American Legion Post 96/Wilbur Block

1201 First Street

Lot Wilburs Drug Store, published in the Snohomish County Tribune Supplement, 1902
Wilbur Drug Store building as the Milwaukee Road depot, 1912, Snohomish Historical Society
Abandoned railway trestle, looking west, behind the Wilbur Drug Store building/depot, ca. 1960, Photo courtesy Allen Miller

Lot Wilbur (1846-1930) and his wife Jennie arrived in Snohomish in the spring of 1875. He had recently sold his holdings in an Olympia lumber business to take a position in a Seattle drugstore, and now he was selling insurance. One of his first customers in Snohomish was William Whitfield, who went on to write the definitive early history of Snohomish County, published in 1926. As Whitfield tells it, he persuaded Wilbur to open a drugstore in town and then recorded his first day’s earnings on December 18, 1875, as $2.50. Thirteen years later Wilbur commissioned Snohomish’s leading architect and builder, J. S. White, to erect this structure for his growing pharmacy business.

Laced with the unregulated ingredient of alcohol, Wilbur’s remedies — Puget Sound Blood Purifier and Liver Pills, T. Ferguson’s Asthma Cure, and Oil of Gladness — were popular from Olympia to Bellingham. “The success of these remedies can be better estimated when we state that in four months the SUN has printed the second 10,000 lot of bottle wrappers for Mr. Wilbur.”

In 1917, two years following the death of his wife, Wilbur joined the Rexall Drug chain and moved to a new building at First and Union. This building was included in the purchase of the right of way by the Milwaukee Road Company coming down the north side of the Snohomish River on a wooden trestle into town. Its temporary use as a depot in 1911 lasted until the end of passenger service in 1938. Railroad folklore tells the story that the steel rails were sold for scrap, eventually ending up in Japan, which returned the rails as bullets and shrapnel in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The American Legion Post 96 has owned the building since the 1950s. The Post members are aware of the building’s historic significance as the oldest brick building still standing in the county and are in the process of a steady renovation effort, beginning with the mural by Monroe artist David Hose.

Continue walking through the parking lot, where once there was a railroad spur for unloading box cars. Just past Andy’s (excellent) Fish House is where our next stop, Riverfront Trail, begins.

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