The first Caucasians to appear on the Plateau were a handful of homesteaders sometime in the mid- to late-1880s. (Of course, the Indians had been blazing trails through the region at least 30,000 years before the whites arrived.) Many of the first homesteaders were Danish, who built a tiny hamlet in the Flensted District about three miles northwest of what would become Enumclaw.
In 1900, the Flensted general store went on the auction block and some progressive fellows in the Danish Brotherhood fraternity thought it would make an excellent clubhouse, so they bought the place for $125. They took the building apart, hauled the pieces into Enumclaw and reassembled the structure at the corner of Porter Street and Myrtle Avenue, where it still stands.
In 1904, the Danish Sisterhood was organized – to compliment the Brotherhood – and the men shared their new clubhouse with the ladies. Then, 94 years later, in 1998, the Brotherhood disbanded and sold the clubhouse to the Sisterhood for a dollar. To cover property taxes, utilities, garbage, maintenance and insurance, the ladies had to raise approximately $10,000 a year. For the last decade, they’ve done this by renting the building for various functions, like dance classes, and by having bake sales, bazaars and dinners. (Let’s hear it for matzo ball soup!)
However, by this time, since the building was well over 100 years old, the place was in need of serious restoration, which the ladies certainly couldn’t afford. For the last few years, it’s been rumored that City Hall has shown some interest in buying the property, bulldozing the building, and turning it into a parking lot but, near as I can determine, that isn’t true.
Then, much to the sisters’ delight, a benefactor named Lise Wilbur came to their aid. Way back whenever, Lise was a Danish immigrant who came to Enumclaw when she was a teenager and lived with Elmer and Anna Boyson, who were active members in the lodge; consequently, Lise participated in many happy events there.
Today, Lise (that’s the Danish spelling of Lisa) is a prosperous and successful Tacoma businesswoman. To make a long story short, she financed a major overhaul of the building; a new foundation, paint job, new wiring, plumbing, some cement work and a little manicured landscaping. Indeed, the renovation was so successful, the old clubhouse looks like it was just built a in the last couple of weeks and, if you’ve driven past the place, you’ve surely noticed the change.
Lise wanted to make sure the building would last another century or more and now it certainly will. She believes it’s one of the oldest, most historic sites in Enumclaw. According to Rita Chilman, an active member of the lodge, it’s more then that: in fact, this Danish Sisterhood is the oldest sisterhood in the entire U.S. that actually owns it lodge building.
So, never say Enumclaw doesn’t have any distinctive relics and antiquities. I suspect some day the federal government might designate the whole town a National Historic Site.