40 for 40: Skagit County
Downtown Mount Vernon

By Pat McCutcheonprevious story | next story | all stories

Located in the heart of Skagit Valley, Mount Vernon is a charming community with a rich collection of historic resources. Have you been to downtown Mount Vernon lately? You should! The downtown area holds much of the historic character representative of an important regional hub seated in one of the many western Washington river communities. The downtown, conveniently located off Interstate 5, is in a unique setting as a thriving modern community with lots to see, feel, and smell; a real treat for all of the senses in a historical setting. As one of Washington's designated Main Street communities, Mount Vernon possesses an intact streetscape of historic commercial buildings and fraternal orders that provide the city with a truly unique sense of place. This downtown core offers the National Register-listed Lincoln Theater, a historic square symbolic of the city’s origins featuring intact examples of false-front architecture, and commercial buildings decorated with ornate terra cotta.

Unfortunately, this idyllic setting was not always assured as Mount Vernon had some difficult choices to make to insure that predicted 100-year flood levels would not threaten its future. To address future floods, the city developed a Master Plan 10 years ago which called for the removal of some historic resources. In 2007, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation placed the core downtown area on its Most Endangered list for that year. As part of its compliance with state and federal laws, the city undertook a survey of downtown resources and entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in 2008. While some resources were lost in the construction effort, much of the core historic streetscape is intact and thriving, and an intermodal transportation center offers many options for travel.

Today, the city’s downtown master plan has design recommendations that emphasize historic character retention. The recommendations point out the economic value to putting effort into retaining the historic fabric toward increasing business and tourism associated with this wonderful natural setting where the Skagit River meets Puget Sound.

This story is part of a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. This story highlights one of our most popular programs, the Most Endangered Historic Properties List, and shows just how much need there is for advocacy across the state. If you would like to support this program and spur more positive outcomes for Washington's historic resources, please consider making a special gift to the Washington Trust to support the advocacy work we do through our Most Endangered ProgramContinuous stewardship is needed to protect that irreplaceable legacy for future generations – we appreciate and look forward to your ongoing participation and support.

Here's to 40 more years of saving places that matter across Washington! Please sign up for our special weekly e-newsletter to recieve stories like this in your inbox all year long.

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