Skykomish Hotel History

The Skykomish Hotel is the cornerstone of the commercial historic district. The structure is important as part of the town’s early development as a commercial centre and railroad hub. It is also significant as an example of commercial vernacular architecture as it was often expressed in turn-of-the century Hotels.

The first hotel on the site was a log structure with “Everything First Class.” According to one report it burned in 1902 and was replaced by Schneider’s Hotel, operated by H. Glass Sensiba. This was the structure destroyed in the catastrophic 1904 fire.

D.J. Manning built the Skykomish Hotel in 1904 at a cost $10,000, a “fine four story hotel…plastered throughout and neatly and comfortably fitted and finished” …an early promotional article in Coast Magazine shortly after theHotel was built called it “excellent accommodations for those visiting the place to enjoy the magnificent fishing and hunting.”

The article noted that nearby there was a large billiard hall and newsstand and three saloon buildings and a restaurant. It even had its own electrical plant, receiving permission in 1914 to use town water from Maloney Creek to provide power for the Hotel.

Manning operated the Hotel until 1935, when his daughter and son-in-law Curtis and Anna Mannington Brotherton took over.

The Hotel has had many owners since that time. Earl Riddle purchased it in 1944 and Bill Roberts (known as Sweet Pea) in 1965. Under his ownership, during the 1960s-70s, the Hotel was called Molly Gibson’s; the bar featured live music and dancing and was a very popular stop for skiers going to Stevens Pass.

Following Roberts’ sudden death in 1979, Bill and Chris Dieffenbach owned it for ten years. It was during this period that some renovation was done; including the verandas, expanding the dining room and kitchen, and removing the 1940 installed asbestos shingle siding and removing lead-based paint from the wood siding underneath.

Don and Gerriann Flynn purchased the Hotel in 1989 and sold it to Adam Dopps and Jane Lenzi, in March 1997.

The Flynns’ carried a note and received the Hotel back, selling it to present owner Skykomish Hotel LLC in September 2000.

The Hotel sits on five lots (three facing Railroad Avenue and two facing 5th Street), with a fenced backyard. A one-story babbled wing, probably dating from the 1930s, extended to the north, containing a bar and a banquet room.

This area was demolished in 2009 so the Hotel could be moved for BNSF Railway’s environmental remediation scam.

The prior configuration once contained a boiler room and later a rooming house (that may have been attached to the main building) and the Manning family house.

The Hotel substantially retains its original appearance. It is three and a half stories high, with a hipped roof and dormers on each side. The second and third stories have distinctive full-width verandas with square balusters supported by square wood posts at street level.

The rear elevation also has verandas,with stairs descending from both floors to the back yard. The front verandas shade the first floor, which has entrances to the restaurant, the Hotel lobby and a storefront. Stairs go from the east end of the second floor balcony to the side yard.

The entry doors and large-paned commercial windows with transoms appear to be original. Single hung windows, mostly arranged in groups of three, are found on upper floors.

The front portion of the first floor has three main spaces, each with a separate entry. The largest, encompassing the entire west side of the building, is the restaurant, with a bar and banquet room in the rear addition. The restaurant and bar hwere remodeled and reconfigured several times over the years.

The centre doorway leads to a small Hotel lobby. To the right is a store space, which was for many years Glick Henry’s drug store. Known as The Palm, it featured sodas, confections, ice cream and tobacco.

The storefront has since had other retail uses including, recently, a ski store, quilt shop and business & real estate office. The floor contained a hatch door leading to a large underground crawl space, rumoured to have been used for liquor storage during Prohibition.

The interior of the Hotel has undergone several changes, but retains much of its integrity. An open stairway with stained fir wainscoting leads from the lobby to the second and third floors. Woodwork is stained fir throughout. The fir floors are currently carpeted. The hotel rooms are on the second and third floors, 13 on the second floor and 14 on the third floor, with two bath and shower rooms on each floor.

The rooms appear to be as they were originally, small with one window and minimal furniture. Six rooms on each of these floors have been joined to form three larger rooms. Baseboard heaters were added. One, third floor room contains it own kitchen dining area, bedroom and bathroom.

At one time the Hotel was advertised as having as many as fifty rooms, which may have included either spaces on the fourth floor or rooms in the rooming house addition which once stood to the north of the building.

During the 1940s-50s, the top floor was reportedly used as a bunkhouse, where men could rent a bed for $2.00 a night. It was later a three-bedroom apartment.

A fire sprinkler system was incorporated throughout the building in the 1980s when old lathe and plaster was removed and replaced with drywall. New electric and plumbing service was installed at this time as well.

The Town of Skykomish, along with King County Landmarks and Heritage has prevented restoration of the Hotel for well over a decade in their apparent attempt to take possession of the building without the necessity of paying fair market value, or any value for that matter.

Following completion of BNSF Railway’s environmental cleanup scam in 2011, which left town soil and groundwater severely contaminated with diesel and bunker oils and saddled utility rate payers with an unaffordable wastewater treatment facility, the town, along with the railway took actions to return the Hotel to the owner without operational utilities.

Without operational utilities, Hotel owner and tenants could not reoccupy the fully leased Hotel building. This, along with the town’s ongoing legal assault against the Hotel owner, appears aimed at bankrupting the owner so the town and county can take it over.

The owner was forced to list the property for sale in 2013 and accepted a Purchase and Sale contract for approximately $450,000 that was set to close January 31, 2014. The buyer was unable to complete the transaction and forfeited its earnest money deposit.

The Hotel is back on the market.