) as security, issued a warranty deed dated 1 November 1894.

Several other parties engaged in what amounted to an unauthorized sale of the property in 1903. When Ella Shepard in 1904 took the defendants to Superior Court, Judge Denney ruled against her, saying that there had been no mortgage.

Upon appeal to the Washington Supreme Court, however, the decision was reversed, and she was able to recover the money owing to her.

Lewis (or Louis) Foster and his wife Mary ran the Bay View in the early 1900s (Mary Foster was proprietress in 1908-1910, according to Polk’s city directories).

The Fosters initially ran a general merchandise store in Mukilteo; they were at the Bay View by 1904. After her husband’s death, Mary Foster, aided by her children and other family members, ran the hotel until about 1914.

From about 1910 it was downhill for the old hotel. The opening of the Mukilteo Lumber Company (later to become Crown Lumber) in 1903 meant that the Bay View had competition.

Other hotels were built to accommodate mill workers such as the Klemp Lodging House and Smith’s Hotel, located across Park Avenue from the Bay View.

The 1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows the Bay View as vacated, yet the 1912 map shows Bay View as a hotel with adjacent boarding house.

During World War I the hotel was converted into barracks to house a number of enlisted men. After that time the property often stood vacant.

Crown Lumber, whose mill was located along the waterfront immediately to the north of the old hotel, fenced it in, along with two other buildings where the original store of Mukilteo founders Jacob Fowler and Morris Frost had been located.

Crown boarded some of its employees at the old Bay View; according to the memoir of Leona Josh Kaiser, the Josh family stayed in the hotel in the 1920s so that her father, Howard Josh, who was Crown Lumber’s tugboat captain, could be closer to where his tug was berthed, and so that the vacant building could be protected.

Crown also provided the family with electricity. Leona recalls the boxing and wrestling matches that were carried on in a ring made in an empty part of the hotel. After each match, coins were thrown into the ring for the participants.

We do not know when the Bay View was torn down. The 1926 Sanborn map shows the Bay View as vacated and one of Frost and Fowler’s buildings as vacated and dilapidated; the whole property was surrounded by a board fence.

Crown Lumber Company closed in 1930, and the mill sat idle. The tall brick chimney was demolished by dynamite in January 1936.

The remaining mill buildings burned down on Aug. 30, 1938; it does not appear from the newspaper article that the fire came as far south as the Bay View site. Old timers do not recall seeing the hotel building go.

If it did not burn down, my best guess is that it was torn down by the U.S. government.

The property was acquired by the government in World War II as part of an ammunition loading area and dock. The Air Force in 1951 built 10 large fuel storage tanks along the waterfront.

At the present time, the tank farm has been decommissioned and the property is in the process of being transferred from the Air Force to the Port of Everett.The plan is that a new ferry terminal will be built near the commuter rail platform, making a large section of Thomas’s Addition a much-needed transportation hub.

For the present, however, the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) uses the property as a lab to rear marine flatfish and juvenile salmon, as well as algae and plankton, to study the impact of toxins and pollutants.

The location is ideal for marine biology because the water offshore is 600 feet deep, and very clean.

The present NOAA building was constructed after the demise of the Bay View, and is located (beyond the gate) on the opposite side of old Front Street from the Bay View site.

Walter Keyes and Louisa Thomas were largely unsuccessful in their efforts to turn the Bay View Hotel into a destination resort. It thrived instead as a center of community activity.

Its fortunes followed the tide of Mukilteo’s own fortunes, rising when it appeared that the town would attract travelers and vacationers, and falling with the fall of these hopes.

Today the one hotel in Old Town Mukilteo is the Silver Cloud Inn, located on Front Street next to Ivar’s Restaurant, a hotel with luxuries unimaginable to travelers in the 1880s.

 

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