Snohomish Eagles Building’s new chapter
SNOHOMISH - Scott Swoboda has put millions of dollars into a dream he’s had since childhood to restore the Eagles Building on First and Cedar to its original splendor. It may be another month until the final touches are done, but for the most part, the Eagles Building’s three-year restoration is complete.
The building was built in 1904 and housed an Eagles Club up until around 2007. At one point, Swoboda said, the membership of the Eagles Club was more than the population of the city of Snohomish.
Swoboda grew up in Snohomish and spent a lot of time downtown at his parents’ general store located at the former Mardini’s Restaurant now occupied by Snohomish Bakery. People were always fixing up and restoring the downtown storefronts and frequently came into his parents’ store to buy supplies, he said.
He remembers the exact moment he knew he wanted to follow suit and restore the Eagles Building.
“I was sitting with an older guy named Ed Lysons. I was about eight years old and I was talking to him about the architecture,” Swoboda said. “I said I’d like to see inside there and he took me through the whole building.”
Even as a young boy, Swoboda had an idea of how the building could be better laid out for optimal accessibility, and he also knew he wanted to see the exterior restored and improved. He also wanted to add a park there.
“From that point forward, I knew I wanted to create a park-look there, so I built it,” Swoboda said.
Swoboda bought the building in 2004 but a few hiccups in the process postponed work until 2010.
“He completely took it to the studs and put everything new in it,” Swoboda’s real estate broker Laura Huntington said. “He did it in keeping with the original structure and saved the best of what was original. He kept the structure consistent with the original design and use.”
The third level houses the original “floating dance floor,” also known as a “sprung floor,” which Swoboda kept and restored the entire ballroom all around it.
This rare kind of dance floor has hundreds of springs beneath the top surface level, giving those dancing on it a floating feeling.
“The ballroom has a really grand feeling in it with an embossed, multi-layered tin ceiling,” Swoboda said. “The ballroom needed to be opened up and it needed to be sparkling.”
The building was one of the few that were built specifically for the Eagles organization and was an important part of the community. The upper floor and ballroom was a community facility, the lower floor was the Eagles’ clubhouse and the main floor was rented out as retail spaces, he said. A lot of fancy community events and dances were held in that upper level.
“That building was one of the main focal points of Sultan, Monroe, and Snohomish,” Swoboda said. “At the time, there wasn’t a nice facility that women could go to. It wasn’t an upstanding thing to do for a woman to go sit at a bar.”
The elegant ballroom, though, lent itself toward social gatherings year-round that were classy enough for women to attend, he said. Swoboda said he remembers his parents going to the Fireman’s Ball every Thanksgiving.
“I always wondered as a kid why I’d get up in the morning and the Thanksgiving turkey would already be cooking: My parents went to the ball, partied all night, got home at 3 a.m., and would put the turkey in the oven so my mom wouldn’t have to get up and do it in the morning.”
The building will soon be brought back to full life.
All three street-level merchants have been chosen, Huntington said. One is open and the rest will soon follow.
Currently, Top It Yogurt Shoppe is the only business up and running in the Eagles Building, besides Swoboda’s business that rents out the third floor ballroom.
“We have fabulous tenants,” Swoboda said. “The yogurt shop has just taken off. I can’t even believe it. It amazes me how full that place is.”
The middle suite is leased out to Mary Pat Connors and Janet Kusler, owners of Kusler’s Pharmacy. Their plans for their portion of the street level space include a little specialty wine, chocolate and kitchen store. A clothing store also will be leasing space there.
Huntington has been Swoboda’s friend since the 1990s.
Over the phone Huntington’s pride in her friend was clear, especially for creating the addition of the pocket park adjacent to the west side of the building.
“It’s a gift to the city, that little pocket park from Scott,” Huntington said. “He put in all the iron fencing and made it compatible with other parks in the city.”
She said Swoboda put an incredible amount of work into the project and hopes it will become a community gathering place.
“He’s been dreaming about it for a long, long time,” she said. “He’s done a lot of work on a lot of different buildings in Snohomish, but this has been a real jewel to him.”
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