The following is written by Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow:
On Tuesday evening, the students of Sumner University got a Historic Sampler Tour of Sumner, starting with the Ryan House (shown above), driving through town and ending at the Sumner City Cemetery. Last month they took a tour of our waste water treatment plant. History is one of those things that fascinates me because it’s about real people doing real things.
I find that people who don’t like history think about it as just a bunch of dates or dusty objects that should get you on that hoarders. For those who like history, they enjoy it because it’s about people’s stories, how they lived and what they did in the same places we now occupy. Sometimes they did great things of renown and sometimes not so much, but in each I find there are lessons to be learned.
Sure, you can just look at the buildings, from Ryan House to Maple Lawn (the original house, not the school). You can look at pictures of buildings that are no longer, like the Academy building that was the original Whitworth College (and why the street is called “Academy”) or the first Sumner School building, both impressive buildings, and both unfortunately built of wood. But what’s more interesting are the stories of people and what they did here and how it fit into our greater American story.
Did you know that for awhile, Sumner had a blacksmith on Main who was appropriately named W.W. Smith? Originally an immigrant from Switzerland, he first set up shop in Detroit, letting a young man named Thomas Edison conduct experiments in his shop, which Smith later sold to Henry Ford in order to move west. Or how about Ellen Prukop, who owned the Charm Beauty Salon on Main through the middle 1900s? Every February for National Beauty Salon Week, she would do the hair of Sumner’s older ladies for free. Or W.H. Paulhamus, who lived at Maple Lawn? He organized the Puyallup and Sumner Fruit Growers Association, and his farm was used as a national testing ground for agricultural products, an early research station. He was also Vice-President of the Puyallup Fair in its first year, and you’ll recognize his name from one of the main buildings at the fairgrounds.
A lesson they left us is how all these people from diverse places and backgrounds came together to build a community that we enjoy today. As the years continue to roll by, we’re each writing our stories, adding to the collective story that is Sumner.
P.S. Starting this weekend, the Sumner Historical Society opens up the Ryan House for tours on most Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm, through the summer. Click here for more details on their website.
Also, don’t want to miss another tour? Sign up now for the remaining three tours. Next up in April: Ryan Windish shows us the future of what’s coming to Sumner in the “Windish Winnebago Tour.” (It’s really a bus, but that didn’t have the same alliteration.) Sign up here