Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Historic Homes of Sumas, WA. part 1 of 4...featuring the Parkinson House

This is a new series that will feature local historical homes and share their fascinating stores.  If you know a local home of historical significant  that you would like to have featured please contact me.  I will start with the beautiful Parkinson House. 

We are familiar with Moe Hill which stands watch over our little town.  It was known in the earliest days of Sumas as Barker Hill after a local investor who intended to cash in on the railroad coming to town.   Mr. George Parkinson built a lovely home on the south slope of Moe Hill just south of the International Boundary sometime between 1890 and 1892.

Mr. Parkinson was a local businessman who successfully started a dry good store on Railroad Street here in town. The dry good store is pictured on my post from 4 March, 2014... http://nooksackvalleynostalgia.blogspot.com/2014/03/sumas-street-scene-in-1898.html.   
He had immigrated from England leaving his actress wife to follow him with their young daughter.  George built this home and had it waiting for the family when they arrived.

picture 1

photograph looking E at the Parkinson House, circa 1920's?
photograph posted with permission from the Brock collection

 Picture 2
photograph taken looking W, date unknown
posted with permission from the Brock collection

One amusing story about the arrival of Florence Parkinson in Sumas is as follows:

 "George Parkinson had completed the home for her and the community was eager to meet this fine English lady who was coming to their town.  Mrs. Parkinson and her daughter arrived in Fairhaven, Washington in the fall of 1890.  She was an English actress and dancer from the London theaters and supposedly had quite a presence about her.  They checked into the Fairhaven Hotel (which was newly built at the time) for the night with plans to continue to Sumas the next day.

She was allegedly dressed in a bright red bustled dress with laced mutton chop sleeves, a giant feathered hat and slippers to match carrying a parasol with a red feathered rim.  She had a red satin purse with a ten year old daughter dressed in matching red in tow. Supposedly she was not impressed with the Fairhaven Hotel.

The next day Mrs. Parkinson went to the train station to enquire about travel to Sumas.  The ticket agent told her that there was a locomotive leaving later that day but it had no passenger cars with it.  She was insistence that he would simply have to secure a passenger car for her and her daughter.   While the agent was intimidated by her mannerisms he asked her to wait while he checked with his boss.   After a while he returned to tell her that there were no passenger cars available at that time.   The only way to get on the train was to ride an empty flatcar, which was not appropriate for a lady and her child.

She simply paid for passage on the flatcar to Sumas with her trunks and luggage loaded in advance.  She and her daughter were seated on their luggage and journeyed that way to Sumas.  Notification of her arrival came by telegraph and the town folks eagerly awaited her arrival at the railroad station. 

The locomotive blasted the whistle and slowed to a stop with Lady Parkinson seated in the middle of the flatcar as if she was royalty.  Once the train stopped, a group of men pushed a series of boxes up to the car making a set of stairs.  She calmly closed her parasol and stepped down in her bright red dress.  Her daughter followed holding the trailing hem of her mother's dress.   Mrs. Florence Parkinson had arrived and made her mark on Sumas."
story posted with permission from the Brock collection

Picture 3
 Another vintage view looking SE at the Parkinson House, date unknown
picture posted with permission from the Brock collection
Picture 4
photograph taken looking SW, date unknown 
Photograph posted with permission from Brock collection

Picture 5
Photograph posted with permission from the Linn Collection
This photograph (taken February 1936) is looking NW at the Parkinson house at an earlier time when the southern slope of Moe Hill had been cleared of trees.

According to correspondence from John Linn (grandson of Arthur Linn, who owned the Linn Hardware in Sumas), the city of Sumas would hang Christmas lights on one of the two evergreen trees (the dark trees to the right of the Parkinson House) and the pleasing lights would be visible for miles across the valley. This practice continued for many years.

John Linn also shared that Roy and Alice Tudor lived in the Parkinson House for about a year from 1919 -1920. 
Quotes from the  book "A Good Life in a Good Land" by Alice Tudor describe the experience as follows:
 "We had to look for a house in Sumas now, since was out of question to move back into our small place.  Ed living with us plus our expanding family required more room.  Our best choice seemed to be the Parkinson House on the hill and that is where we moved.  The
Ford was not powerful enough to drive up the hill, but we managed 

We enjoyed living on "Parkinson's Hill" but it was very inconvenient to climb it.  We still did not have a car with enough power to drive up, which meant we had to walk, except when the store truck made deliveries.  When we took Kenneth out in the stroller, we would carry him up the hill and pull the empty cart. When I came home from the hospital, the Easterbrooks took me home with their horse and buggy.

There was much fruit on the place - prunes, cherries, apples and pears, even apricots and walnuts. I argued that it was easier to have the children away from the town, but soon found that they had plenty of visitors, children who enjoyed playing in the country -like the area around the hill."

Mr. John Linn added to the following footnote to Tudor's story regarding the Parkinson House:
 "At that time, the side of the hill was terraced, with fruit trees growing on the terraces.   One time Arthur's son, Vernon, was visiting his cousins during a "silver thaw" (ice storm) and he slipped on the top of the hill and slid down making a resounding "bump" each time his bottom hit the flat of a terrace.  Finally, he reached the bottom, just barely sliding under a barbed-wire fence before coming to a stop. 

The hill was later called "Moe's Hill" when Arthur Moe lived in the Parkinson (D.M.) house.  Vernon and Ora Linn bought about an acre of land from Arthur Moe and built a house (early 1950's...D.M.) above and to the northeast of the Parkinson House."

Picture 6

Photograph taken 9 January 2015 by Deborah Morgan
looking N at the Parkinson House (see the arrow).
This photograph taken very close to location of picture 5 just S of the intersection of Bob Mitchell Way and the Burlington Northern tracks.  The green shipping containers, N of the tracks are on the property of  Pacific Rim Reload Service.

 Picture 7
 photograph taken looking W
 12 November, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
with permission of the current property owners

The home is still standing and is currently in the stewardship of Mr. and Mrs. S. Brock. 
It's historical integrity is wonderfully preserved. 

picture 8

Photograph taken looking NW towards Moe (Barker) Hill.
13 December, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
  Notice the peak of the Parkinson House (see the arrow).  
The stop sign marks the SE corner of Railroad and Garfield Streets here in Sumas. 
This photograph was taken next to the northbound railroad tracks where Mrs. Parkinson made her grand entrance in 1890. 

picture 9

a detail of picture 8
Photograph taken 13 December, 2014 by Deborah Morgan
Looking northwest towards Moe Hill where the Parkinson House oversees our community
  Look forward to part 2 in the series of Historic Homes of Sumas.
(thank you for respecting the privacy of the current homeowners of these historic properties)
...posting updated 9 January, 2015...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your work and inspiration in preserving our local history. We live in an area with a beautiful past that should not be forgotten. Your work is appreciated by many, The Brock family