From sea to shining sea, America is decorated with colorful, unique, wonderful, off-the-wall destinations. Some locations you visit for fun, like party-hard Vegas. Others you visit to dip your toes in the sand for the first time. Then there are those places that offer you a little bit of everything — fun entertainment, time to relax, new experiences, a chance to get away, and even opportunities to immerse yourself in a side of history you’ve never seen before. After all, the historic houses that decorate the spots we visit can tell us a lot about the areas we travel. In the Snohomish County community, there are plenty of historic houses waiting to tell wayward travelers about the beautiful Pacific Northwest we call home.
Bush House Inn
308 5th Street, Index
Serving the wayward travelers of Index, Washington since 1898, is a three-story inn that you can’t miss as you cross the Skykomish coming into town known as the Bush House Inn. Although the inn has changed ownership over the years, it has retained the original name of Bush House, given to it by first owners Clarence and Ellie Bush. For decades the house was a Pacific Northwest treasure, providing a gathering spot for the community and a popular destination for travelers wanting to not only escape for a while but also step back in time.
Of course, a long lineage of check-ins is no match for father time and for a while there, the house was shut down and fell into a state of disrepair after being closed due to safety concerns in 2001. Luckily, new owners Blair and Kathy Corson saved the house from collapse in 2011. It has since gone under an intensive renovation plan to restore this last remaining hotel and restaurant in Index to its original glory.
Charles and Idalia Fratt House
1725 Grave Avenue, Everett
The Charles and Idalia Fratt House, sometimes known as the Monrad and Mabel Wallgren House, has had quite a rich and fascinating history in the seaside city of Everett. Built for the prominent businessman Charles D. Fratt, it was once the only house within a six-block radius back when it was completed in 1906. Surprisingly, however, the house completed in 1906 was not the original building. Construction started in 1904, but on February 8, 1905, the nearly completed home was destroyed in a fire. Though Fratt had the luxury of being the only house on the block, in the end, this put him at a disadvantage as the nearest fire hydrant was a couple of blocks. The results were a total loss for the businessman as the house was valued at $4500 and insured for only $3000.
After the completion of the house, it remained with the Fratts until 1931, when it was sold for the first time. Eventually, the building would go on to be the home of the future 13th governor of Washington, Monrad Wallgren and his wife, Mabel, from 1941 until 1943. The couple would frequently host future President Harry S. Truman as a houseguest, and the room where he reportedly slept is now decorated with Truman memorabilia.
412 Laurel Drive, Everett
Having the prestigious title of being “without a doubt, one of the finest residences ever constructed in the Northwest” by the 1905 Everett Herald after its completion the same year is the Rucker Mansion in Everett. The four-year project that began in 1901 worked to combine elements of Italian Villa, Queen Anne, and Georgian Revival architectural styles into a four-floor, nearly 10,000-square-foot mansion with an additional carriage house on the property overlooking the magnificent Everett waterfront. Now estimated at over $3.5 million, it only cost the Rucker family $40,000 to complete the home that would be a wedding gift for Ruby Brown, who married Bethel Rucker in December of 1904.
The Ruckers had migrated from Ohio to Western Washington in the late 1890s, where they began purchasing thousands of acres in hopes of establishing a township. Plans later changed when they partnered with Henry Hewitt to establish the Everett Land Company, and the focus was shifted to developing the city of Everett itself. Still, the Ruckers maintained possession of 50 percent of their land prospects, the majority of which was developed into residential real estate, including Rucker Hill, the most prime section of real estate overlooking the city on which the mansion was built. Today the mansion is the first private residence in the Everett area to be entered into the National Register of Historic Places, and according to who you ask, the mansion is reportedly haunted by Jane Rucker, the family matriarch herself.
9919 NE 180th Street, Bothell
Now known as the Bothell Historical Museum, the Hannan House was built by William Hannan himself in 1893 in the late Victorian/Queen Anne style. Originally the house was located on Main Street but was moved to its present location in 1978, where it was completely restored to its appearance after its first remodeling in 1916. Hannan had the house built after moving to the Northwest in 1888 and setting down roots in the community. That would begin a long, local history for him, involving the shaping of much of early Bothell. From 1894 until 1898, he owned and operated the city’s post office and eventually became mayor, holding the title from 1916 until 1919.
These houses and many more make up numerous historic districts throughout Snohomish County, allowing those that pass them to take a trip back in time and see where we’ve come from as a community. So the next time you find yourself following the road less traveled, remember to check out the local historic houses so that you may better appreciate where you’re going.