Without Keeler’s Corner, the historic gas station on the corner of 164th and Highway 99 in Lynnwood, this four-way would be one more place to turn on the county road grid. This would be an incorrect assumption.
The Lynnwood gas station, the first one built between Everett and Seattle in 1927 and now a national historic landmark, in fact, marks one of the earliest roads in Snohomish County. Changing names from 164th to Mill Creek Road and then to Seattle Hill Road, it once connected the then county seat of Snohomish with the more southerly areas of the county. The rise on the east side of 164th and 99 was called Gunny Sack Hill. No one seems to know why it acquired its name, but it’s fun to think it was from children who slid on gunny sacks down the hill when there was snow.
That same year Carl and Gladys Keeler built the gas station, a 20-foot-wide paved highway was put in between Seattle and Everett. Helped by their families, they opened for business once the highway was opened. Aside from automotive services that covered everything from gas to major repairs, they had cabins for rent and offered hardware and groceries. Things were particularly busy in the summers when people would drive up from the Seattle area to summer at nearby Martha Lake, Silver Lake and various other resorts.
While the gas station itself shut down in the 1960s, the building was lucky to find a ‘patron’ in Jerry Chinn in 1970. By the time 1976 rolled along, Chinn bought the building, closed the antique store he ran downstairs before moving out after several years. Due to his hard work, Keeler’s Corner is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
At various times in the last 30 years, the downstairs of the gas station has been a flower shop, coffee shop, and naturally, antiques. The upstairs has been rented out for some time.
Keeler’s Corner is as much of a landmark as it ever was. But at almost 100 years old, it’s beginning to look a little long in the tooth. Chinn is the first to admit it’s looking a little run down, and he swears he’s accepting offers, but somehow, he hasn’t been able to set a price yet. He’s just a little too attached to this piece of bygone Americana in a place where historical buildings are far and few between.